Can you “do” ITIL without Configuration Management, and where to start?

itil_v3_whiteMost organisations starting to adopt the ITIL Process Framework will initially focus on the primary processes undertaken by a Service Desk; namely Incident, Problem, and (often) Change. This makes a good deal of sense, since it is widely acknowledged that a good Service Desk can transform a user’s interactions with IT.

Having been both a consumer and provider of IT support, I can report from personal experience that I’d much rather deal with someone who takes the trouble to at least sound interested in helping to fix my problem. Conversely, a Service Desk person who keeps end users at arm’s length was worth their weight in gold when I was the one doing the fixing. Funny how the same scenario can be seen so differently depending on your viewpoint at the time, but whichever side of the fence you’re on it’s pretty clear that a Service Desk is a good thing to have when managing Incidents and Problems.

It’s not my intention to regurgitate the full ITIL guidelines in this post, so we’ll take it as read that consistent Incident Management is a major benefit, and that a structured process to Problem Management, combined with a useful knowledge base of previous resolution actions is key to prompt Service Restoration and ongoing Service Quality.

It’s also widely accepted that the vast majority of IT Service interruptions are directly attributable to (uncontrolled) Change and therefore the introduction of a Change Management process is usually high on the list of priorities for ITIL adopters.

However, implementing Change Management won’t magically prevent Change related outages; a controlled Change has the same potential to produce unexpected results, particularly if the full impact of the Change on components and the Services they support is not completely evaluated and understood. Thus an ineffective Change process may not deliver the improvements everyone hoped for and in extreme cases might lead to an over-confidence that might actually make matters worse!

So, to the question posed in the title of this blog; can anyone really deliver Change Management’s full promise without Service Asset & Configuration Management (specifically a CMDB) to support impact analysis?

I personally think that the answer to that one is definitely “no” – if you want to get the best from Change Management (and most of the other ITIL disciplines) you need an accurate CMDB on which to base your decisions. That is not to say that you don’t get benefit from Change without Asset & Configuration to underpin it; there are organisations that have seen improvements by adopting Change Management and relying on knowledge within the CAB to do their impact analysis, but this can only go so far.

There’s no denying that using a comprehensive and current CMDB to support analysis and decision making will significantly improve the effectiveness of pretty much all of your IT Service Management disciplines. It is also the cornerstone of building your Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS).

So what are you waiting for? – you’ve got your Service Desk up and running and covered off Incident, Problem, and basic Change – it’s time to tackle Asset & Configuration Management and really get ITIL working for you.

In the meantime I’m always happy to share our experiences of implementing successful ITIL projects, so feel free to give me a call at Orb Data on +44 (0)1628 550450 or email me at

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