How Long Should a CMDB / CMS Take to Build? Part 3: Process Engineering

This is the third post in the "How Long Should a CMDB/CMS Take to Build" series.


 


Today's tagline: YOU must make the final journey to the right process.  No one else, not even a cherished trusted vendor or analyst, can make it for you.  But they can act as a spiritual advisor.


 


ITIL Process engineering is the second most important part of the deployment, the most difficult to get right except for people and cultural change.  The only reason process engineering is slightly easier than these is because you at least have better measurement tools.


 


And I'm talking about ITIL processes here, for which additional complexities apply.


 


There aren't many vacant lots left in downtown ITIL.  I'm talking about process RE-engineering as well, because almost none of you are building a data center from scratch.  You already have some kind of processes, bethem manual or dysfunctional.  Part of the process-building involves assimilation and demolition of parts of the earlier generation processes.


 


So what do you start with:  Needs, goals, plans, budget, vendors, tools?  Turns out it's not so straightforward.


 


It's a paradox.  You can't easily build your processes without a tool in mind or you will not be able to find a tool that does everything you want.  Don't believe me?  Go ahead, try, you'll spend a ton of money on column fodder and end up picking the vendor that can just fill in the most columns - a disappointing and possibly unwise strategy.


 


However, you don't want your processes to be tool-driven because you will end up locking out the most important KPIs which are fulfilling your use cases exactly. 


 


So, do I pick a vendor first, or define my requirements first?  My answer:  it's an iterative process, there is no prescriptive approach that ensures success - you must have a good IDEA of your processes, then court a few vendors, then get some preliminary input to refine your idea of what config management should be, ask a few more questions, and repeat until you have a good foundation that will fulfill your use cases and is supportable by a solution you can buy and build.


 


The CMDB is a tool, maybe even a platform.  The CMS is a deployed operational solution.  You must still operate it with your own processes and people.  Good luck with ITIL.  You'll need more than that.  But I digress.


 


If you expect your vendor to supply all the processes because the tool won't work without them - you're in trouble.  You must still understand all your processes to the point where YOU are doing the service transitions and operations.  Most  vendors can't and won't care as much about how well your processes work, and at best will deliver incomplete, high-level, or overly-generic  processes, the same cartoon version of IT that ITIL already provides.


 


 As a vendor you have to work really hard to create and deliver a good process layer of best practices around your CMS and CMDB.  And while I've tried hard (that is one of my projects at HP), I cannot fool myself that we have gotten everything right, in fact or in principle.  Experience and the rigorous discipline of journal-keeping,  analysis, and continual improvement are our only lights into the future of process.  Don't let anyone else sell you otherwise.


 


Some final recommendations:



  • Get yourself some wild, angry beekeepers.  They'll keep your you, as well as your vendor, honest, and help you identify the needed, the unneeded, and the just plain stupid.

  • Come to recognize the smell of crap factoids.  Analysts and vendors, like Alpha Geeks, CIOs, bloggers, and help desk technicians, are not immune to hubris. 

  • Not all IT organizations need to "mature" all of their processes to the maximum "maturity".  Avoid unnecessary or self-fulfilling scaffolding, even if it's your vendor's favorite.  Even though ITIL says you should be doing something, you must decide for yourself whether you actually should be doing that thing.  And  it's not always easy to determine.  Read.  Study.  Know not just IT but YOUR IT.  In the vicious world of ITIL, knowledge isn't just power, it's survival.

  • Same thing I tell all the school kids I teach astronomy to: Keep asking questions.

  • Configuration management, like education, is not about filling a bucket, it's about lighting a fire.   Think, motivated, self-policing, continual service improvement.  Incent your people to seek out improvement and they will do so, to your benefit.  Too expensive?  Don't expect much help.

  • If you don't understand something but should, go ahead and ask the question.  But remember the risk.  And think about who you should ask first.


 


I hope this post touches a nerve, or gets through to someone, or even angers someone enough to post a reply.  I'd really like to hear what you think.  Thanks for your time.

Comments
Jovsta | ‎10-07-2010 02:55 PM

Jody,

 

It this stuff was easy, everyone would have done it.

 

JV

Jody Roberts | ‎11-29-2010 01:37 PM

JV,

Exactly.

JR

Jody Roberts | ‎02-25-2011 02:39 PM

Update:  our CMS best practices library is at https://h20066.www2.hp.com/files/documents/155/2025/file_2025.dat/CMS%20BP%20Library%20rev2.zip

 

You need UCMDB or DDM entitlement though

 

Thanks

JR

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About the Author
Jody Roberts is a researcher, author, and customer advocate in the Product Foundation Services (PFS) group in HP Software. Jody has worked ...
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