the importance of configuration management roles in building your CMDB

In my previous blog post, where to start when building an efficient CMDB/CMS, I described some key activities of the configuration management process to provide the expected value add of the CMDB. Nevertheless, without clear and defined roles to control, perform or updates these activities (configuration management activities), it will be difficult to implement and maintain a successful CMDB/CMS.

So what are these key roles and their main tasks?

 the project manager

 The project manager has a fundamental role in setting up the CMDB, ensuring that the proper activities will be in place for the lifecycle of the configuration management process and the CMDB. He is involved in all the phases of the CMDB implementation:

  • defining CMDB objectives,
  • defining the structure and the data sources
  • defining the target data model
  • defining the processes
  • defining the required organization

To be successful the project manager will have to ensure good communication and to get not only the full support of the IT department but also decision makers in other parts of the business.

the process owner

The process owner is in charge of the definition and subsequent updates of the Configuration Management Plan. This plan should not only be aligned with the global strategy of the IT organization but also any IT plans such as the security ones. This role is a strategic role and not an operational one. He will make sure that the process is always aligned with the IT organization as well as the needs of the business units.

the configuration manager

The configuration manager ensures that the configuration plan is well applied and implemented. He will work in close collaboration with the process owner to provide him with insider’s information. The configuration manager is fully involved in the operations of the CMDB. This role covers the following activities:

  • contributing to the initial upload of data
  • maintaining the data model (attributes, classes..)
  • ensuring data integrity by putting controls in place as defined in the configuration plan
  • generating and analysing reports as defined in the configuration plan
  • detecting issues
  • launching corrective actions where needed (with the support of the process owner in some cases)
  • ensuring training for the team on processes and their respective roles

the configuration item (CI) owner

In most organisations no CI owners have been put in place, meaning that nobody is really in charge of these data, which could lead to a lack of accuray of the data within the CMDB. The configuration item (CI) owner ensures a control (quality) on the configuration item he is responsible for and is responsible for the accuracy of these configuration items.

Any modification to a configuration item should go through the change process, but the update within the CMDB could be either done by the configuration item owner or by a dedicated team (once the modification has been agreed by the configuration item owner). Each configuration item should be assigned an owner; this role is purely operational.

Assigning an owner can be done in different ways depending on organization. Two approaches are usually used: one based on technology (network, servers, applications…) and the other based on geography (country, region…).

Some organizations combine these two approaches while sometimes adding internal organization parameters such as supported business line(s) or user departments. Based on my experience, a key ingredient for success is to split the role of the configuration item owner across multiple people, and not have only one person responsible for the full scope. This will ensure the involvement of the whole support team.

Apart from the roles I’ve described above, do you have other roles in place around configuration management?

Nicolas Jacquey
Sebastien Rivory

Service Management Consultant for Orange Business in Switzerland  with over 10 years’ experience in service management and IT outsourcing, my experience in IT operations allows me to understand customer challenges and issues to deliver the best service management solution. I am leading service management consulting in Switzerland including ServiceNow implementation. I hold an engineering degree and an MBA from HEC Montreal. I am ITIL V3 expert certified