Change Management is an important function in any organization. But, understanding how to implement change management can be very difficult. This article will help you get started by defining some of the essential first things that you need to implement change management. First, let's look at the definition of change management as described in leading industry standards and frameworks.
Understanding the Terminology
The IEEE publishes an authoritative online resource called Sevocab which has the distinct advantage of listing the industry standards where the particular term is used and described. Sevocab describes Change Management as "the judicious use of a means to effect a change, or a proposed change, to a product or service".Sevocab describes Change Management as "the judicious use of a means to effect a change, or a proposed change, to a product or service".
IT Service Management (ITSM) industry framework ITIL v3 describes change management as the process responsible for controlling the lifecycle of all changes. The primary objective of Change Management is to enable benficial changes to be made with minimum disruption to IT services. (Service Transition, p, 229)
In practices, effective change management requires that you implement an automated workflow to help manage the change management lifecycle. Each change should be introduced by a Change Request (CR) which describes exactly what needs to be done to implement the change. CRs are typically reviewed by a Change Control Board (CCB) which has the authority to authorize or deny a change request. The CCB may not know every technical detail necessary to make the right decision about a change request. To help with this effort the Change Advisory Board (CAB) should assist with advising on the potential downstream impact of a change. Members of the CAB are usually subject matter experts (SMEs) for a particular technology and can advise on the potential downstream impact of a change. The CCB however, is more focused on the process of change management and often has to rely upon the CAB for technical advise.
How Much Process Do We Need?
The automated workflow should consist of a CR initiation, followed by review and approvals often with a meeting of the CCB to discuss and evaluate the change request. But how much process is really necessary. The best approach is to take a lesson from Agile and Lean development and only have the absolute minimum amount of process necessary. If this turns out to be insufficient then you will usually need to add an additional step (usually considered a control) to avoid a mistake. The best source of additional IT controls is often from retrospectives held post release which discuss what went well and what needs to be improve. In a future article, we will discuss how help desk incident and problem management can also provide guidance on additional IT controls needed.
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