We are often asked what the difference is between Data Content Manager and ServiceNow’s Out-of-the-Box tools such as CMDB Health or the CSDM Data Foundation Dashboard. Do they do the same thing and if so, why bother with DCM if out-of-the-box tools are already available?
I was recently in a meeting where a DCM user explained the difference to his management in simple terms. I’ll quote:
“I got my complex Blueprint (data model) up and running in 10 minutes with DCM and got audit results immediately after. Without DCM, I would have needed to request the work from the ServiceNow development team, and it would have taken months to complete the development.”
I could not have said it better myself.
They are Different
To some degree OOB tools and DCM do address the same issues. The main differentiators are in the design philosophy, required skillsets and how far you can go with one tool.
OOB tools are usually point solutions that address a specific thing with a limited scope. For example, the CSDM Foundation Dashboard tracks CSDM progress very specifically according to the prescribed model and set implementation phases. However, your CSDM journey might not flow exactly as prescribed, or related data resides outside of the CMDB.
CMDB Health focuses on CMDB data only, while often CIs relate to other data outside of the CMDB – such as contracts, SLAs, and tasks.
Data Content Manager is designed to be one tool to visually manage the quality of data on the entire platform. Regardless, if the use case is about CMDB, CSDM, Integrations, Assets, CSM, HR or something else.
Once installed, it can handle all existing data, customizations and differing requirements without the need for scripting or elevated user rights.
Data Content Manager is a Full Data Management Suite that runs on ServiceNow
Is it Data Content Manager vs. OOB?
Well, no. Even though there are some similarities, Out-of-the-Box tools and DCM don’t really compete. Instead, they can complement each other rather nicely.
There is a solid case for co-existing, especially when OOB tools already exist in an instance and handle things they were designed to handle. There’s no need to recreate that with DCM, even though it is entirely possible.
If OOB tools are already there and they work for you, great! Let DCM handle the use cases where the OOB tools fall short or would require development work.
The combination ensures that the OOB capabilities and possible investments already made into them are in good use, but unnecessary time and money is not spent on customizing OOB tools for things that are much easier, quicker and more cost effective to handle with DCM.
Example: CSDM Foundation Dashboard & Data Content Manager
Accelerating CSDM implementation is a prime example of a DCM use case. Let’s take a closer look at how the CSDM Foundation Dashboard and DCM differ.
The CSDM Foundation Dashboard provides (some) information on CSDM progress, very specifically as it is prescribed by ServiceNow. It provides links to guidance on how you can fix issues but does not go beyond that in helping fix them or explaining where different metrics come from.
We talk to people all the time who are striving towards CSDM, but not exactly how it is prescribed. Or, they may have related requirements which are out of the CSDM scope, but still should be aligned. They tend to find that the CSDM Foundation Dashboard falls short in handling any exceptions to the prescribed model.
When this happens – and it happens quite easily — you need to think about customizing the tools to meet your specific needs. In practice, getting somebody to develop custom audits, scripts, and custom reports.
Scripting & Development
Suddenly, Out-of-the-Box turns into something akin to a software development project, and people working with the Data are forced to seek assistance outside their team. Admin privileges and developers are needed. The platform owner is probably involved, as well as a solution architect.
You will probably initiate a (hopefully minor) development project and request funding. If approved, your project then goes into a long list of competing development needs. When it finally gets done, weeks or months have passed. Your original requirement may have changed while waiting, or the specifications might have been misinterpreted at some point and the results are not what you expected.
When your requirements change again in the future, further development is needed to adapt to the change. When ServiceNow gets updated, your custom scripts may complicate the ServiceNow update and the scripts may need to be updated as well.
All in all, this is unnecessarily complicated, slow and expensive. If you are responsible for data quality on the platform, you might become heavily dependent on the workloads of other teams and budgets. This is likely to affect your ability to reach your own targets.
Once you hit these limitations with OOB tools, Data Content Manager might just be the easiest way forward.
Data Content Manager
No scripting, customizing the platform, reports or dashboards. No elevated user privileges required.
Once DCM is installed, the visual tools for data modelling, ad-hoc and recurring audits and dashboards are all at your disposal regardless of what your data is or if you have customizations in place. All tools are visual and easily understandable.
You can use the same visual tools to fix your issues, too. Furthermore, the built-in governance model in DCM helps you find the right people to fix things and assign responsibilities accordingly.
When your requirements change, changing the data model accordingly is a matter of updating a blueprint. When new requirements emerge, you can easily create a new blueprint matching the requirement. You can create multiple data models for the same data, depending on the particular use case.
When the platform gets updated, there are no dependencies to scripts somebody wrote, or any OOB products.
We like to say that with DCM you can get results in hours – not weeks or months. Further to that, it allows the people responsible for data quality to regain control.
Example Blueprint that takes about 15 minutes to draw and is ready to audit.
Time to Results
With all the competing requests always present, getting necessary admin and/or development resources can be a real problem. Even though it is certainly possible to customize and extend OOB tools, getting it done can be prohibitively difficult and expensive.
With DCM, most often it is a matter of simply drawing a blueprint with the visual Blueprint Designer, running & scheduling an audit, and seeing the results come in.
To put this simply – creating a customized data audit that provides actionable results:
- Time to specify, request, getting development time, testing etc etc. a customized script for running a customized audit: weeks to months
- Drawing a blueprint, running an audit, getting actionable results: 1-2 hours.
By the way, installing DCM takes less than an hour and installation is the only time admin privileges are needed. A Free trial is available in the ServiceNow store.
What’s in it for You?
To Sum it Up…
Use the Out of the Box tools for what they were meant to do since there is no need to recreate the same functionality with DCM. Use DCM to build a systematic data quality management process that is flexible and grows with your needs.
Alternatively, just use Data Content Manager since it easily handles what the OOB tools do.