How many Configuration Librarian(s) do we need

By ITIL® from Experience© with contribution by John Gabel

The number of individuals required depends on:

  1. The scope of the process (e.g. includes Asset Management, type of Configuration items managed)
  2. Other duties the Configuration Librarian will fulfill (e.g. manage the Definitive Media Library)
  3. The Centralization or decentralization of the CMDB updates (i.e. staffed position1 vs. roles2 )
  4. The volume of transactions and expected effort required to complete each one

The description of the Configuration Librarian evolved a lot between ITIL® version 2 and version 33 Thus, rely on your process to understand the responsibilities the librarian is expected to fulfill. As a matter of fact, it is always preferable to design the process first, before determining people’s roles and responsibilities. For example, if the organization’s Configuration Management process includes Asset Management its design will be different than if it does not.

Several organizations design their Configuration Management and Change Management processes to centralize all updates to Configuration Items (CI) and the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) so that they are done by the Configuration Librarian(s). Here are some steps to determine how many positions are required for a centralized approach.

First, prepare a Job Description

Definition of JOB DESCRIPTION: an orderly record of the essential activities involved in the performance of a task that is abstracted from a job analysis and used in classifying and evaluating jobs and in the selection and placement of employees
Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/job%20description

to identify the responsibilities of the position. As mentioned, look at the process for guidance. For example, in addition to creating and updating CIs the individual(s) may be responsible to:
  • Be the custodian of the Definitive Media Library
  • Manage software licenses
  • Perform CI audits
  • Identify and report unauthorized changes to the Change Manager

Second, estimate the workload of these responsibilities by analyzing the expected volume of transactions for the process. For example:

  • The number of CIs acquired, retired or life-cycled each year (most Accounting/Finance Department typically has this data if it’s not available from IT)
  • The number of CI attributes maintained
  • The number of Request For Change (RFC) requiring an update to CIs based on the scope of the Configuration Management process
  • The number of audits conducted each year/quarter/month
  • The work required to address discrepancies between the live environment and the CI records generated by a discovery tool

Next estimate how long it would take to process each transaction and to fulfill the responsibilities. Keep in mind that the functionality of the ITSM tool can greatly influence the workload especially if the Configuration Librarian has to manually transpose information from the RFC to the CI record instead of receiving a workflow task and clicking on the “Update CI” button. Also, the resource(s) leave (e.g. vacation, sick days) must be factored in their work week along with approximately a 10% overhead due to meetings, process improvement work, training and other lost effort.

Nonetheless, estimating how many people are required is a challenge especially for a new process as it will require more attention and work at the onset. Although the start-up effort typically diminishes as the process is incorporated into the usual work practices this freed up effort is usually absorbed by additional transaction volume due to process uptake and request for improvements.

Given that in some organizations cannot staff a position4 for this work due to financial constraints, an alternative and the preferred approach for the Configuration Librarian is to make it a role. In the 2011 Edition of version 3, ITIL® focuses the Configuration Librarian as a role and a custodian of CIs. Using a role approach at least one Configuration Librarian is needed per types of CIs in the CMDB (e.g. servers, network equipment). A similar approach to evaluate the number of positions required can then be used to determine how many people each group requires to perform this role.

In summary:

  1. Design your process and determine if CMDB updates will be performed by a position or a role (e.g. centralized vs. decentralized)
  2. For a position: a) prepare a job description, b) estimate volume of transactions, c) estimate how much effort is required to fulfill the job responsibilities and to process the transactions and, d) factor in non-work/productive time of the resource(s).
  3. For a role, prepare a role description and estimate the effort required for that team.

Regardless if a position or role is used it is important that a backup individual(s) is identified to avoid the process from being on “vacation” while the individual is away — especially if the organization has a policy that no un-registered CIs can be deployed thus, preventing the organization from making certain changes.


More on Configuration Management

ITIL Process > Configuration Management
Implementation > People

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