In the recent days, I have seen continuous discussions happening about the SACM and its possible relationships with other ITSM processes, and its associated benefits. Hence trying to highlight the importance of SACM or Configuration Management, its possible relationships with other ITSM processes, its benefits and the most important ingredients necessary effective configuration management operations.
Configuration Management is a standardized process for identifying, recording, organizing, controlling, reporting and auditing the configuration items in the IT infrastructure. CM’s main purpose is to depict the logical view of CI’s, its relationships, and ensure the integrity of CI’s.
As mentioned in ITIL© books “No organization can be fully efficient or effective unless it manages its assets well, particularly those assets that are vital to the running of the customer’s or organization’s business” hence Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) as per ITIL© 2007 (before called v3) and 2011, and Configuration Management as per ITIL© v2, can be considered as the heart of the ITSM processes.  

Scope of Configuration Management

1) Identify, control, record, report, audit and verify configuration items, including versions, baselines,
constituent components, their attributes, and relationships.
2) Ensures that only authorized and identifiable CIs are recorded and stored in the CM database.
3) Definition of CM policies & plans, CM models and structures. 

Out of scope for Configuration Management

1) Procurement of CI’s.
2) Cost tracking of CI’s.  

Essentials for effective configuration management operations

1) Defined roles and responsibilities (Configuration Manager, CM Process Owner, CM Auditor, CM Tools Admin, CM Analysts).
2) Defined CM plans and Quality Assurance plans.
3) Unique identification system for configuration items through names, id’s, versions, labels (for physical devices).
4) Definition of CI statuses (Operational, In-development, Retired, Maintenance), to identify the condition and status of CI.
5) Definition of CI classes, to organize homogeneous CI’s into silo like structure.
6) Defined CM policies and procedures (For CI identification, CI reports, Recording the CI statuses, Adding/modifying/removal of CI’s and etc).
7) Defined reporting system (To provide reports on current and historical information on CI’s, CI’s attributes, configuration baselines, CI snapshots).
8) Definition of CMS (Configuration Management System) and DML (Definitive Media Library).
9) Scheduled tasks for capturing CI snapshots at regular intervals.
10) Periodic reviews and audits on CMDB’s.
 
Roles and Responsibilities in Configuration Management
Roles
Responsibilities
Configuration Manager
Accountable for the complete configuration management process and operations
Configuration Management Process Owner
Responsible for the development and improvement of configuration management process, documentation, and etc
Configuration Management Auditor
Responsible for continuous improvement and auditing of the process and operations
Configuration Management Tools Administrator
Responsible for managing and maintaining the CM databases, tools, and other repositories
Configuration Management Analysts
Responsible for performing operational activities in adherence to process, policies, and procedures 

How relation with Configuration Management (CM) process adds value to other ITSM processes

Financial management

As CMDB and CMS holds organized information about all operational CI’s, associating CM with FM will enable to capture detailed information on all costs (operational, direct, indirect) of different CI manufacturers (HP, IBM, Lenovo, etc), CI types (Routers, Bridges, Hubs, Laptops, Desktops, PDA’s, etc), CI models (HP Presario, HP Pavilion, IBM Thinkpad, IBM Ideapad, etc).  This information tracked in FM, can be also helpful for other ITSM processes like BRM (Business Relationship Management), Supplier Management, also at the time of financial auditing and etc. 

Incident Management

IM will be able to get detailed information about CIs, which enables to get complete information while registering and categorizing incident.
Also it will be able to estimate the BIA (Business Impact Analysis) of an incident, with the help of CMDB and CMS information. 

Problem Management

PM will be able to get the complete information on CI’s and its associated CI’s (relationships) which in turn helps in providing a faster temporary fix or permanent solution. With the help of CMS (Configuration Management System), PM will also be able to get the detailed information on the past incidents, problems, and changes associated with a CI. 

Availability Management and Capacity Management

With the detailed and historical information in CMDB and CMS, AM and CapM will be able to define appropriate availability, capacity for the new/ changed CI’s and its associated services. 

Change Management

ChM will be able to assess the impact of proposed changes, evaluate the CR (Change Request) or RFC (Request for Change) with the detailed information in CMDB and CMS. 

Release and Deployment Management

RDM will be able to make effective decisions on prioritizing, evaluating, and scheduling the deployment of releases with the help of detailed and organized information in CMDB and CMS.
In conclusion, Configuration Management is the key ITSM process for effective IT service management in an organization and integrating Configuration management to other ITSM processes can bring numerous benefits.
PS: ITIL© names this process as SACM, but I am referring it as Configuration Management; to know the details please check my column http://www.itsmportal.com/columns/where-service-asset-management-defined-itil-v3-sacm

Do you think CM is the heart of ITSM processes?

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Author: Kiran Pabbathi (All Rights Reserved by the author).
Source: Original text (based upon first hand knowledge).
Image: © buchachon – photodune.net
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Kiran Kumar Pabbathi has 10 plus years of experience, he is a Master in business administration (IT), Bachelor in Computer Applications, and a certified professional in ITIL Expert, PRINCE2 (Foundation and Practitioner), Six Sigma Green Belt, ISO/IEC20K Foundation, Cloud Computing Foundation, TMAP Foundation (Test Management Professional), MCP in SharePoint 2003 Customizations, and MCTS in MS Project 2007. He is the author of 8 books: "PDCA for ITIL" published by TSO, UK (available HERE and also HERE) and "Guidance for ITAM", "Guidance for Enterprise Asset Management (EAM)", "Focus on IAM", "Guidance for Incident Management", "Guidance for Problem Management", "Guidance for Change Management" published by Servicemanagers.Org (all available HERE at Amazon). He worked for various conglomerates in the IT industry focusing on ITSM domain, which gave him detailed insight of ITSM, ITAM (IT Asset Management), IAM (Identity and Access Management), Quality assurance, Project management, Test management, and Technical writing. Currently, Kiran works as an IT Process manager and ITIL Trainer in Shanghai Bizenit Information Technology, China. You can reach him on Linkedin (click here)