Riding the CMDB Tidal Wave, Part Two

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Addressing Organizational Issues

When addressing gating factors — those issues that can cause a CMDB implementation to fail — EMA finds consistently the highest scoring factors are cultural and organizational issues, not technology. As CMDB implementations are typically championed by evangelists drawn from within the ranks of IT, focus on CMDB projects tends to be technology.

Leading with buying a tool is a common mistake. Organizational issues that should be considered run the gamut from executives to production staff. At the top, executive sponsorship is critical. A CMDB project is a multi-year adventure that adds cost to the base IT budget for ongoing maintenance and support. While the return on investment (ROI) can be staggering, there needs to be a clear understanding of the costs in terms of hardware, software and people.

Executives need to be willing to prioritize the CMDB and commit domain expert resources to the effort. The CMDB team needs to have cross-domain authority to create policies and enforce them across the enterprise, breaking down resistance by technology silos that might not want to participate in the project. Understanding the cultural and organizational issues a company might face is a critical component to success.

Providing Short-Term Deliverables

Although the implementation of a CMDB system is a multi-year project for most large enterprises, ROI can be seen almost immediately. By focusing on those detailed requirements that are most important, a proper CMDB implementation should show results within 90 days.

Our research shows that focus wanes when project plans are longer than six months. From this, EMA has developed a phased approach that creates six-month and 12-month roadmaps with hard deliverables and measurable milestones.

A six-month roadmap includes specific software that will be installed and configured, processes that will be created or modified, and organization issues that will be addressed. In addition, it maps these tasks back to the detailed requirements document to demonstrate progress and measure success.

The 12-month roadmap is essentially a draft of the next tactical plan. This provides a means to plan longer term and set expectations accordingly.

These are five leadoff steps that complement five more deployment-oriented steps in EMA’s top 10 recommendations list. Those five oriented at deployment are: effective toolset selection, a focus on integration, trying to keep data out as well as putting it in, ongoing communication of status and objectives, and effective phase reviews.

While few CIOs and other C-level executives are directly involved in CMDB system deployments, C-level executives do hold the reins in several of the most critical areas: reviewing and approving appropriate, business-aligned objectives, assuring effective levels of resource and commitment, and being willing to support cultural and organizational change.

Indeed, a CMDB system deployment is almost invariably a catalyst for this last. And once that’s understood, and seen as a benefit, many of the toughest battles surrounding CMDB deployments can be fought on much friendlier ground.

Dennis Drogseth is a vice president and leads Enterprise Management Associates’ New Hampshire office. Drogseth also is EMA’s Network Services practice leader.