Change Management Best Practices
Copyright AKAVEIL Technologies LLC all rights reserved
Written by D. Gowen
Prevention of Business Risks
Risk of what? Risk of your business not working properly. That might mean unhappy customers, loss of data, lack of customer retention, damaged reputation, under delivering on products and services and ultimately loss of revenue, loss of purpose and losing to your competitors. Wow! This is serious stuff.
Several years ago, Gartner (famous for its IT industry research) stated 87% of IT incidents were caused by IT changes. Incidents are abnormal conditions in the live service delivery environment.
By their very nature, incidents should be avoided and proactively eliminated. When planned changes are introduced into the live environment, the last thing your IT services team should produce are incidents.
The IT industry has fortunately matured over the past few decades. Unexpected negative impact from change is addressed through following sound industry best practices for change control, risk management, improved configuration data, knowledge sharing, testing practices and stakeholder management to name a few.
This will ensure a higher change success rate and minimize negative unintended effects of changes.
What are Changes?
A change is the addition, modification, or removal of anything that can impact an IT service. Whether hardware, network, security, software, cloud, database, internet, or any other technology associated with the live environment of service delivery these changes must be controlled for quality.
Changes that can impact the live environment may even be non-technical like new staff, training, documentation, tool enhancements and process improvements. Whether changes are tangible or intangible if any possible impact on service quality then best practices for change management are in order.
This will ensure the protection and quality of business operations that are dependent on IT services.
Change Management, Control and Enablement
All changes must have benefit and therefore all changes are improvements. By managing changes via a set of best practices and process, consistency of how changes are received, documented, assessed, discussed, prioritized, scheduled, and approved will promote quality results.
Smart IT service providers understand changes are managed from the customer / business perspective. Engagement with customers during the change process is an essential aspect of IT change management.
Business relationships with key customers is a fundamental ingredient for success. IT must also have sound practices and tools to properly understand the environments, systems, configurations, and interdependencies across the solutions currently in place. People, process, tools, and technologies are a complex system involved in IT services.
With every change the system changes. Understanding the evolving landscape past, present and future protects the live environment from incidents after changes. Improved change success rates, minimization of business impact, consistent seamless ongoing service delivery after changes are achieved with proper practices in place.
Onboarding New Customers or Services
Change management capabilities are facilitated through design and transition practices when onboarding new customers or new services. Both require engagement with key stakeholders.
IT must learn about the business it is serving. Who are the customers, what industry, products, and services do they offer and who are their customers? How does the business work to achieve its results? Ultimately, this is what needs to be protected when changes take place.
IT services are value-add capabilities for business to achieve its outcomes. Likewise, when new service solutions are designed, developed, and implemented all knowledge, documentation, tools, and teams need to understand the new solutions for maintenance and support of business outcomes.
Change management takes the vantage point of risk as impact to the business operations. Some changes may be technical in nature like a patch to a server for security protection yet even this could render something non-usable or introduce an error.
Testing and regression on patching are an example of change control through risk mitigation and change remediation. Deciding with customers on change windows and planned down time for maintenance are other examples. All projects whether short, medium, or long term must utilize change management practices.
When IT partners together with customers to understand services from the outside in, we co-create value with the business.
The Bottom Line
The IT industry has been rapidly maturing to serve its customers better. Due to the digital transformation of all businesses from the simplest sole entrepreneur to a large-scale enterprise the reliance on technology solutions is now commoditized.
Business will not survive without its technologies as they are now inter-related. All businesses are therefore technology businesses. Changes are inevitable and must be embraced without sacrificing quality of service delivery.
Excerpt from AKAVEIL’s Service Catalog on Change Management:
“Change Management seeks to ensure that all changes are controlled via agreed standardized methods and procedures. To control changes, AKAVEIL ensures risks and benefits of changes are properly assessed with the appropriate amount of rigor to sustain normal business activities once changes are implemented.
AKAVEIL ensures efficient and prompt handling of all changes to the IT infrastructure which includes involvement of key stakeholders during the assessment, prioritization, and scheduling of changes as well as ongoing status as necessary.
The goal is to minimize the negative impact of changes on the live environment and sustain seamless service delivery for the customers. The hours for change management are 24/7/365.
Agreed change windows are often established in advance via Service Level Agreements. Emergency changes are those necessary to remedy current live production issues. Communication and control will still be maintained in times of emergency with special procedures”
AKAVEIL Technologies has business management expertise and process knowledge in addition to its vast technical competencies.
We embrace best practices and frameworks such as: ITIL, DevOps, PMBOK, Agile, Scrum, Lean and all dimensions of IT service management are continually improved to better serve our customers. Remain competitive and grow your business with AKAVEIL.
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