One of the frequently raised questions on configuration management has been this:

As people are a key part of Service management, can they be treated as configuration Items?

I doubt if ITIL has ever given a clear answer to this. I have had multiple debates with different people on this.  As my nature goes, I tries to think opposite to the view point of the person whom I am debating with.  So I have been on both sides of the fence in these debates – for and against.

Here are the arguments I used to put forward in favour of treating people as CIs:

  • There are attributes (name, user Ids, contact details, location, role etc) statuses (on leave, on travel, on job, in training etc) as well as relationships (is reporting to, is using, is owning, is responsible for etc) that you can associate with people – just like any other CI.
  • It is important to have a centralized information on the People as well for Service management – just like any other CIs.

In one of the debates, the challenge thrown upto me on my argument was: ‘If people are CIs, how we will ‘release’ people CIs?’

Personally I am not sure if that is a criteria for saying if one thing is a CI or not. But still, I decided to take the challenge head-on with the argument:

‘What is the real meaning of Release? – taking a hardware/software (or any other such component), build it – to suit the requirement(as defined in the approved change), test it and then deploy to live environment. If that is the case, even people can go through release! You hire a person with basic skill sets, put them through the required induction and trainings, ensure he has acquire the skills and put him on job (make him live!!).

Now what could be the arguments against this proposition of treating people as CIs?:

  • People are ‘human resources’ who are tracked and accounted by the HR (or personal) department – not IT resources (though even I am not fully convinced on this statement :-)). Based on the needs, people are associated to ROLES required by Service management.
  • So it might be better to treat the Service management roles as CIs – Incident manager, Network specialist, Service desk manager, Service level manager etc.
  • All the people specific attributes can be recorded for these roles – including the details of which person is currently doing that role.

Honestly, still I am a bit more tilted towards the first argument.

But as always in cases related to ITIL, I will go with the conclusion :”It depends…”