What is the difference between CMS and SKMS?

Dear The
I am prepping to take ITIL v3 Intermediate- Rel, Control & Validation and am confused on the difference between CMS and SKMS. The Service Transition book gives me the impression that the CMS is only the data & information layer of the SKMS and therefore the knowledge processing layer and presentation layer are not in the scope of the CMS. Is this correct?

Beats Me

Dear Beats

ITIL is very clear on this - you just need to read the books carefully.

The SKMS contains everything you can possibly imagine:

  • provide full lifecycle management from acquisition to disposal for a 'complete' inventory of CIs ST p65
  • ...where those CIs include business cases, plans, managemkent, organisation, knowledge, people, processes, capital, systems, apps, information, infrastructure, facilities, people, service models, acceptance criteria, tangible and intangible assets, software, requirements and agreements, media, spares... ST p67-68
  • Contain the "experience of staff" ST p 147
  • contain data about "weather, user numbers and behaviour, organisation's performance figures" ST p 147
  • record supplier's and partners' requirements, abilities and expectations ST p 147
  • record user skill levels ST p 147
  • record and relate all RFCs, incidents, problems, known errors and releases ST p77
  • group, classify and define CIs ST p72
  • uniquely name and label all CIs ST p72
  • relate all these items with multiple types of relationships including compoentn breakdown structure, composition of a service, ownership, dependencies, release packaging, product makeup, supporting documentation... ST p72-73 including "part of", "connected to", "uses" and "installed on" ST p77
  • integrate data from document stores, file stores, CMDB, events and alerts, legacy systems, and enterprise applications, integrated via schema mapping, reconcilaition, synchronisation, ETL and/or mining ST fig4.39 p151
  • provide tools against this integrated data for query and analysis, reporting, forecasting, modelling and dashboards ST fig4.39 p151
  • take baselines and snapshots of all this dataST p77
  • perform verification and audit of all this data ST p81
  • be based on a Service Management information model ST p150
  • measure the use made of the data ST p151
  • evaluate usefulness of reports produced ST p151

whereas the CMS only contains NEARLY everything you can possibly imagine. The CMS contains ALL the information and related files for the following CI types (ST p67)

  • business case, service management plans, lifecycle plans, service design packages, release and change plans, test plans
  • management, organisation, processes, knowledge [???], people
  • financial capital, systems, applications, information, data, infrastructure and facilities, financial capital [again, must be important], people [again]
  • service model
  • service package [not to be confused with a service design package]
  • release package
  • service acceptance criteria
  • business strategy or other policies, regulatory or statutory requirements
  • tangible (datacentre) and intangible assets such as software
  • customer requirements and agreements,
  • releases from suppliers
  • external services
  • interface CIs [wtf they are]

The CMS is therefore a subset of SKMS (ST p147), or the bottom two layers of the SKMS (ST p69), or part of the bottom layer of the SKMS (ST p151)

ST p68 makes the good point that financial asset information will now be held in the CMS but you can tell your Finance department that you will still make the financial data available to them for their reporting purposes. I'm sure they will be pleased to hand this data over to IT control in internal IT systems and rely on IT to make it available to them.

Sadly ITIL provides no data model for CMS or SKMS but don't worry, the vendors are delighted to sell you their proprietary models.

Note also that the CMS also includes the Known Error Database (ST p 68 "The CMS maintains... any related ... known errors") except when it doesn't (SO p66 "the KEDB, like the CMS, forms part of a larger... SKMS")

The concepts of CMS and SKMS may initially seem to be only half-baked and conjectural, but rest assured that ITIL contains only industry proven established best practice.

It's all in the books if you take the time to look

Good luck!
The ITIL Wizard



Hi Rob,

actually there seems to be some meaning with the madness. Except for a few of the examples you have found, what differentiates the service assets (capabilities as well as resources) managed in the CMS from the full SKMS is Change Control. The items managed in the CMS is expected to be under som form of Change Control while the items that forms part of the remainder of the SKMS such as process records, AMIS, CMIS, ISMS and unstructured knowledge not is expected to be under Change Control.

But I am the first to admit, that it can be a bit difficult to read from the book, and that I for most organisations find a bit too ambitious to have test plans or service design packages under Change Control even though I know a few Pharmaceutical companies that actually goes that far.

Best regards,


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