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Computing the Change Success Rate

Apr 24, 2008

George Spafford

We must understand the total number of changes taking place in the environment. For most organizations I work with, the total number of changes dramatically exceeds requests for changes submitted via the change management process; especially at the outset of implementing the process.

There are many reasons that people may choose to bypass the process and not report changes but these changes all represent risks to the organization. By failing to account for them in the “total changes” metric we then do not accurately reflect the volume of changes taking place and the CSR metric can not be relied upon.

To capture the total number of changes the following is required:

  • The systems in scope must be clear and formally documented.
  • What is critical to monitor on each system must be formally documented.
  • A change detection tool must be used to capture all changes both accurately and timely. While manual detection is theoretically possible, automation is essential to do this every eight hours at least and because it requires tedious detailed analysis, the possibility for human error is high.

    In summary, the change success rate is a deceptively easy ratio to draw on a white board during a meeting and then program in a report writer. The details underpinning the numerator and denominator require thoughtful consideration, communication to stakeholders and consistent execution.

    No single metric can reflect the health of a process and the CSR metric is no exception. When correctly designed and implemented, the CSR will give us an important perspective into the health of change management, which can then be combined with other metrics to influence employee behavior and give management needed information to make decisions.

    George Spafford is a principal consultant with Pepperweed Consulting and a long-time IT professional. George's professional focus is on compliance, security, management and overall process improvement.