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The past and the present: why it’s always important to Start Where You Are

Blog posted by: Arjan van der Poel, Leadership and Management Trainer/Coach, Suerte Academy, 05 September 2016.

The past and the present: why it’s always important to Start Where You Are

Configuration management is an area often underestimated by businesses.

As the animation shows, creating a configuration management database (CMDB) isn’t necessarily that difficult but actually using it correctly within an organization is. This is because configuration management also involves organizational change management.

Why you should Start Where You Are

Arjan van der PoelWhen embedding a configuration management approach, the ITIL Practitioner® guiding principle of Start Where You Are is absolutely critical as configuration management underpins all other processes. While a CMDB can exist on its own it’s not really of any use and is dependent on the maturity of all other processes.

When beginning a configuration management journey, as the animation recommends, professionals should start by assessing where all their other processes are. Importantly, this should be done with process managers to understand what’s working and what isn’t.

In my role as a consultant, I came across an organization exploring configuration management and its project lead asked all technical experts what would be good in the CMDB. The project they wanted would’ve cost millions of Euros and be impossible to implement. Instead, if the project lead had focused on speaking with just the process managers and asking where they are now - rather than where they want to be - they would’ve ended up with a very different and much more achievable result.

Small steps

As well as starting where you are now, it’s also important to take small steps in configuration management. By breaking down an activity or project into smaller parts, it’s more manageable and maintains the integrity of the CMDB; it also ensures you can show senior stakeholders the benefits of your changes more immediately.

Don’t forget the past

As the animation shows, there were already some elements of configuration management going on within the business and that’s true of most organizations, even if it’s just a list of configuration items on a spreadsheet.

For consultants, or someone tasked internally with configuration management, it might seem easier to start from scratch with useable elements already in existence that can be carried forward.

By completing a thorough assessment of where a business is at the start of the process, you’ll get a sense of its maturity, what is working and what’s not, plus what’s been done before and failed.

Walking into a business and immediately dismissing existing systems, approaches and processes is disrespectful and undermining to people within the company. Ultimately, this team has done the best they could in the circumstances, so rather than rejecting their efforts you can learn from them. If configuration management was an easy task within their business, they would’ve already done it. Therefore, you can use their input to understand why it didn’t succeed and take their learnings to inform the future approach.

The animation shows how breaking configuration management into small steps, assessing where the business is now and learning lessons from the past, organizations can create a more sustainable solution. They’ll also see greater collaboration and willingness to participate from the whole business and ensure configuration management happens longer term.

See our ITIL Practitioner section for more information.

Read more blogs about ITIL Practitioner Guiding Principles

ITIL Practitioner - Focus on Value

ITIL Practitioner - Design for Experience


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