Treat all Changes like Projects

Whether you are in a small business or large organisation, the principle of Change Management is the same - If you want to get it right every time and save heaps of money, then you must treat every Change Management exercise as rigorously as a project.

In our article on Get Change Management Right , we discussed the close alignment of Change and Project Management practices and methods. The Release Management phase of a Project is itself an exercise in Change Management. Planning, Review, Communications, Logistics, Collaboration, Documentation and Approvals are all crucial components of both a well-managed Project or a Change.

In our QH Management Information System model, we've plonked our Change Management records into the Project Management database, rather than create separate tables.

Roll Your Own Management Information System

When it comes to getting serious with IT Service Management, then we need more sophisticated tools than can be built with Drupal alone. It's time to store the basic Project, Tasks and Issues registers in the back shed (along with the typewriters and bundy clocks), and roll out our new Management Information System. But hang on, we don't have a budget for a decent MIS covering the scope of ITSM areas and functions.

We've looked at some Drupal modules and Open Source tools for bug tracking and project management. Whilst there are a number of decent tools that work well, we haven't found any comprehensive, integrated tools that are scoped across the IT organisation's development and support loop. Well, there are quite a few, but they will cost you a bucket.

One of our objectives here at QualityHelp is to slice open and expose our tools and infrastructure, so we can see and understand the components and methods. That's what Process Management is all about.

Whilst many small businesses on shoe-string budgets build electronic record systems in MS Excel, there is a limit to the capability of this very useful tool.  Microsoft Access provides a greater level of functionallity and control over a wide range of data tables and functions, with greater easer than Excel.

Merge Quality Assurance and Document Management Teams

Larger IT companies provide a number of services and functions within the Document Management team, including technical writing, catalogue / document / record management, document control and reporting. The large numbers of documents and records managed, along with the high demand for technical writing and document support usually justifiies a separate, specialist team.

In mid-size to small business there is a strong argument to combine the functions (and teams / staff) based on the overlapping functions and processes in the Document Lifecycle. A well-disciplined lifecycle for document management should be completely in tuned with a company's policies and standards for achieving Quality Assurance objectives. Hence Document Control practices should be aligned with whatever Internal Audits processes or assessments are in place to ensure compliance to agreed standards (for both the Quality Management System and Documentation Standards).

Creating Restricted Catalogue Zones

We started a series of recent articles on integrating a Document Catalogue with Document Control.  Our Catalogue model might look simplistic, but Drupal provides a number of modules and methods to extend the functionality to cover the needs of most small to medium businesses. In the real world, public access to most of the Catalogue would be severely limited.  Ours is open for the purposes of training and discussion. But how would we restrict access to documents with Drupal?  How could we customize the Catalogue to limit access to documents, and even sub-catalogues based on user profiles?

One solution lies with the Drupal Content Access module, which provides methods for restricting user access to certain types of Drupal Content, based on content specific or user type rules.

Migrating a Site Index to the DCS Catalogue

With our new document control system in place, the best way to demonstrate its use and versatility is to populate the catalogue for practical purposes.  Note that the DCS and Catalogue are intended to be a working, training model, and may  be adapted in other ways with more rigorous requirements in other working situations.

As mentioned in our March Newsletter, we intend to systematically migrate existing site documents from the current registers and indexes into the new catalogue format.  For this discussion, we will register all our NewsCorner objects into a single catalogue.  These currently are listed (rather feebly) in an index table under our Publications Menu.

Get Change Management Right and Downsize the Problem Management Team

Within IT Operations, the two most critical functions for ensuring consistent, stable and quality services and products are Change Management, followed by Project Management.  If you were thinking Quality Management then you've missed the basic concepts of quality.  Neither your company nor your customers (internal and external) want to pay for quality controls and inspections, internal audits, problem management teams or helpdesk staff dedicated to customer complaints and incident management. You can't fool the customer, and delude yourself if you claim that these costs are absorbed internally.

Defective products result from ineffective design, development and projects.  Release Management and Change Control are the gate keepers that are ultimately accountable for the quality of products and services reaching the end user. If you perfect these functions, you will then start to modify your strategies for product design, development and project management.

Do the cost analysis of achieving excellence in design and development versus reactive service management, then reap the rewards with market and customer trust and respect.

 

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