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Change Control vs. Change Management: Moving Beyond IT

By Edward Stickel With some of its foundational texts now decades old, IT change management is one of the most studied and utilized elements of the systems and infrastructure management discipline.
Mar 14, 2005
By

ITSM Watch Staff





By Edward Stickel

With some of its foundational texts now decades old, IT change management is one of the most studied and utilized elements of the systems and infrastructure management discipline. With so much academic thinking and so many years of practical application behind it, one would think that the effective management of change would now be commonplace in IT organizations and the companies they serve.

Surprisingly, the opposite is true. Author and IT Service Management expert, Harris Kern, reports that in a recent survey of 40 corporate IT infrastructure managers a surprising 60% admitted that their processes to handle change are not effective in communicating and coordinating changes occurring within their production environment. Among the key findings of the study:
  • Not all changes are logged 95%
  • Changes not thoroughly tested 90%
  • Lack of process enforcement 85%
  • Poor change communication and dissemination 65%
  • Lack of centralized process ownership 60%
  • Lack of change approval policy 50%
  • Frequent change notification after the fact 40% 1
More than an overall indictment of poor process implementation, these findings illustrate the extent to which organizations rely on a change control process to handle IT-related changes, when such a process should be only one component of a larger enterprise-wide change management regime. The problems resulting from this condition are twofold:
  • The scope of the process is not sufficient to cover all the necessary factors and tasks in making well-advised decisions on changes and implementing them effectively
  • Because the value of the change control process is not apparent to the parties involved, it is seen as a superfluous, bureaucratic exercise and is not taken seriously, which results in poor compliance
The ultimate result, of course, is general and specific organizational inadequacy in handling change of the kind that the survey results describe.

By drawing some clear distinctions between the scope and nature of change management and of change control, this article hopes to point a way for otherwise competent organizations to address their deficits in handling changes to the IT infrastructure.


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