This is the first post of a series where we do the tutorial and some deep-dive of an ITIL-based change management (CHM) process design. In the next few posts, we will go over some of the process design considerations such as the goal/purpose; the intended scope; roles and responsibilities; RFC categorization and prioritization; scheduling; integration; and metrics and measurements. Towards the end, we will examine how all these planning considerations come to together as we design the example process flow.
Goal and Purpose of Change Management
When designing an ITSM process such as change management, one of the most fundamental questions to ask is why your organization needs a formalized process. By ITIL’s definition, the intention behind the change management process is to control the lifecycle of all changes. By exercising proper control over the changes, we put ourselves in a better position to benefit from the changes and to minimize any potential disruptions to our IT environment. Do most organizations need a formalized change management process for their IT environments? I believe so because changes are a part of our complex IT and business environments. There are a number of reasons and objectives for an organization to implement a well-organized change management process. Some of those reasons include
- Accommodate changes but not at the expense of system or application availability
- Identify and categorize changes that may have different approval workflow or implementation lead time
- Determine a better approach of assessing the levels of risk and the potential impact
- Ensure that request for change (RFC) is properly evaluated for technical merit and balanced with the business needs
Depending on your organization’s intent or requirement, it is important to determine your objectives and fully answer the question of “why.” For many organizations, having a well-thought-out and documented change management process can help reduce the risks brought on by poorly planned changes. That, in turn, can go far in strengthening the IT organization’s ability to deliver timely and useful technology services that meet the needs of business.
Scope and Policy Implications
In defining your change management process, it will be useful to define a few scope or policy related items upfront. Some of my thoughts are:
- To what organizational boundaries will the CHM process be applicable? Who should initiate, review, and/or authorize the CHM activities? Like implementing most ITSM processes, the benefits will be more far-reaching and visible when everyone is adopting the unified approach and vocabulary. Consider just how connected many business systems are these days in order to support the business processes or services, it will be important to understand and determine scope boundaries of the CHM process beforehand.
- What activities constitute changes and will all changes receive the CHM treatment? Fundamentally, I believe all alterations to the enterprise-wide computing environment should be treated as changes, and those changes should be handled, in some fashion, by the CHM process. Depending on the technical nature and business implication of the change, some organizations may require different levels of review or scrutiny for different categories of change. To have an effective CHM process, all changes should be identified, addressed, and documented by the process in some ways.
Roles & Responsibilities
A change management process can involve a number of participants. Here are some typical roles to be factored into the design.
- Requester: Who can initiate a RFC? How will the requester participate in the overall CHM process?
- Change Management Process Owner: The process owner makes sure that the process is defined, documented, maintained, and communicated at all levels within the organization. The process owner is not necessarily the one doing the actual work, but the process ownership comes with the accountability of ensuring a certain level of quality for the process execution. The process owner also drives the continuous improvement activities for the CHM process.
- Change Manager: The change manager is the main actor in the CHM process and has the most visible role within the CHM process. The change manager ensures all RFCs receive the proper handling and review by chairing the Change Advisory Board (CAB). As an outcome of the CAB meeting, the change manager publishes and communicates schedule of changes. The change manager is also responsible for reporting the metrics to the process owner for quality assurance and continual improvement purposes.
- Change Implementer: The change implementer role is often played by the subject matter experts who perform the implementation work. After the change is executed, the change implementer also reports the outcome of change to the change manager for documentation and further actions.
- Stakeholder: There could be several different types of stakeholders involved in CHM process. The stakeholders should be identified as members of the CAB or for RFC approval purposes. Ideally, the CHM process could use at least one executive-level stakeholder who can act in a governing or mediation capacity when conflicts arise.
We will discuss additional topics such as RFC categorization and prioritization; scheduling; integration; and metrics and measurements on the subsequent posts. Stay tuned, and I welcome your feedback.