Understanding ITIL Change Management

Notes from a great talk on the do’s and don’ts of Change Management, specifically related to ITIL.

Key take-aways from this IDC Report from 2014:

  • the average cost of an infrastructure failure is $100,000 per hour.
  • 80% of failures are due to custom adjustments of current tools to meet DevOps practices – meaning: a breakdown of process, or lack of process (incorrect SOPs or human errors), causes these types of failures

Change Management is about coordinating/collaborating resources, especially people, across an organization and preparing them for a change that’s about to happen. Ensuring the people are ready, the technology is ready, and the process is ready so that it can be effective and efficient as it moves into production.

There is risk involved with Change Management. If a change fails, it can deteriorate the business. There is knowledge required for Change Management. The stakeholders need to be prepared with the right knowledge of what to expect.

With that in mind, Why is Change Management important?

  1. Operational Excellence
    It is simple to focus on doing a lot of things instead of the right things. Change Management helps keep focus on the business strategy and doing the right things.
  2. Management of Risk
    Managing Change ultimately is managing risk. Changes get thrown into the mix constantly, but if it doesn’t add business value, is it the right thing? It could be a major risk to the organization, to the financial resources, and to the customers perspective.
  3. Overall Strategy Support
    Change Managers maintain focus on keeping the business moving towards its goal.

The 8 Do’s and Don’ts of Change Management

Do Coordinate and Collaborate across the organization

Make sure all stakeholders, customers, users, and the business are aware of the change – communication is key.

Don’t overlook the role of people

People are the key. It is human nature to not like change, but as a Change Manager we need to help individuals become not just compliant, but compassionate. When people really believe in the change, they buy in and they do the right thing.

Do know your inventory

Understand your resources and their capability. Be familiar with your Configuration Management Database (CMDB), Configuration Management System (CMS), and the Service Knowledge Management Systems (SKMS). These should follow a service model (how services are delivered) underpinned by your services, infrastructure, people and capabilities. This knowledge allows the Change Manager to foresee problems and how the change in one area might affect other areas.

Don’t introduce too much change at once

There’s a rhythm to change. Too much change will cause “red flag” syndrome where the changes become ignored. The Change Manager needs to understand where the business and the customers are at and find that balanced rhythm.

Do communicate to those who need to know about the change

The Forward Schedule of Changes (FSC) is the document used to communicate change plans to the organization. Use this to: Track the list of approved changes and the proposed implementation dates. Provide visibility to key stakeholders on the status of changes being introduced in the production environment. Nothing is worse than having something change when you didn’t know anything about it. This causes incidents and distrust. Individuals will start ‘looking’ for negative aspects and things begin to be disrupted.

Don’t think about change in a silo

A change, no matter the size, can have domino effects. Therefore, any change is an organizational change and needs to be communicated in a way that anyone in the organization can see the value and its alignment with the vision.

Do approach change management from a Service-Oriented perspective

Look at the service and how it affects your customers and the relationships within the organization.

Don’t pick technology that doesn’t support a holistic perspective

This is in alignment with the “Do” from above – sometimes processes are inter-related. Make sure the technology takes the organization as a whole into account. You don’t want to change the tech in one area and it ends up causing an entire division to no longer be able to communicate strategic information. Remember from the IDC report – customization of tools accounts for 80% of failures.

Change Management affects everything in an organization.

In summary, the 8 Do’s and Don’ts of Change Management can be quickly navigated by this excellent list of the 7 R’s of Change Management: For proper impact assessment and understanding of benefits to risk, these seven questions should be asked.

  • Who RAISED the change?
  • What is the REASON for the change?
  • What is the RETURN required from the change?
  • What are the RISKS involved in the change?
  • What RESOURCES are required to deliver the change?
  • Who is RESPONSIBLE for the build, test and implementation of the change?
  • What is the RELATIONSHIP between this change and other changes?

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