Support a change effectively while minimizing associated risks (incidents, problems and change requests resulting from the change), here is the goal sought by IT service management professionals. Whether it is for the management of a hardware, equipment, software or applications, the change management process is a basic concept that requires ITIL® defined roles and responsibilities, methods and standardized procedures.
Well-managed change management also brings many benefits.
Appropriate management of this process allows, in particular, greater internal efficiency, reduction of associated risks and better alignment with business units requirements.
A change request can come from:
- An anomaly that has been corrected.
- An improvement of an application requested by a user.
- A change in the underlying structure or within the standards.
- An event in the development of other applications
That said, here are the challenges and the most significant risks in each steps in making a change request. Ultimately, this can help you improve your process and avoid some pitfalls.
1. Sufficiently document your Request for Change or RFC
To be able to properly start a change request, it is essential to know and gather all the necessary information. Otherwise, the next steps for the estimation or the assessment will not be accurate enough. So here is where we find the greatest challenge of the change management, the assessment. Indeed, your customer expects that you do not exceed the costs or the expected time to implement the change. That is why it is important to provide the customer with a complete form in order for the customer to collect all of the essential information.
To do this, we can rely on the 7 “R” of the Request for Change Management :
2. Correctly evaluate the effort of a change
As previously mentioned, this step is crucial in the management of your change. This analysis will plan the project which constitutes a change request. This needs to consider all the factors that can influence the start of the production of your change. With these details, you will be asked to make an estimate of the effort required for the implementation of this change request. This step can be critical as this defines the needs’ requirements and create customer expectations. An estimate or assessment of a request for change should understand and document the :
- Means to achieve the change
- Each of the stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities
3. Identify and analyze the impacts of the change
Impacts should essentially be analyzed before implementation of a change. The challenge is to clearly identify the risks and impacts of your request for change since they will make the project a success or a failure. To do this, we will use the information provided in the original application and identify risks at the following level :
- Customers, infrastructure and customer service
- Consequences if we do not implementing this change
- Resources required for this implementation
- The implementation schedule and the interruption of service
Subsequently, it is possible to categorize the various risks using a simple matrix that take into account impact and probability. This allows us to question the advantage of this change in comparison to excessive risks. This brings us to justify the risks versus the benefits that come with the change.
4. Implementing the Request for Change in a structured way
There are also several challenges in the implementation of a change request, such as the approval stage. As a change manager, if your change management has put in place all the necessary communications to inform and educate people affected by the new change and you followed a standard method recognized by your organization, you should successfully complete the adopting a new solution. However, an Advisory Committee of Changes (Change Advisory Board or CAB) is called to make a decision either to approve or not to approve the change.
To promote the approval of a change, it is advisable to follow these specified tasks:
- Build the change
- Provide a pre-test change
- Develop a comprehensive plan for the change deployment
- Implement the change
- Make IT post implementation infrastructure testing
5. Provide a post-implementation monitoring
This process is performed after the beginning of production to test and verify the change. This is to identify, troubleshoot and determine whether to move forward with the plan or rollback. At this stage, it is very important to identify lessons learned and benefit from them for future implementations.
The following will be included in your analysis:
- Verification of the change implementation
- Post-implantation of the application.
- Troubleshooting, if possible.
- Decision on whether to initiate a rollback plan.
- Analysis of all problems or any of the complications
In short, change management includes many challenges at each stage of the implementation. It is important to stay alert and establish a realistic and effective strategy for the development of any new features.