LapIT designs and implements solutions for information and communication technology environment services in Northern Finland. Their customers are mainly municipal, public administration, and healthcare organizations. We interviewed Leena Broas, Development Manager at LapIT, about how LapIT uses Data Content Manager to improve their CMDB data quality .
Read more about LapIT on their website. (In Finnish)
Q: Hi, Leena! How did you first hear about Data Content Manager, and how do you use it at LapIT?
We operate as an in-house company in Northern Finland, providing comprehensive ICT services to our clients, which include municipalities and the Lapland Welfare Area.
We have been doing configuration management even before my time. Around the beginning of 2020, we clearly defined the roles and determined what information we wanted to monitor in a structured manner in the CMDB.
Data Content Manager was introduced to us then, and we included it in our project when restarting our Service Asset and Configuration Management (SACM) work. We realized that DCM is a great tool to audit the specific information we need.
Q: Did you start with a clear target or specific data models?
We did some CMDB modeling exercises before using DCM, but data reviews were done manually. So, we started converting those Visio diagrams into DCM Blueprints. We had vast amounts of service asset information, and DCM was perfect for digesting that.
Also, we saw DCM as a part of developing our configuration management. We saw that it would make our data more consistent, up-to-date, and reliable than ever before.
So, we started more with the operational aspects. When we provide a service to our customers, we need to see a cross-section of that service. When we have quality data, we can understand what the Service consists of, what are its individual components and how they connect to and relate to each other.
Q: Were there any particular problems you needed to solve?
No, we didn’t really have any significant problems. Instead, we saw growth happening constantly. With DCM, we could now do configuration management properly, which drove us forward to get things rocking and systematically develop the CMDB.
Q: What has happened during your time using DCM?
Over the years, we have discussed the best approaches to managing our extensive service asset data. We began with a manageable scope and incrementally grew, adopting first-level blueprints for all domains relevant to our development work. We then rolled out training programs for people in various roles, focusing on the Business Application domain.
Our approach demanded sustained, long-term efforts, commencing with modest steps and gradually extending our scope. We aimed to ensure data accuracy and establish proper relations between data sets.
We are transitioning towards a system where our scheduled audits automatically generate tasks for responsible individuals to review and correct their data. Simultaneously, we are incrementally expanding the domains subject to audit.
Communication is important. For example, we had a training session with over 60 participants today.
Q: So, at some point, we started talking about bringing this closer to people and teams in terms of measuring. How did that get started?
Yes, we now measure at the company level and added this KPI to the relevant peoples’ scorecards. This makes this entire activity very interesting to the people involved. We started with a low threshold, creating blueprints for the essential data we wanted to have up to date: networks, servers, end-user devices, and business applications.
We wanted to measure the quality of all this information over time to see how the data quality behaves. So, we created a Blueprint that audits the data monthly with the beginning of the year as a baseline.
These audits have been invaluable in monitoring our progress, and we can see a constant improvement in our data quality. They help us identify and rectify data deviations as they occur, eliminating the need for manual reviews and repetitive checks.
We’ve improved the data continuously, especially in the business application domain. It’s evident that our work has positively impacted the quality of our service assets.
Q: Do you think the improvement is due to using DCM?
I believe the improvements we’ve experienced are significantly attributable to our use of DCM. It provides us with tangible evidence as to whether certain requirements are met, and we can see the compliance level of the data from different points of view. This gives us a factual foundation for our work rather than relying on gut feelings.
We now know our current state and can create goals and measure them. We improved by almost 20 percentage points during the first year alone. That’s going from about 60% compliance to 80% in a year. It was a significant statistic. It helped to raise the profile of CMDB and configuration management.
Q: Have you been able to identify business benefits?
Absolutely. Accurate, up-to-date, reliable, and interconnected data allow us to realize the benefits of our CMDB more effectively.
For instance, our teams interfacing with customers are in a much stronger position to respond to customer needs when the information chain is in prime condition. This enables us to deliver superior service to them, subsequently boosting customer satisfaction.
It is not only about customer satisfaction either. I would also closely associate this with work well-being because our experts want answers without constantly wondering where to look for information or what they should do next.
To summarize, DCM has enabled us to provide quality services to our customers and ensured that our experts could deliver those services while also focusing on their well-being, giving them the opportunity to do their jobs and easily access information from the CMDB to use in their tasks.
Q: You have been using DCM for a long time. What best practices can you identify for someone who is beginning?
In conversations with colleagues about DCM, I often emphasize the importance of starting with manageable goals. Before deploying it, it is important to understand the tool and how it helps you work towards those goals. Dedicating ample time during the implementation phase to comprehend its capabilities and potential advantages to your organization is vital.
It makes sense to begin with the fundamentals, creating a sturdy base and then methodically expanding the scope of our activities. Rather than trying to reach our ultimate objectives and implement extensive changes simultaneously, I advocate for establishing a strong groundwork and subsequently developing it in a step-by-step, thoughtful manner. This way, you can get things done, show progress, and feel accomplished.
It’s also important not to be overly stressed about the steps you’re taking. Would I have done things differently? My answer is no.
Sometimes our initial efforts didn’t yield the expected outcomes, but this trial and error helped us comprehend what the tool does and how it functions. We’ve continuously adjusted to improve and get more precise results.
Q: How do you see the future?
In terms of our future with data quality, I see it as bright. I believe the understanding of configuration management and its potential benefits will continue to grow, with DCM playing a significant role.
So far, DCM has helped us identify areas for improvement, recognize challenges, and take appropriate action. I anticipate this trend to continue, and we’ll consistently extract insights and learn from the tool. We acknowledge that we need to tackle the most pressing issues first, then gradually advance development for better results. The future holds nothing but improved outcomes.
Q: So, the future entails more of the same, coupled with continuous improvements?
Absolutely, and that’s how it should be. Configuration Management must be an evolving process. Achieving a good state once is not enough. Given the constant changes in operating environments, company services, operations, and the life cycles of devices and services, this needs to be a perpetual process.
It’s essentially an unending cycle of change.
Thank you Leena for the interview!
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