Unlocking the Mysteries of CMDB: Part 3 – Building a Healthy CMDB

Unlocking the Mysteries of CMDB: Part 3 – Building a Healthy CMDB

How to Build a Healthy, Mature CMDB

Previously, we took you on a 30,000-foot-overview of the stages of maturity for planning your CMDB (configuration management database) implementation strategy.

We’ve discussed how an operationally mature CMDB is built on a solid foundation of data, processes and governance. Now we’ll show you how to get there by taking a closer look at what it takes to build a healthy, functioning CMDB that can mature with your organization.


Data & Platform Governance

The ServiceNow platform relies on data in the CMDB to enable automation and support digital strategies. Formal data governance is necessary to ensure that data-driven capabilities and the associated value can be fully realized.

Platform Architecture and Standards

Architectural oversight and platform standards are necessary to maintain the integrity of the underlying platform technology. Click To Tweet

Right now let’s get into the process side of data governance and why it matters to your CMDB. Thankfully, one of our artisan engineers has helpfully distilled the five key points of what it takes to build a healthy CMDB.

5 Steps to a Healthy CMDB

 1. Define the Process

Define the CMDB Process Owner:

There should always be a key representative for the CMDB as a whole. This person will need to look at the CMDB from all angles and work closely with your leadership to ensure support for the CMDB.

Define Owners for each CI Class:

Each CI Class owner will own the process for their specific CI (Change Incident) and will be responsible to prove the value of their CI(s) going into the CMDB, then manage data related to their Class. 

Define the members of the Configuration Control Board (CCB):

As the governing body of the CMDB, the board will also identify the need for a new class, attribute or relationship. Your CCB should also include the CMDB Process Owner/Manager in order to ensure the design, configuration and health of the CMDB remains consistent.

To prepare your CMDB, ask yourself:

  •       Which classes of Change Incident (CI) do I need in my CMDB, and why?
  •       Who should own the CI classes, and why?
  •       Which data/attributes are important for these classes, and why?
  •       Which relationships do I need to know about, and why?
  •       Which processes and capabilities does my CMDB need to support?

2. Prioritize CI Class & Value

You’ll need to work with the CCB (remember: Configuration Control Board) to evaluate top Classes and their associated values.

Be sure to align these Classes to your organization’s business objectives. Begin by targeting high-volume/value wins.

Again, include Leadership on these conversations to ensure buy-in and backing. Leadership, in turn, should communicate accountability.

3. Establish Attributes and Design

A well-designed CMDB provides the data needed to support a process and will help your organization achieve its strategic and tactical objectives.

Note that “well designed” is the key phrase above. You’ll need to push back whenever you hear things like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” Don’t be tempted. Your break room refrigerator doesn’t really need an IP address. Also maintain skepticism if a process owner cannot tell you why an attribute is important.

A healthy CMDB is underpinned by shared accountability for data quality.

  4. Configuration, Discovery & Relationship Mapping

  • Identify OOB classes that fit your design and modify as appropriate.
  • Create new classes if they don’t exist but be careful (ServiceNow New York expands into a Common Service Data Model).
  • Make your CMDB consumable: Simplify lists, forms, and reports to present your design consistently.
  • Choose the right data sources for the job: ServiceNow supports multiple data sources, so you’ll need to select the right one for your design and process objectives.

The CMDB can Consume Data from Multiple Sources

You’ll need to determine the primary data source, whether that’s via Discovery, third-party source, or manually.

Only use a non-manual data source if you can trust that the data being ingested is reliable. Do not pull in data that you plan to clean once it’s in the CMDB!

Develop Reconciliation Rules to ensure that the right source is used for each attribute. Also develop Precedence Rules for any overlapping Reconciliation Rules.

Tips to tune Discovery to match your design:

  •       Only discover or create CIs for things in your design
  •       Schedule based on frequency of required updates 

5. Monitor & Mantain

Process Owners and Managers are responsible for monitoring metrics, which means you’ll need to evaluate KPIs and adjust when necessary.

KPIs are often defined early in a process and then the process is forced to adhere. This is not necessarily correct when you have organizational targets that are constantly being adjusted.

Your CMDB is only as good as the data that it contains, so here are a few ways to ensure it remains sound: 


  • Required Data: Include everything that you need to know about CIs and relationships
  • Recommended Data: Nice-to-have information about CIs and relationships
  • Use Data Certification for manually maintained CIs
  • Review and verify any automated attribute updates (determine patterns)


  • No Duplicates Exist: Every CI and relationship should appear only once
  • Information is not Stale: CI and relationship data has been updated adhering to the process schedule
  • No Orphans Exist: Class and relationships are present for each CI


  • Data Standards and Compliance: CIs are created with the right data
  • Audit: Continuously validate that completeness and correctness standards are being met  

How Cask Helps Get Your CMDB in Shape

Successful digital transformation starts with a strategic plan for your Configuration Management Database.

Cask can also help you identify gaps between your current state and CMDB best practices with a CI health assessment that analyzes your organization’s configuration management process and governance systems.

The Cask CMDB
Strategic Compass Framework

Phase 1:

  • Conduct analysis of the configuration management process and governance to identify gaps between the current state and best practices
  • Review use cases to understand what information is needed and why
  • Analyze CMDB data for alignment with use cases
  • Review data sources and sources of truth and associated reconciliation methods
  • Analysis of data, structures and CI health

Phase 2:

  • Vision and strategic alignment with key stakeholders
  • Build roadmap to support vision
  • Assemble findings and organize recommendations

Ready to implement  implement a CMDB that helps your organization use ServiceNow more fully to make work, work better?

Watch “Crawl, Don’t Run to a Healthy CMDB” Now
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At Cask, we know how to streamline business.

We understand that the world moves fast, but information moves faster. You need data in a hurry, and company-wide automation is the answer. If your business can’t keep pace, we can guide you through a strategic transformation to optimize your operational efficiency.

That’s why we are proud to partner with ServiceNow to provide the solutions to move from manual tasks and paper deliverables to digital applications for managing your business.