“It is not the strongest species that survives nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” Charles Darwin
The goal of the IT change management process is to ensure that changes are implemented in a controlled fashion by establishing standardised methods and procedures. Every change has cost and impact.
Change design and implementation focusses to maximise value and minimise the impact of change-related incidents. This is done through a formal process of recording, assessing, authorising and scheduling with comprehensive communications around all changes. Change management also aims to rapidly adapt to the organisation’s change requirements and improve the change cycle time.
Like many other management practices, change management is a method IT has adopted from other disciplines. It has been there from time immemorial. None among the seven wonders of ancient world could have been realised that without change management methods were applied on several occasions during their creation.
In Wikipedia change management is defined as ‘an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organisations to a desired future state’. ISACA, ITIL, PMBOK and PRINCE2 are among the major frameworks that provides guidance on managing changes.
ISACA’s COBIT is an overarching frame-work and its following processes under ‘build, acquire & implement (BAI)’ domain addresses the change management process:
- BAI05 Manage Organisational Change Enablement;
- BA06 Manage Changes;
- BA07 Manage Change Acceptance and Transitioning.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) has been successful in achieving a great level of standardisation of processes via its promotion of a common language and by providing a frame-work to manage information technology processes including IT change management.
Building the process
Strong management commitment, clear documented process and good discipline contribute to the success of change management. The following are some guidelines to develop the process.
- Use the COBIT framework as a guideline to develop change management policy;
- Cleary define the scope of change management domain;
- Define roles and responsibilities;
- Use ITIL framework to define change management process;
- Define the change management process aligning to the organisational environment;
- Define a mechanism to measure, monitor and improve the process.
The following diagram shows high level stages of the IT change management process.
There may be many sub processes, work-flows and activities under each stage based upon the scope and complexity of the change in hand.
As per ITIL there are three type of changes:-
- Normal change;
- Emergency change;
- Standard change.
All the three type of changes do not have to follow the same stages and process steps. While the normal change requires all the steps to be covered, the standard change requires only a few steps to be covered as illustrated below.
*Limited Approval. Level of approval less than that required for normal changes. It is common to have an Emergency CAB with less members than full CAB which is authorised to approve emergency change.
Many changes are repetitive in nature and a learning organisation masters implementing those changes over a period of time. Such routine changes may not have to go through all stages or the same level of robust change control processes as required for a normal change.
For example, engaging in impact assessment and stakeholder analysis from scratch for the same scenario every occasion will end in bringing the same result - it is not a good idea to repeat the same work to bring the same result that is already in hand. Instead organisations should continually learn from their experiences, develop reusable models and enhance their capabilities and maturity.
Standard change is a change which follows an established path where the risks are low, costs and efforts are known: are fairly repetitive in nature and are pre-approved by the change management process.
Characteristics of Standard Change
Standard change model
Change model is a repeatable way of dealing with a particular category of change. Organisations shall scan changes which meet the criteria of standard changes and prepare a change model.
The change model documents all relevant information required to build and implement the change. It lists all the activities involved in the change implementation, ordered in a sequential manner. This may include process diagrams, list of activities, work breakdown structure, assignments and lots more relevant information.
The change model is submitted for the approval of the Change Advisor Board (CAB). CAB reviews the change model and, if satisfied, approves the model. Then it becomes a standard change or pre-approved change. This helps not to miss any activity involved in the change, creates a robust re-usable and consistent process model and institutionalises the process in the routine operation.
A template for introducing a standard change may be developed in order to capture criteria, category, scope, cost, efforts, sequence of activities etc. of the candidate for standard change.
Below are some of the benefits of implementing standard changes.
- reduces bureaucracy around the change management without compromising control;
- improves change cycle time;
- reduces the load on the Change Advisory Board (CAB);
- establishes a consistent process for building and implementing change;
- institutionalises the process in to an organisation’s normal operations.
In order to ensure compliance to the change management process, a periodic compliance audit may be done on a certain number of standard changes, selected randomly.
Any change in the environment or components of the pre-approved changes can lead to a requirement to alter the change model or it may disqualify itself from being treated as a pre-approved change. Such scenarios should be treated as a change by raising a request for change (RFC) and be controlled through a normal change process.