Leverage CMDB best practices for long-term success

A healthy CMDB can be a game changer in your organization, bringing benefits in streamlined IT asset management security, compliance, and more. But you’ll need to be intentional about the tools, teams, and processes you implement to achieve maximum value.

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What is a CMDB, and why is it valuable to your business?

A configuration management database (CMDB) is a shared repository that stores IT assets and configuration data. A configuration item (CI)—a router, server, business application, virtual machine, etc.— is identified and imported into the CMDB via a data import tool.1 This provides a single source of truth and visibility for all of your organization’s IT assets.

Having a CMDB can bring value to your business by streamlining siloed data and assets, giving teams better visibility into all the resources in your enterprise. This can help with incident identification and response plans, outage prevention and remediation, compliance, security, and more. It also helps with your internal auditing and planning, as your assets are more easily identified and assessed in a single repository rather than scattered across the business.

Despite its many benefits, a CMDB is only as good as its management. CMDB data must be accurate, relevant, and up-to-date, and CMDB health should be consistently assessed and remediated as needed. This is where CMDB best practices are critical.

5 CMDB best practices for implementation and planning

  1. Gain buy-in from key stakeholders and clearly communicate the value of the CMDB.

    • Ensuring all stakeholders, from executives to the teams who will be doing the tactical work, are aware of the value of a CMDB will help keep everyone on track during implementation and management processes. This will also help justify any related resource allocations and/or costs.
  2. Leverage CMDB implementation best practices for a strong start.

    • Understand your short- and long-term goals and vision for your CMDB and identify the outcomes you want it to achieve. Determine any relevant performance indicators.
    • Assemble a cross-functional team and clearly define each team member’s role, authority, and responsibilities. Consider working with a trusted partner to assist with implementation, monitoring, or both.
    • Keep processes in mind from the start and don’t get caught up in details too early on. Ensure that your CMDB is properly implemented before making changes or optimizations.
    • Be flexible and understand that the CMDB is not “set it and forget it”—it will require continuous monitoring and maintenance to work at its best.
  3. Perform regular audits and maintenance to ensure CMDB health.

    • Your CMDB data should be relevant to your business, accurate, and up to date. Ensuring that your teams are regularly monitoring the data and adjusting where needed can prevent overwhelming amounts of data from rendering the CMDB unusable.
  4. Automate processes to ensure frequent and accurate maintenance and management.

    • Monitoring, management, and maintenance can be cumbersome processes and take up considerable amounts of human time, so look to automate where you can. Automating these tasks will free up your employees to focus on optimizing, training, and responding to incidents when appropriate.
  5. Audit your CMDB data for relevance and focus on the most valuable assets.

    • In many cases, a CMDB can include overwhelming amounts of extraneous, old, or irrelevant data and assets. Auditing your data during your CMDB implementation, and continuing to do so, can help reduce the amount of unnecessary information stored—making it much easier for your teams to focus on what matters most and communicate that accordingly.

Get the most value out of your CMDB

While implementing a CMDB is important, just implementing it is not enough to drive measurable value. A successful CMDB involves a synergy of your technology, team members, and processes. As such, your organization should also develop and train teams on practices that achieve measurable results and communicable value. These practices can include maintenance and monitoring, audits, reconciliations, and more, and should also include standards around what data to include in the CMDB, what level of detail is required, and who is responsible for updates and reviews. Doing so aligns your teams on shared goals, educates those involved, and delegates responsibility, alleviating confusion and overlap in work. This also ensures that your CMDB is not cluttered with too much extraneous data, that your data is accurate, and that it’s being stored in a single, secure environment.

Getting started on your CMDB journey

A healthy CMDB can be a game changer in your organization, bringing benefits in streamlined IT asset management (ITAM), security, compliance, and more. But you’ll need to be intentional about the tools, teams, and processes you implement alongside the CMDB to achieve maximum value. CMDB best practices can be the difference between an overwhelming, complicated, often frustrating tool and one that makes your organization more efficient.

The right CMDB for your organization will depend on your specific abilities and goals, but it should include strong discovery capabilities, integrated functions, robust support, and more. Once you’ve selected a CMDB, research and employ best practices for both implementation and long-term work. A CMDB is a long-term investment that takes continuous assessment, refinement, and communication among teams; however, it can bring considerable benefits that can be felt across all levels of the enterprise. Be prepared to be flexible, and consider working alongside a trusted partner if the implementation or maintenance is too much for your internal team to handle alone.

The ServiceNow® platform is the premier enterprise service management solution for IT, human resources, and other important business operations. As an Elite Partner and managed services provider, CAI offers ServiceNow consulting, implementation, ongoing support, and customized business applications that extend the ServiceNow platform. Contact us to get started on your CMDB journey today.


  1. “What Is a Configuration Management Database (CMDB)?” ServiceNow.

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