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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.

Does anyone recall the days when a developer or server support techo grappled with a non-user-friendly change management tool to rush through a late change request, chasing change approvers in a "Friday afternoon rush" to beat the Change cut-off? Verbose implementation plans, UAT and back-out plans that were comensurate with the size and complexity of the change generlly sufficed to "fool" the smart checks of the change tool as well as the sanity checks of the Change Analyst.

Hopefully, times have changed in most organisations where total ownership and involvement of staff in the success of changes is engendered across all teams, in the same manner we involve them in Continuous Improvement.. If this is not apparent, and change implementation outcomes are not totally successful 99.99% of the time - then the Change Management system and the IT Change Manager have some great opportunities and challenges to improve the success rate.

Widespread consultation, surveys and evaluation of feedback are key starting points for understanding change process complexity, risks and impact costs due to change failure as well as ill-conceived implementation windows.

Providing training in the value of regimented Change Control practices, along with constant communication across all areas, staff and stakeholders involved in change is also vital to Change Management improvement initiatives. The following diagram gives a typical example of areas that are involved, or impacted by changes.

Note that external suppiers, contractors and customers are also included.

These days, there is no shortage of sound and practical guidance and methodology on IT Change processes, roles and responsibilities. They are covered well in the Service Transition phase of ITIL V3, and there a also numerous online training resources (many free).

The following diagram attempts to capture the many activities, roles and responsibilities in a medium to large IT organisation, and allows us to build a baseline Job profile and description for the critical IT Change Manager Role. (never to be confused with an Organisation Change Manager). We've also split the Change Cycle into foour sections, and mapped these to the four stages of the well know P-D-C-A Continuous Improvement cycle.

Whilst many may feel this map is too complex  for a Small Business, possibly with only a few technical staff in the IT Operations team, it would be very wise to consider and work through the same processes and practices.  Afterall, the cost of failed changes in a small establishment tend to be proportionately more painful.

Our process map will be catalogued as a baseline edition, and we welcome all feedback and member comments, to be considered in further reviews.

View Kenneth Darwin's LinkedIn profileView Kendar's profile

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