The DCM Blog

Discover How to Simplify CSDM Compliance

By Mikko Juola

November 8, 2023
CSDM Compliance Made Easy

Since you’re reading this, you probably already know that CSDM, or the Common Services Data Model, is a reference data model provided by ServiceNow for arranging your data in the CMDB. You need to align to this data model to get the most out of your platform now and even increasingly so in the future.

A decade ago, this Forbes article asked Why 85% Of Companies Fail At Creating A Configuration Management Database (CMDB). The vast majority of CMDB projects failed to meet their targets. I’m pretty sure the situation has improved due to improved toolsets and, in the case of ServiceNow, the advent of the CSDM. But the CMDBs of the world continue to be far from perfect.

We see the daily struggle in our work when we help our customers use Data Content Manager to align their data with the CSDM. Even with the struggles, the reasons to align are clear.

The Importance of CSDM Compliance

At the end of the day, the primary reason to comply with CSDM is to enhance the Return on Investment (ROI) of your ServiceNow platform:

  • ServiceNow products increasingly depend on the CSDM to function correctly. ServiceNow has made this clear, and it is already a reality with many new features and functionalities. To fully utilize the platform now and in the future, you must align with CSDM.
  • Aligning with CSDM reduces the risk of NOT realizing your platform’s full potential. If your data doesn’t support the platform’s capabilities, you will miss out on the value available.
  • CSDM future-proofs your ServiceNow and will likely reduce expensive reworking as the platform evolves.
  • Keeping in mind the CMDB project failure rate mentioned above, aligning with CSDM will improve your odds of

In practical terms, when ServiceNow develops platform capabilities and new functionalities, they increasingly rely on the data model. Even if you don’t immediately use new features, aligning with CSDM ensures smooth future implementations and helps avoid expensive rework.

How Do You Know if You’re Compliant?

That’s the right question, but the answer is not simple. Determining whether you’re compliant can be challenging without the right tools. It is even more difficult to know what to do to become compliant.

You will get an idea with some of ServiceNow’s out-of-the-box tools, but they are limited. We’ve written more on this topic here, comparing the CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard to Data Content Manager.

To get the complete picture with OOB tools, you need to customize them, which basically means building it yourself. The alternative we suggest is using Data Content Manager, which does not require customization and goes beyond the out-of-the-box tools in capabilities.

Data Content Manager is designed for data management and can be amended with a Free CSDM Content Pack with predefined CSDM-compliant data model templates (Blueprints).

Adjust the Blueprints, if needed, and run some audits. You will get all the necessary metrics and detailed information on your gaps. This is true even if you choose not to follow CSDM precisely as ServiceNow prescribes. In fact, DCM can enforce any data model and improve any data on the platform, not just CMDB.

Let me show you how.

CSDM Phase 1: Learning to Crawl

The CSDM Crawl phase focuses on understanding your current assets. It involves building a minimal CMDB and preparing the foundation for Application and Service Portfolio Management.

In this phase, you should identify a few core Applications and secure buy-in from their owners. Working with the selected Applications likely involves cleaning or transforming current data into new tables, such as Application Service and Business Application, and examining the minimum required attributes for the CI Classes.

The goal here is not to create anything elaborate but to build a robust foundation for the CMDB and start making connections between Technical CIs and the more logical Business Applications (and later Service Offerings). It also involves getting people involved in the CMDB data maintenance.

The CSDM includes five CI classes for the Crawl phase:

  • Business Application
  • Application Service
  • SDLC Component
  • Application
  • Server

Our CSDM Content Pack contains separate data model templates, or Blueprint templates, for each class with references to responsible persons and minimum required attributes. We’ve also added simple templates for “the rest of the Cis” and some Foundation Data records to extend the scope and make this more useful for those still struggling with Foundation Data quality.

Auditing the Crawl Phase Data Models

You can audit your compliance with the Crawl phase requirements in just a few quick steps. Once you have installed Data Content Manager and the CSDM Content Pack, you can pick one of the ready-made templates and run an audit to see your compliance scores.

Then, repeat the same for another Blueprint template. Read more about the content pack here, and see which templates it includes today.

Create a Blueprint

Let’s create a new blueprint based on CSDM templates.

You can trigger an on-demand audit with a limited scope for a quick sample audit. Once the audit has been completed, you can immediately see the results and better understand your CSDM Compliance. The Audit results can be viewed on a high level, e.g., “lots of CI relationships to Application Services missing,” or you can drill down to deviations for individual attributes and everything in between.

