You’ve probably implemented Change Management processes based around a Change Advisory Board (CAB), held once a week, designed to assess and approve all requests for changes planned to be made to the production environment.
But is your implementation of Change Management holding your business back?
The primary objective of Change Management is to enable beneficial changes to be made, with minimum disruption to IT Services. The Change Management process is used to manage the inherent risk associated with a change, by evaluating if it is necessary, that it is well planned, documented, clearly communicated, and that the potential for any negative impact is understood and managed.
By definition, this implies that there is some sort of gated process, that all changes have to progress through, before they are implemented. Typically this will be the CAB.
So what is the problem with this, and why might it be holding the business back?
Let’s look at the change process from the perspective of someone who wants to carry out a change.
You want to release a new piece of functionality to an application. You don’t see this as being a big risk as it basically involves changing the layout of a few buttons and changing their colour. The change will only take a few minutes to implement and the business has asked for it.
To make a change to a production, you first of all need to raise a request for change form (RFC) that requires a lot of detail on the change that you want to implement, including what the change is, who requested it, why, when and how it is going to be implemented, and your view of the risk of the change. This is duplicating a lot of information you already have. You then submit the form for approval from your manager.
Having obtained their approval you then submit the RFC through to the CAB for it to rubber stamp the change.
Unfortunately you’ve missed the deadline for this week’s CAB and therefore your change is going to have to wait a week before it can be approved. This means that you have to update your RFC to reflect the new dates and get approval again. Finally your change is presented through the CAB and it’s identified that you forgot to include the person from the business requesting the change in the approvals. You have to go back to them to obtain approvals and then resubmit the change to the following weeks CAB, having updated the RFC with another revised date.
Three weeks after the date when you wanted to implement the change, you are finally able to carry it out.
Next time you need to make a similar change you decide to work the system, classify the change as being a low risk, standard change and implement it without having to go to the CAB. Unfortunately the change impacts a key piece of business functionality, and causes a major incident!
Is this an issue with the person wanting to make the change, and should they be held to task?
Ultimately the change process shouldn’t be bypassed in this way, and the person making the change is at fault, however, the fact that they felt it was necessary to carry out the change in this way suggests that there is a problem with the process.
ITIL provides a flexible best practice framework for service management processes, of which change management is one. They should be implemented with a level of pragmatism, flexing and adjusting to the needs of the business.
In the case it would be pragmatic to review the process that these changes go through. Do they actually need to go through the CAB or is the fact that the business owner and product manager approved the change enough.
Perhaps a change in the workflow could be implemented whereby only changes that meet a particular risk profile need to go to the CAB, and as long as other changes have the appropriate online approval, they can be implemented.
The message from this is that you should always continually review your processes, and not be afraid to modify them in reaction to the changing demand of the business and other IT teams.
If you would like to find out how iCore can help you with your Change Management process then please contact us on 0207 868 2405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.