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Top Ten Tips for ITIL Change Management

Dec 5, 2007

Roy Morrison

5. Create standardized processes and timeframes to support Change Management. Defining processes and timeframes up front around Major, Minor and Emergency changes will assist in managing client expectations as to when, and how, changes will be delivered.

Getting the senior members of the Change Advisory Board (CAB) to sign off on the criteria is essential to reducing the noise level.

Define the boundaries around priorities and hold to them. By having standard change processes understood, there will be fewer circumventions of the system.

If your Change Management scope is significant, and incorporates IMAC’s as suggested above, there needs to be a means of expediting the process to overcome the bureaucracy that may prevail. Designing and implementing a standard change model for those changes where the risk level is already well understood, allows for such expediency.

6. Establish and Stabilize the Change Management Process before introducing tools. In theory, it seems logical to buy a tool that can guide your change management implementation and utilize it as a key component of your change program. In practice, this approach is rarely effective. Introducing new processes, making them more efficient and finalizing them will lay the groundwork for defining the requirements for a tool selection. You can then better evaluate a tool fit for your purposes instead of getting lost in the various options that most tools present.

7. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and Critical Success Factors (CSF) that highlight the improvements that Change Management brings to the organization. Bring metrics to Senior Management’s attention on a regular basis showing how CM is benefiting the organization.

  • Sample CSF’s should reflect that CM is:
  • A repeatable process that can make changes quickly and accurately
  • Protecting the integrity of the service when making those changes
  • Delivering process efficiency and effectiveness
  • Sample KPI’s should be established around:
  • Reduction of unauthorized changes
  • Reduction in change related outages
  • Reduction in emergency changes
  • Actual cost of a change vs. planned (budgeted) cost
  • 8. Ensure back-out plans are documented and realistic. Although no one ever intentionally introduces defects into the production environment, it is a fact of life that problems will sometimes arise as a result of new submissions. To combat these instances, there must be a robust contingency plan in place to minimize the amount and length of production outages. Ensuring that the Release Management team comes prepared to the CAB with both their implementation plan and back-out strategy is an essential check-point for the Change Manager.

    9. Accentuate the positive by building on successes and leveraging lessons learned. Discussing lessons learned, whether good or bad, is important for everyone involved to better prepare for the next instance.

    While it is important to correct bad behaviors after a release, it is just as important to highlight what went well. Showcase success stories and integrate lessons learned into plans for further roll-outs.

    10. Use the Change Management Initiative to promote other ITIL processes. Many organizations are only familiar with the Change Management component of ITIL.

    · Use the success story from implementing Change Management to promote the benefits of the other processes and how it will improve the overall performance of IT. Change Management cannot be truly effective in isolation.

    · When Release and Configuration Management processes are absent, consider combining all three into a centralized function. The three processes have many close links to each other and together can stabilize an organization’s production environment.

    In summary, implementing Change Management is and should be viewed as a major strategic undertaking. It is much more than a simple process roll-out. As a starting point, organizations need to know where they stand in terms of ITIL maturity, where gaps exist, and where they want to be.

    Any ITIL implementation is a major change program that warrants a roadmap, a realistic project plan and associated communications to achieve the desired outcomes. It also requires training of the support organization as well as the users receiving the service on new processes and procedures. Piloting the new processes or performing dry runs will furthermore ensure smooth transition and higher effectiveness.

    Using items such as these Top Ten Tips to aid understanding throughout the support organization is a good starting point for design and deployment of an ITIL-based Change Management Process. In the end, implementing change management is a key step in establishing the stability you need to make your other ITIL processes and your organization more successful.

    Roy Morrison, a consultant in PA Consulting Group’s IT Consulting practice, has more than 20 years of experience in Sourcing and Service Management. He is also ITIL Foundation Certified and serves a specialist in Change Management and Release Management, which he has successfully implemented on a global basis. The author would like to thank Doug McMahon, Alan Houghton, Michael Latchford, and Glen Willis for their contributions to this article.