Running the audits regularly will give you trends and immediate insights when changes in your CMDB occur. You will find problems and missing details before they cause issues in different processes and workflows.

Audit results: Business Applications

5 Steps to Immediate Results

So, to get immediate results, you only need to do these few things:

  1. Install Data Content Manager
  2. Install CSDM Content Pack
  3. Publish a couple of the CSDM Blueprint Templates
  4. Run Audits
  5. Analyze the results from personalized dashboards

It is that easy, and the best part is you don’t need to do it alone. We offer a Free Guided Trial where we help you take these steps so you’ll be sure to get results with minimal time consumption. To be clear, this is a service we offer free of charge, with no commitments.

Initial Audit Results Establish Your Baseline

After the initial audits, you’ll have a baseline and starting point. This first audit will provide valuable insight into your current compliance against the chosen data models – in this case, CSDM Crawl. The results will help you identify areas that need work, and you will clearly understand where you are.

If you do not want to or cannot follow the CSDM precisely as ServiceNow prescribes, you only need to tweak the Blueprints to match your requirements. Everything else will automatically follow, and no customization is required anywhere.

For example, SDLC Components are often removed from the Blueprint if they are not used. As long as you know your requirements, tweaking the Blueprints to match them only takes a few additional minutes.

Dashboards & Audit Result Examples

DCM includes built-in Dashboards. Let’s look at some examples and how the Dashboards cater to different stakeholders.

Overview Dashboard

The Overview Dashboard above tracks and communicates overall progress to management and others. It is usually used for overviews and tracking current status on a high level. However, it already includes drill-down features to get status on a detailed level, if desired.

The My Data Domains dashboard is specific to Domain Owners, who can focus on the data domains they are responsible for. In addition to the Overview Dashboard, Data Domain Owners can access data quality details for individuals and teams, so they will know who they need to contact to fix deviations – or see how teams and individuals perform against their data quality targets.

My Data Quality Dashboard is available to the individuals who should maintain the data, such as Business Application owners. The Dashboard is specific to these people, so you can set and track targets personally. Since the individuals have access to the same metrics, measuring data quality becomes transparent.

So, DCM provides clear, detailed guidance to individuals who should fix something, either through the dashboards or task creation. When the individuals fix their issues, they can immediately see their personal data quality metrics improve.

It can do wonders for motivation when people realize they can affect their numbers and make a real difference in something they are personally responsible for.

Read more about personalizing data quality efforts here.

No Customization – Just Adjust the Blueprint

With Data Content Manager, you only need to define your data requirements in Blueprints. Everything else automatically follows.

You do not need any customizations or scripting to get your results. So you can get rapid results and don’t need to wait to reach some obscure maturity level before you can get value from systematically tracking your data quality.

When things and requirements change, you only need to update your Blueprint, which is the only thing you need to do. Everything else automatically adjusts as a result.

For example, the main difference between the Crawl and Walk phases for Application Services is adding a CI relationship between an Application Service and a Technical Service Offering. To get data compliance reporting on this new relationship, add this link to the existing Blueprint or create a new one using the Walk phase template. That’s it.

Tracking Progress Towards CSDM Compliance

Over time, you’ll see trends and progress toward CSDM compliance or if you are drifting away from it. All the minute details are available, so you will always know what to focus on. DCM prioritizes the deviations it finds, so simply addressing issues in the Top 10 Deviations report on one of the dashboards can make a huge difference.

We advocate for incremental steps toward better compliance and improved data quality. Data Quality is not a project but should be a routine part of daily operations. Data Content Manager is designed with this in mind and can help transform sporadic data quality projects and firefighting into a systematic, measurable process.

See, for example, How Metsä Group uses DCM to guide their data quality efforts.

Get Started with CSDM Compliance

We have now looked at the CSDM Crawl phase, but Data Content Manager supports your efforts before the Crawl phase and to Flying and beyond. As CSDM and ServiceNow evolve, DCM evolves with them.

DCM is a full suite of tools to improve data quality on the platform – for any data. It will accelerate your data quality efforts, regardless of your maturity level.

The first step is to book a demo with us. We will show you how Data Content Manager works and address any questions. After the demo, we can offer to set you up with a Free Guided Trial so you can try DCM out with your data in one of your non-production instances.  

There is no cost or commitment for either of these steps; you get to keep the results.

So, are you ready to get started?

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Explore how Data Content can enhance the quality of your data in ServiceNow. See how you can accelerate your CSDM journey and improve your CMDB or any data in your platform. All without the need for scripting, additional reports, or customizations.


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