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Top Ten Tips for ITIL Change Management

Implementing Change Management is much more than a simple process roll-out -- it is a major strategic undertaking. Here's how to get it right.
Dec 5, 2007
By

Roy Morrison





Today’s organizations are faced with unending competition, changing circumstances and increased customer demands. To remain viable and competitive, their IT and services organizations must be in complete alignment with the strategic goals of the organization.

In businesses, this means that IT has to be a partner in delivering value to the customer. One of the important challenges of doing this is to ensure that changes are implemented without disrupting the delivery of that value to the customer. ITIL Change Management (CM) provides the necessary framework to guide organizations in meeting this challenge.

While no methodology can guarantee absolute success, a standardized Change Management process with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, increases the likelihood that the business objectives and goals are successfully achieved and limits the likelihood of embarrassing and costly mistakes in implementation.

ITIL Change Management is one of the most effective ways to provide stability to the IT organization. It is the linchpin of any ITIL implementation because it both controls many of the ITIL processes and also ensures the other processes are not attempting to work with an unstable environment.

PA Consulting Group’s experience with defining, developing and deploying ITIL solutions has made the importance of Change Management apparent, and we have compiled a list of our Top Ten Tips to use when implementing an ITIL Change Management process.

1. Clarify what Change Management will accomplish in your organization. Many corporations struggle with defining ITIL in general and Change Management in particular. The most common misunderstanding is the assumption that implementing Change Management will fix issues that are related to Release Management or Configuration Management.

Change Management focuses on the oversight and approval aspects of the process, ensuring that only authorized changes are being worked on. It is more related to organization change than the operational aspects of change.

2. Articulate the benefits of Change Management to each level of the organization. Using a top-down organizational approach is usually the most effective way to establish Change Management. When the leaders of an organization demonstrate the commitment and participation to implement a Change Management program, the better the chance for success.

Getting buy-in at all levels is critical to the success of the program. The first step to achieving a successful buy-in is identifying all stakeholder groups that are affected by such an implementation.

Stakeholders need to understand the benefits on a personal and organizational level (What’s in it for me?). Clearly defining and presenting to each stakeholder what those benefits will be, and conversely, establishing and enforcing policies that address the penalties and repercussions for bypassing the process is essential. Finally, to ensure buy-in and understanding among everyone, be sure to communicate the same message to everyone involved as to what those policies will cover.

3. Define what a Change is. The most important concept to convey is that everything in the IT world can have a change element to it. Nothing should fly under the radar.

All Installs, Moves, Adds and Changes (IMAC’s) to the infrastructure, and any software changes should fall under the control of Change Management. Even the most seemingly innocuous changes can cause major disruptions if no one knows about them. This can be especially true if you are implementing Change Management in an immature, silo-structured organization.

4. Establish clear roles and responsibilities for the Change Advisory Board (CAB), Change Manager, and Change Authority. Creating an Executive Committee for the CAB is a good way to keep the executives engaged in the process without subjecting them to the low level details that change management sometimes involves. Having executive sponsorship increases your leverage when encountering parties resistant to changing the status quo.

An effective and successful Change Manager is one who proactively ensures that the right resources, both technical and business, attend the CAB and present viable, justifiable changes. The Change Manager can be the final arbiter in resolving disputes over classifications and prioritizations. (Some organizations use the Executive Committee for issue resolution).

Ensure that the Change Authorities who are representing changes to the CAB are well-informed and can speak to their items when challenged. Their role is to present the business case, the impact analysis, the resource plan and execution plan for each change.

The CAB is not just an IT operation. A successful CAB will have a wide rotating mix of participants from the IT, Operations and Business groups. Embrace the flexibility that the CAB offers by limiting the standing participants and ensuring only those resources that can add value to the discussions are invited to the meetings.


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