Is there a standard we can use for the CMDB structure

By ITIL® from Experience©

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is an “open source” hierarchical convention or taxonomy1 used to classify products and services. Intended to be used for eCommerce and to facilitate spending analysis it contains over 50,000 entries. It covers a wide range of industry products from live plants and animals to permanent and temporary buildings along with practically every services of the economy including the public sector.

The code set’s hierarchy has 4 levels: Segment, Family, Class and Commodity. It also has a unique numbering scheme making each entry unique. As seen in the following table, the Segment and Family levels have limited value for a Configuration Management Database (CMDB). However the following Segments and lower level entries are of particular interest to Information Management/Technology:

  • 43000000 Information Technology Broadcasting and Telecommunications
  • 44000000 Office Equipment and Accessories and Supplies
  • 45000000 Printing and Photographic and Audio and Visual Equipment and Supplies
  • 80000000 Management and Business Professionals and Administrative Services

As an example, this tables lists entries related to computer printers.

As seen in the table, entries related to a certain topic, like a printer, can be found in several levels (i.e. branch) of the code. Fortunately, the web site enables you to search by keyword (e.g. printer, network, computer, software) to locate relevant sections of the code. It is quite useful since it can be somewhat difficult to find a Commodity given its volume (the English PDF version 16_0901 has 8,134 pages!). Using Filters in the Microsoft Excel file that is available for purchase also helps navigate the code set.

The advantages of using the UNSPSC include:

  • A comprehensive reference of services and products
  • A defined hierarchy
  • A numbering scheme
  • Generic names (i.e. vendor and industry neutral)
  • Descriptive names
  • The ability do to expenditure analysis by groups
  • Available in multiple languages

Perhaps the biggest advantage is that it minimizes the endless terminology and semantics debates to determine what labels to use in the CMDB. It can also be used to determine names for a Service Catalogue.

A free PDF version of the Code set is available for download while a Microsoft Excel file is available for a nominal fee.

For additional information consult:


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1. Taxonomy: A classification of things, or the principles underlying such a classification. The term may be applied to relationship schemes such as parent–child hierarchies and network structures. A taxonomy might also be a simple organization of kinds of things into groups, or even an alphabetical list.

Source: Best Management Practice portfolio: common glossary of terms and definitions

Version 1, October 2012 http://www.best-management-practice.com/?DI=635846


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