CSDM Compliance – Where to Start or Already Done?

If you have not heard about the Common Service Data Model (CSDM) yet, you might want to read this first.

 

What does it mean to be compliant with a data model?

Simply, that you (and your colleagues) follow the model when maintaining data.

 

Why should you comply with CSDM?

In short, to improve the ROI of your ServiceNow platform:

  • ServiceNow products increasing rely on CSDM. To be able to use them you need to comply with CSDM.
  • Decrease your risk of not achieving full platform value.
  • Increase your ability to mature your implementation without costly rework.
  • Most CMDB projects fail. Increase your chance of being part of the 15% of CMDB initiatives that succeed.

In practice this means that ServiceNow has made it clear they are developing their platform capabilities and new functionalities with dependencies to the data model. Even if you do not use the new features right away, aligning with the model will ensure easy implementations in the future and help to avoid costly rework.

The notorious 15% at the end of the list means that only 15% of the CMDB initiatives actually succeed (ref.). Hopefully this number is already a bit higher nowadays, since the study pointing that out is already a bit dated.

To learn more, you may want to read the CSDM v2.0 whitepaper and watch our co-hosted webinar with ServiceNow.

Incident Form - CSDM Fields

Snapshot of the CSDM Compliance Dashboard included in the CSDM Content Pack

How to know whether you are compliant or not?

Well, that can be a bit more difficult unless you have the right tools at your disposal.

In this blog post, I am going to introduce the latest version of the CSDM Content Pack which is a free add-on for the Data Content Manager application available at the ServiceNow Store. With this content pack, you can get off to a flying start with your CSDM implementation.

The updated CSDM Content Pack includes:

  • Tier and domain structures according to CSDM
  • More detailed data models (Blueprint templates) for all Crawl phase CI Classes
  • Additional Blueprint templates for other implementation stages + process and foundation data
  • Pre-published Blueprints for the Crawl phase together with Scheduled Audits
  • Brand new CSDM Compliance Dashboard (see screenshot above)

 

CSDM Stage 1 – Learning to Crawl

The focus of the Crawl phase is to understand what you have. Build a minimum CMDB and prepare the foundation for Application and Service Portfolio Management.

Incident Form - CSDM Fields

Crawl phase starts the CSDM implementation with focus on Applications

In this phase, you should identify a handful of core applications and get a buy-in from the Application and Service owners for those core applications. This probably also means cleaning or transforming current data into new tables, like Application Service and Business Application, as well as taking a closer look at the minimum required attributes for the CI Classes.

Nothing fancy yet, just trying to build to a strong foundation for the CMDB and starting to make connections between “Technical CIs” and the more logical business applications (and later service offerings too). And getting people involved into CSDM data maintanance.

The above picture of the Crawl phase data model will set the stage, but we need to go a bit deeper into details to actually implement anything.

Data models in the Crawl phase

The CSDM v2.0 includes four CI classes in the Crawl phase:

  • Business Application
  • Application Service
  • Application
  • Server

For the CSDM Content Pack, we created separate data models for each of these classes with references to responsible persons and minimum required attributes. To extend the scope a bit and make this a little more meaningful we also added simple templates for “rest of the CIs” and User records.

 

Incident Form - CSDM Lists

More detailed data models for the Crawl phase as Blueprint templates

The content pack includes roughly 15 other blueprint templates too, but these six are also turned into already published blueprints, ready to start audit when you install the pack with demo data.

 

Start auditing the crawl phase data models – right now

If your plan is start from the Crawl phase and be compliant with the CSDM, you can check your current compliance in a few minutes. If you install the CSDM Content Pack (v2.0) with demo data, you also get already published blueprint versions of the Crawl phase blueprint templates and predefined Audit Schedules for those

 

Using CSDM on Incident Model

Five already published blueprints as part of demo data

 

 When you go to the DCM Audit module, you should see this list of inactive Scheduled Audits:

 

Using CSDM on Incident Model

Predefined Scheduled Audits as part of demo data

You activate these from the Scheduled Audits list view, where you can also click the “Execute now” button for each of them.

To get your Crawl phase data models audited easily, follow these simple steps:

  1. Install CSDM Content Pack with Demo data
  2. Activate Scheduled Audits
  3. Execute each of the Scheduled Audits now or update the schedule and wait until the scheduler will pick them up.

Initial Audit Results – That’s your baseline

What do you see after the initial audits? Your baseline or starting point. You have to start from somewhere.

This initial audit will give you great insight into your current, and actual, compliance against the best practice data models. The results will help you to identify where you still may have some work to be done.

To be fair, you may not want to follow the predefined data models exactly as they are, but need to run a quick analysis to see where you are. Once you have a clear understanding of you situation, you will possibly want to adjust the blueprints to match your specific needs before setting any targets to your team for the data compliance.

Even more important than being compliant with CSDM, is that you are compliant with the requirements set by the use cases behind the data models.

Initial Audit Result – Examples

Take a look at these examples after initial audits had completed in our demo instance.

Incident Assignment Data Model

CSDM Overview dashboard after initial audits

Note, the above screenshot also includes couple of extra audits from Run and Walk phases. 

There are plenty of different groupings available on this dashboard and you can change the “Data Compliance Trend” graph to show lines based on Blueprints, or Data Domains instead of the Implementation phase that is shown by default. You’ll see an example of Blueprint based grouping a little later.

For each “domain” in the CSDM, this dashboard includes its own tab. Here’s an example of the “Manage Technical Services” domain showing audit results for Application Services, Applications and Servers that all belong to that domain.

Email Service Data Example

Manage Technical Services domain after initial audits

In addition to the reports shown in the Overview tab, these domain specific tabs also show more details about the audit results such as “Top10 Records with Most Deviations” and “Top10 Missing Links” identifying the biggest problem areas within that domain.

 

What next?

After a while, you start to see the trends and your progress towards CSDM Compliance (or drift away from it). Here are the same dashboard views after five weeks of continuous audits and some remediation activities to fix the issues found by the audits.  

Using CSDM on Incident

CSDM Overview dashboard after five weeks

 

Using CSDM on Incident 2

Manage Technical Services domain after five weeks

 

And here’s the example of the Data Compliance Trend grouped by blueprint as mentioned above.

 

Using CSDM on Incident 3

Data Compliance Trend per Blueprint

 

Trends are looking good, and that’s the point! We believe that taking small, incremental steps towards better compliance and improved data quality should be a routine part of daily operations.

Data Content Manager is based on this thinking and can help turn sporadic data quality projects and firefighting into a systematic, measurable process.

Of course, bigger leaps can and need to be occasionally taken too. For example, if some process or integration issues are found that constantly provide invalid data into your system. DCM helps there, too.

How to get Started?

How do you currently ensure that agreed data models are being followed? Do you have concrete metrics to support your decision making along the way?

We invite you to try out DCM! You can start a Trial of our product for Free and check your CSDM compliance with the CSDM Content Pack in minutes.

The whole process including all installing and initial audits can be done in couple of hours and you’re ready to plan your next steps towards CSDM Compliance. That’s why we call it a flying start!

Thanks for reading!

To find out more about Data Content Manager, please get in touch with us or book a demo!

Mikko Juola

Mikko Juola

Mikko is the Product Manager for Data Content Manager, a NowCertified ServiceNow application.

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