Change management (ITSM)
Change management is an IT service management discipline. The objective of change management in this context is to ensure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt handling of all changes to control IT infrastructure, in order to minimize the number and impact of any related incidents upon service. Changes in the IT infrastructure may arise reactively in response to problems or externally imposed requirements, e.g. legislative changes, or proactively from seeking improved efficiency and effectiveness or to enable or reflect business initiatives, or from programs, projects or service improvement initiatives. Change Management can ensure standardized methods, processes and procedures which are used for all changes, facilitate efficient and prompt handling of all changes, and maintain the proper balance between the need for change and the potential detrimental impact of changes.
Information Technology Infrastructure Library
Change Management within ITSM (as opposed to software engineering or project management) is often associated with ITIL, but the origins of change as an IT management process predate ITIL considerably, at least according to the IBM publication A Management System for the Information Business.
In the ITIL framework, Change Management is a part of "Service Transition" - transitioning something newly developed (i.e. an update to an existing production environment or deploying something entirely new) from the Service Design phase into Service Operation (AKA Business As Usual) and aims to ensure that standardised methods and procedures are used for efficient handling of all changes.
Change Management is a process used for managing the planned deployment of alterations to all configuration items in the configuration management database (or "CIs" in the CMDB), that are a part of a business's live ("production") and test ("UAT") environments along with any other environment that a business wants to have under Change Management - generally all environments that are under the control of 'ICT Operations'. It is not typically responsible for change within development environments (see below)..
A change is an event that is:
- approved by management
- implemented with a minimized and accepted risk to existing IT infrastructure
- results in a new status of one or more configuration items (CIs)
- provides increased value to the business (Increased Revenue, Avoided Cost, or Improved Service) from the use of the new or enhanced IT systems.
Change management in development projects
ITSM change management is not typically responsible for overseeing changes that occur within deployment or development projects which are typically delegated to a change management process dictated by the project management methodology adopted for the project. However, close liaison between development project managers and the Change Manager is expected and the project manager may be required to utilize Change Management for items within the production or test environments that are required for testing or release.
Change management would typically be composed of the raising and recording of changes, assessing the impact, cost, benefit and risk of proposed changes, developing business justification and obtaining approval, managing and co-ordinating change implementation, monitoring and reporting on implementation, reviewing and closing change requests.
ITIL defines the change management process this way:
- The goal of the change management process is to ensure that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt handling of all changes, in order to minimize the impact of change-related incidents upon service quality, and consequently improve the day-to-day operations of the organization.
ISO 20000 defines the objective of change management (part 1, 9.2) as:
- To ensure all changes are assessed, approved, implemented and reviewed in a controlled manner.
Change management is responsible for managing change process involving:
- Communications equipment and software
- System software
- All documentation and procedures associated with the running, support and maintenance of live systems.
Any proposed change must be approved in the change management process. While change management makes the process happen, the decision authority is the Change Advisory Board (CAB), which generally is composed of people from other functions within the organization. The main activities of the change management are:
- Filtering changes
- Managing changes and the change process
- Chairing the CAB and the CAB/Emergency committee
- Reviewing and closing of Requests for Change (RFCs)
- Management reporting and providing management information
The ITIL concept of change management includes developing business justification. This is a broadening of scope from other concepts of change management, and overlaps into the concerns of IT portfolio management and those areas covered by the initiation phases within programme management and project management.
For example, the IBM "Yellow Book" conception of change control (as a subset of resource control) was strictly concerned with the transfer of deliverables from projects into production. Similarly, Schiesser in IT Systems Management defines Change Management as "a process to control and coordinate all changes to an IT production environment."