With the devastating impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that all organisations have had to do is adapt to the current conditions and anticipate similar occurrences in future. Majority of organisations have a documented process and procedures to support Change Management. However, how to manage changes across the organisation is no small feat.
In the recent past, many organizations have embraced working from home and most rushed to procure infrastructure to support working from home without mapping out the effects of the new infrastructure on their current organisation context with devastating effects such as downtime, security exposures and reputational damage.
IT Change management is discussed extensively in best practice standards such as ITIL and ISO 20000 and is needed as a core element to ensure changes across the IT service management lifecycle are controlled.
What is an IT Change?
An IT Change is an event that results in a new status of one or more configuration items (CIs) and which has an impact on the current way of doing business. It is the addition, modification or removal of anything that could influence IT services.
The purpose of the IT Change Management process is to control the life cycle of all changes, enabling beneficial changes to be made with minimum disruption to IT services.
Objectives of ITSM change management are to:
- Respond to the changing business requirements while maximising value and reducing incidents and re-work.
- Respond to Request for Changes that will align services with business needs
- Ensure that changes are recorded and evaluated, and that authorised changes are managed in a controlled manner.
- Reduce the number and intensity of incidents, disruptions and re-works.
- Optimise overall business risk.
Types of Changes
- Normal Change: They are non-trivial changes made to the services, processes, and infrastructure.
- Standard Change: This is a type of change that occurs frequently, poses a very low risk and follows standard procedures which are pre-established for completing the tasks
- Major Change: This is a type of change which has the ability to pose a major risk. This type of change needs an in-depth proposal for financial approval and clearance from various levels of the management.
- Emergency Change: It is a type of change which needs to be implemented as soon as possible in order to resolve a major incident or issue
Note: It is essential that Emergency Changes are used sparingly. If most of the changes effected to your IT service management system are emergency changes not enough planning is being done and your environment is most likely chaotic and uncontrolled. A high percentage of emergency changes could also point to other issues such as a poorly implemented Change Management Process .
Change Management process- Life Cycle Activities:
For change management to be effective and produce desirable results, a change management process should be followed. The change management process is a five-stage process that involves ensuring all considerations are made and evaluated before a change is implemented on your IT environment.
- Request for changes can be created by a business unit or an individual
- Change Approvals: the right changes are made at the right time; each request needs to be evaluated and prioritized by the authority responsible for making changes. Change evaluation is done to assess the change impact and understand its benefits to the IT services and to avoid needless disruptions to business operations.
- Change Implementation, Validation & Testing: A change request is given to the release and deployment team who coordinate with the appropriate technical and management teams for building, testing and implementing the change.
- Reviewing and closing the change request: Once the change has been implemented, a Post Implementation Review (PIR) is conducted to confirm if the change has been implemented properly and whether it has successfully achieved all its objectives.
Roles that should be defined in IT Change Management Process
Effects of poor change Management
Changes are requested very frequently, and it is a challenge to implement a quality change management process which would make the handling of constant changes easier and avoid Service disruption/degradation. Poor change management will result in;
- Lack of rollback plan making the functionality become different after a change which was not planned and reviewed before implementation
- A poor executed change will have negative impact to services that are already in the managed environment.
- A change poorly implemented that does not deliver the intended result, may result to larger issues that must be addressed.
Key Steps that an Organization can take to Implement Change Management Process