The DCM Blog

Do You Know if You’re Crawling or Walking?

By Mikko Juola

January 19, 2023
CSDM Walk

From time to time, we look at some of the out-of-the-box tools that ServiceNow® provides for supporting CSDM alignment and improving data quality on the platform. This time we will look at the CSDM & CMDB Data Foundation Dashboards and their latest version, 2.0. We will focus on the CSDM Walk phase.

We’ve written on the topic before. You might also want to look at some of the earlier articles, especially this one: Happy to Crawl with CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard. It looks at the same tools but for the CSDM Crawl Phase.

We’ll continue from there and look at what it means to Walk and how to know what your current status is: are you ready to Run, or are you barely Crawling?

We will also examine what’s new in ServiceNow’s OOB tools and how their compliance reporting has improved. We look at the topic from a data model, data quality, and compliance perspective. We will assume that is what the out-of-the-box CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard is also trying to do.

So, let’s look at the CSDM Data Foundations dashboard again and compare that with Common Service Data Model definitions in the Walk phase and Data Content Manager to see how they work.

What Does it Mean to Walk?

According to the CSDM 4.0 white paper, the Walk phase adds three new Classes to the data model:

  • Technical Service
  • Technical Service Offering
  • Dynamic CI Group

The idea is that “deployed applications and infrastructure need someone to manage and support them.” In other words, every Configuration Item within the “Manage Technical Services” domain should have a relationship to a Technical Service Offering that is part of a Technical Service and responsible for the CIs in an operational sense.

CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard for Walking

The CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard includes different tabs for the various implementation phases (Foundation, Crawl, Walk, Run, and Fly). Below is what the Walk phase indicators and reports look like in our demo instance. Please note that we have a minimal data set. However, we have data in all the related tables.

Walk Phase CSDM Dashboard

The Walk tab on the CSDM Data Foundations dashboard includes three indicators and four matching reports:  

  • Technical Service Offering with reference to Technical Service
  • Technical Service Offering with a Support Group or a Change Group
  • Dynamic CI Groups with CMDB Group
  • Number of Technical Service Offerings – only as a report

The indicators seem a little more dynamic than on the Crawl phase tab, probably because Dynamic CI Groups are dynamic by nature.

Results from our Demo Data

With our demo data, we get the following info from the CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard:

  • 50% compliance for Dynamic CI Groups.
  • 20% compliance for Support Group or Change Group references on Technical Service Offerings
  • 41% of our Technical Service Offerings refer correctly to a Parent Technical Service

In our demo data, all of our Technical Service Offerings have Support Groups, and 38% have a Change Group. However, we got a result of 20%, and we’re struggling to understand why. We would have thought we’d get a higher score and could not figure out how the result was calculated.

What about Dynamic CI Groups? Our data set only had four Service Offerings with a Dynamic CI Group. All of the other offerings were missing a Dynamic CI Group entirely. So, having two offerings with a Dynamic CI Group that had a CMDB Group and tow other offerings where the CMDB Group was missing made us 50% compliant. However, there were 29 Service Offerings, so we’re unclear about the 25 that did NOT have a Dynamic CI Group.

The CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard provides interesting metrics and links to  “playbooks” on analyzing and solving problems. Nevertheless, as before, it seems incomplete. Furthermore, we are confused about the results since we don’t understand the math behind them.

Dashboard Version 2.0

What about the new 2.0 version of the CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard?

For the Walk phase, there is nothing new according to the ServiceNow Product documentation. All new KPIs in the 2.0 version seem to have been added to the CMDB Data Foundations dashboard, while the CSDM sibling didn’t get anything new.

So, what can you do to address the shortcomings of the out-of-the-box CSDM Foundations Dashboard? We discussed the different options earlier, so we will now focus on how Data Content Manager simplifies the CSDM Walk Phase with no scripting or customizations.

Walking with Data Content Manager

With Data Content Manager, you define indicators and matching reports by simply defining Blueprints. For the CSDM Walk phase, our CSDM Content Pack includes ready-made Blueprint templates for all the CI Classes that are included in the Walk phase.

Adjusting these templates to match your specific requirements and use cases is easy. Let’s look at this template for Technical Service Offerings as an example. The template is directly from the CSDM Content Pack and contains all of the data requirements for Technical Service Offerings, according to CSDM.

CSDM Walk Phase Blueprint

Comparing the Blueprint to the Dashboard

If we compare the Walk Phase Blueprint template to the indicators available on the out-of-the-box dashboard, we see that:

  • “Parent” and “Support Group” references are available on both.
  • The dashboard includes “Change Group” and “Dynamic CI Group + CMDB Group” related indicators that are
  • The Blueprint includes other items related to Service Catalog, Technical CIs, and responsible persons on different levels that are not on the dashboard.

Please note that CSDM doesn’t say that Service Offerings should have a Change Group. The Change Group reference field is available on the form view, just like the Approval group, but then again, the Approval group is not part of this dashboard.

CSDM Walk Dashboard vs DCM Blueprint

In 5 minutes, I updated the Blueprint to include the missing elements and removed some that we did not need. As a result, all of my reporting will also be automatically updated.

Modified CSDM Walk Phase Blueprint

Did you notice the “OR” link on the Blueprint between Application Service and Dynamic CI Group relationships to Service Offering? In this Blueprint, we expect a Technical Service Offering to have a Contains type of CI Relationship to either an Application Service or a Dynamic CI Group. Both are not required.

You can extend the same logic to other CIs related to Technical Service Offerings like this:

Modified CSDM Walk Phase Blueprint

So, in our Blueprint (data model), we have now defined that the Technical Service Offering should have a relationship to any of the following: Dynamic CI Group, Applications Service, or Configuration item.

The Full Scope of the Walk Phase

The CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard seems to look at things from the Technical Service Offering’s point of view. However, it’s equally important to look at things from the “Infrastructure CIs” point of view.

In addition to checking that every Technical Service Offering has required references and relationships in place, we should also check that all “technical configuration items” are related to Technical Service Offerings in one way or another.

With DCM, we can simply create another blueprint that defines and validates requirements from the Configuration Items’ point of view:

CI Blueprint

The above Blueprint defines that every (non-retired, non-service) CI should be related to a Technical Service Offering either via a direct CI Relationship (cmdb_rel_ci) or the Service Association (svc_ci_assoc) record. Dynamic CI Groups use these “Service Association” records to connect CIs within a group into a Service Offering.

No Code and No Need for New Custom Reports

With the out-of-the-box data quality indicators, you first need to define the indicators, then create new reports to show the results and add all the widgets into your dashboards.

With DCM, you only need to run an audit against your Blueprints, and the audit results will be immediately available on DCM Dashboards for different stakeholders. There is no need to change or customize any reports or dashboards. They all follow the Blueprints.

Here’s an example of the “Data Compliance – Weekly Trend” report when you have audits running against Blueprints in different CSDM implementation phases.

Compliance Trend Implementation Phase

In this example, Walk phase data compliance is already 75%, while data against the Fly phase data models are just 43% compliant. As mentioned before, reports such as this one become available once the Blueprints are defined. There is no additional work involved.

How to get Started?

The easiest way to see how all of this works in practice is to get in touch with us for a demo. We will show you how Data Content Manager and the CSDM Content Pack work together to help you accelerate your CSDM alignment.

Additional CSDM Resources

We have written a lot on aligning with the Common Service Data Model and how Data Content Manager can help ease the journey.

Here are some excellent places to start:

Please reach out to us if you have any questions!

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