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Change Control vs. Change Management: Moving Beyond IT

Mar 14, 2005

ITSM Watch Staff

By Edward Stickel

The Benefits
We have seen the problems with a poorly implemented or inadequately designed process to handle change. So what are some of the positive organizational benefits of instituting and developing a mature change management process? They include:

  • Improved overall visibility into and communication of changes across a distributed enterprise
  • Assurance that only changes that provide true business benefit are approved
  • Assurance that all proposed changes are scheduled based on business priority, infrastructure impact and service risk
  • Improved ability to smoothly regress to a previous state in the event of change failure or unanticipated results
  • Time to implement changes is reduced
  • Disruptions to ongoing service provision are minimized
On Implementing Change Management
Of course, the increased scope and depth of true change management means that there are problems, complications, and issues that must be addressed when introducing the process into an organization. These include:
  • The scope of change is too wide for the resources available, taxing the abilities of current staff, creating implementation delays
  • Ownership of impacted systems is unclear, resulting incomplete assessments
  • When Change Management is implemented without Configuration Management the solution will be much less effective
  • The defined process is too bureaucratic inviting excuses for lack of compliance
  • Inaccurate configuration data may result in poor impact assessments, and lead to the wrong people being consulted about the advisability of change
  • Poor synchronization of upgrades across multiple platforms and locations make changes difficult or impossible to schedule
  • Defined back-out procedures are missing or untested
  • Advancing change requests through review/approval is manually intensive and time consuming; it is advisable to start with a small database or automated tool
  • Lack of backing from senior and middle managers will encourage delays and lengthen implementation times; staff will resist controls that they would prefer to avoid unless they can see a commitment from their managers
  • The process frequently fails when urgent or emergency changes are required 2
Some simple ways to mitigate these problems include:
  • Ensure that each change follows the complete procedure
  • Communicate with all IT personnel and all outside providers to ensure that they accept Change Management, and do not try to implement changes without coordination
  • Ensure that all changes are being actively evaluated
  • Work with Configuration Management to ensure that CI changes are entered in the CMDB
Edward Stickel has 25 years of experience in strategic management consulting, and has played a key role in SEI Information Technology's delivery of large-scale business systems based on best practices. He is a veteran project manager with extensive experience in conducting in-depth business analyses, as well as facilitating change management and process re-engineering.

1 IT Organization; Buliding A Worldclass Infrastructure, Harris Kern, Prentice Hall 2000

2 IT Service Management; A Companion to the IT Infrastructure Library, Ivor Macfarlane & Colin Rudd, itSMF Ltd. 2001