For the purpose of understanding the value of Configuration Management, we have to trace how value is added to transactions. The value transaction is important to the supplier because that is where value to the customer is measured. (Presumably the customers use value exceeds the transaction value, or the transaction is not sustainable.)
- Value Transactions are supported by Business Services
- Business Services are supported by IT Services
- IT Services are supported by IT Processes
The further down this chain we go, the harder it is to measure value to the customer, and the more care we must take to ensure that the supporting processes are adding value to the customer in the form of improvements to the Business Services or products.
Herein lies the pain point in measuring the value of Configuration Management.
Configuration Management supports and improves IT processes:
- Financial Management of IT Services
- Availability Management
- IT Service Continuity Management
- Change Management
- Release and Deployment Management
- Incident Management
- Problem Management
And Configuration Management is one more step away from the value transaction. We understand the value of Configuration Management by the improvements it makes to other processes.
- Few organizations measure the value of IT processes
- Fewer organizations even measure key metrics such as the cost per minute of down time to IT Services, or value of a Problem Resolution.
The Chicken or the Egg
Which came first?
Is Configuration Management a prerequisite to other processes it supports? No, it is not a prerequisite, though I know some people would disagree with this rule. Organizations can execute a Change Management process without relying on Configuration Management activities or a CMDB. In fact I know many organizations doing exactly this.
Could organizations improve their Change Management process with a CMDB in place to help assess the impact of changes? Certainly yes, but organizations who don’t have some maturity in other processes will not realize any value from Configuration Management whatsoever.
However, I would say the opposite is true. You cannot have a working Configuration Management process without a mature Change Management process. Unless the data update is entirely automatic, and in my experience this is rare; then the data becomes stale and the data quality will degrade.