We work with data quality and management every day, so we continuously talk to people on their CSDM journeys who wonder how to know if you’re already Crawling, Walking, Running, or even Flying? Out of the box you get tools like CSDM Data Foundation Dashboard which are a good start, but will not take you all the way.
Let’s look at the CSDM Data Foundations dashboard and compare that with Data Content Manager to see what the difference is and get a proper answer to the question. I’ll limit to Crawling in this article and expand to Walking and Running later.
CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard
CSDM Data Foundations Dashboard is a free, out-of-the-box tool to follow up on key data quality indicators for each CSDM implementation phase. You can find it in the ServiceNow Store.
Let’s look at how the CSDM Foundations Dashboard supports the Crawl phase.
So, the Crawl tab on the CSDM Data Foundations dashboard includes three indicators and three matching reports:
- Business Application with Application Service Relationship
- Application Services with “Consumes::Consumed By” Relationship to Business Application
- Application Services with Business Application Relationships
You get results on current vs. target score (=100%) for these three things and a link to a playbook that describes what you should do to improve.
However, compared to what the CSDM whitepaper (link to CSDM 4.0 draft) says about the Crawl phase, this dashboard only covers one relationship (in both directions) from the whole Crawl phase data model.
What about IT infrastructure below Application Services or the new SDLC Component CI Class? Or some specific attributes on the Business Application, Application Service, SDLC Component, or technical CI classes like Server, Application, or Network Gear?
While the dashboard provides valuable metrics, it hardly seems complete. Having that one relationship is a good start, but clearly, it alone does not make you compliant with the CSDM Crawl phase requirements.
It Fell Short. Then what?
So, what can you do? I’ll offer three alternatives:
- Wait for ServiceNow to expand the free tools
- Add more indicators and reports to this dashboard via scripting and customization
- Take control and look at more flexible tools
Wait or Customize
Waiting for something that might or might not happen in the future is usually not a viable option. You need results now. So, let’s look at some of the challenges related to adding more indicators to this dashboard:
- First, you would be altering the OOB dashboard. That is a customization, it will impact your upgrades, and inevitably increase your maintenance load and cost.
- Second, these types of changes require admin skills and permissions. Scripts are needed for compliance audits and new reports for any new indicator. That is time-consuming to begin with and adds to your future maintenance.
- Third, creating new PA Indicators may require a Performance Analytics license.
All in all, waiting or going the scripting route are unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming options. They cost money in time spent or licenses. Furthermore, you will not get immediate results.
Let’s then look at how you can overcome these limitations with a visual and intuitive tool like Data Content Manager:
- Create a visual blueprint that includes all required classes and their relationships and attributes,
- Run an audit against the Blueprint for immediate results
- Check further reports and trends from the ready-made dashboards.
Easy. Let me show you some examples.
Let’s first do what the OOB dashboard does with DCM and create two super-simple blueprints. The first will check if all Business Applications have the required “Consumes::Consumed By” CI Relationship to Application Services. The other one will check the same link in the opposite direction. They would look like this:
These two simple Blueprints do what the CSDM Foundation Dashboard did. They check the “Consumes::Consumed By” relationship from both directions. It takes only a couple of minutes to create these when you have DCM installed.
The Entire Crawl
As I mentioned earlier, the above does not make you CSDM Crawl compliant. In real life, you probably want to check other things as well. So, let’s look at a Blueprint that includes all classes in the Crawl phase and some important Foundation data references that go beyond the minimum Crawl requirement.
Effectively, if your data is compliant with this Blueprint, you are CSDM Crawl compliant from the data model’s perspective. Even though it might look complex, this Blueprint takes about 15 minutes to draw, and you can get started with our free CSDM templates.
Blueprints are Active
These blueprints are not just static pictures but can include dynamic conditions based on the data you want to audit.
So, for example, you can define that downstream relationships from Application Service to Application or Server are only required for Production environments. Or that it’s enough to have either an Application or a Server below the Application Service.
Running an audit against the Blueprint will give you all the needed reports.
Here’s an example of a single audit run and its results, grouped by Business Applications:
And here are the same results grouped by Blueprint Elements:
In this case, the audited records are Business Applications, and you can easily see which ones have deviations from the Blueprint you used for the audit.
If grouped by Blueprint Elements, you get a quick overview of what areas of your data model (Blueprint) are in good shape and where there is work to be done. For example, you can immediately see that all your Business Applications have an IT Application Owner in this case.
However, many of them are missing the “Application Service >> Consumes::Consumed By >> Business Application” CI relationships.
Detailed audit messages will describe precisely what is OK and what is not. Here’s an example of audit messages for one of the audited Business Applications called “Customer Portal”.
This level is detail is available for any individual audit instance. You can automatically create tasks based on this, and you can use the underlying Blueprint to fix the deviations the audit found.
The Big Picture is in the Dashboards
DCM comes with extensive reporting capabilities and built-in dashboards. They are based on Blueprints that YOU define, not rules that somebody else has put in place. You don’t need scripting or case-specific reports. You only need to define your requirements into Blueprints, let audits run, and you will get the results.
I believe the above audit dashboard will give you a complete picture of if you are compliant with CSDM Crawl or not. The CSDM Data Foundations dashboard only gave you a portion of the big picture.
We’ve written about the difference between Data Content Manager and ServiceNow’s out-of-the-box tools before, and will continue to do so in the future, too.
I will look at the CSDM Walk phase in my next article. I will show you how to take the dashboards to a personal level for the people you depend on to keep your data up to date. Making it personal is very powerful in creating a sense of responsibility for data and establishing ownership.
Please get in touch with us so that we can show you what we described here, along with many other things that will help you improve the quality of your data in ServiceNow.