What is ITIL Change Management process?
The ITIL Change Management process is designed to help control the life cycle of strategic, tactical, and operational changes to IT services through standardized procedures. The goal of Change Management is to control risk and minimize disruption to associated IT services and business operations.
Note: Organizational Change Management (OCM) is sometimes confused with Change Management. However, OCM deals with the impact new processes and changes in organization structure have of people. OCM and Change Management work together because organizational structure influences behavior of people and process.
The Goal of ITIL Change Management process
The goal of Change Management is to establish standard procedures for managing change requests in an agile and efficient manner in an effort to drastically minimize the risk and impact a change can have on business operations.
Benefits of ITIL Change Management process
While no best practice, framework or methodology can assure 100% success, Change Management can help manage risk and safeguard the IT services you deliver and support against unnecessary errors. Maintaining reliable business systems is essential for the survival of any organization in today’s competitive market space. Adjustments to any element within the IT infrastructure can disrupt service value and negatively impact productivity. Structured and planned change helps to minimize the potential risk that comes with infrastructure changes. At the same time a well-structured and planned Change Management process comes with significant business benefits.
Some of the benefits that result from ITIL Change Management process include:
- Improved IT to business alignment
- Decreased adverse impact on business operations
- Improved visibility into IT change
- Prioritized responsiveness to change
- Adherence to government and other compliance regulations
- Improved risk management
- Reduced service disruptions and system downtime
- Increased staff productivity
- Faster change implementation
Definition of a “Change”
According to ITIL, a Change is “the addition, modification or removal of any authorized, planned, or supported service or service component that could have an effect on IT services.” Most often, a change is an event that has been approved by the change authority, is evaluated and implemented while minimizing risk, adjusts the status of a configuration item (CI), and adds value to the business and its customers.
Changes can be brought about in two ways:
1) Change Request or Request for Change (RFC)
A change request is a formal proposal that can be submitted by a stakeholder in the organization or by a service user via the service desk, utilizing the request fulfillment process to alter a configuration item.
2) Change Proposal
A change proposal is a high-level description of a potential service introduction or significant change and includes the business case and implementation schedule. These proposals are normally created by the service portfolio management process in Service Strategy and are passed to the change management process.
**A service request that is normally handled by the service desk can be a change request. A service request can be a change request if the change affects an IT Service with an addition, modification, or retirement of components or configuration items of the IT service. Service requests are fulfilled using the service desk’s request fulfillment process and do involve the change management processes (and potentially the supplier management process). Many service requests are standard changes.
The Role of Change Management within Service Transition
Change Management is a critical process within the Service Transition publication, part of ITIL’s Service Management best practice framework that includes guidance for building, deploying, and transitioning new or changed IT services into operation. Guidance is also given on how to retire services. The objective of Service Transition in the IT process lifecycle is to plan and manage changes to IT services, while minimizing risk and improving decision support to users and the business.
ITIL Service Transition processes include:
- Change Management
- Service Asset and Configuration Management
- Release and Deployment Management
- Knowledge Management
- Service Validation and Testing
- Change Evaluation
- Transition Planning and Support
Types of IT changes
There are different types of change requests, or change classes, that are typically managed in different ways:
- Standard changes are changes to a service or to the IT infrastructure where the implementation process and the risks are known upfront. These changes are managed according to policies that are the IT organization already has in place. Since these changes are subject to established policies and procedures, they are the easiest to prioritize and implement, and often don’t require approval from a risk management perspective.
- Normal changes are those that must go through the change process before being approved and implemented. If they are determined to be high-risk, a change advisory board must decide whether they will be implemented.
- Emergency changes arise when an unexpected error or threat occurs, such as when a flaw in the infrastructure related to services needs to be addressed immediately. A security threat is another example of an emergency situation that requires changes to be made immediately.
IT change management process procedures
The IT change management process typically consists of different procedures:
- Request for change review: Change coordinators use this procedure when they are dealing with requests for change.
- Change planning: Change coordinators and specialists employ this process to prepare the implementation plans for changes.
- Change approval: The change manager and approvers (e.g., customer representatives and service owners) follow this procedure to approve planned changes.
- Change implementation: Specialists use this process to implement infrastructure changes.
- Change closure: Specialists follow this procedure when they perform production tests after changes have been implemented, and change coordinators employ it when they close out changes.
These procedures vary slightly for different types of IT changes and risk levels.
Wherever possible, IT organizations should standardize and automate the way that they process requests.
Change Management Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Each ITIL process should be measured for success in reducing costs, increasing service value including availability and reliability. Identifying service consumerization trends, measuring the impact of changes and demonstrating a reduction in business disruptions due to change are important improvements that help link Change Management results to business goals.
Important Change Management KPIs and metrics for the Change Management process include:
- Improvement in service marketability
- Number of successful changes implemented
- Reduction in the number of service disruptions
- Reduction in unauthorized changes
- Decrease in change request backlog
- Incidents associated with changes
- Average time to implement a change
- Change success rate
- Number of disruptions (Incidents, Problems) caused by failed changes
- Frequency and Volume of change
- Ratio of planned vs. unplanned changes