The Change Management Process
By Christoph Puetz
Change Management is a critical piece for corporations. Large corporations depend on it for anything that affects their production environment. But what is change management at all? Change Management is the process that kicks in when a change is made to the production environment of a business. For the matter of this article we will use an Information Technology related case to explain Change Management.
Company "A" uses change management to keep track of changes to its web servers. The change management process also allows to inform all internal business units and departments of the upcoming change to the web servers and what parts of the business are affected by this change. The change management process is started by the decision to update the web servers with a newer version of the web application. The website administrators, the QA department and the developers have finished the final testing of the new application update and now it is time to go live.
The website administrator starts the process by writing down the purpose of the change and what steps are required to complete the task. He also describes the impact to internal and external users and which departments of the business might be affected (example: external customer service). The description of these tasks for the update are usually high level and not too detailed. The reason for this is more to inform the business about the change and not to list an exact how to step by step guide.
Once the website administrator has finished the initial change management request form (electronic or hardcopy) it goes up one level to his direct manager and with his approval the change management request is being distributed among departmental points of contact that have been defined in an earlier process. The different departments and business groups review the change management request to evaluate the impact to the department or group. If no impact is visible or if a possible impact is already addressed and covered in the change request the department or group approves the change management. If a possible impact is not addressed the group or department denies approval and ask for more information or how the issue in question will be addressed. Approval for the change request goes to "pending".
Once all issues are addressed and worked out and every necessary approval has been submitted the change management request awaits one more step - CTO (Chief Technology Officer) or CIO (Chief Information Officer) approval might be required. This process makes sure that a track record of changes that affect the business is created and that every group, every department and the business management are aware of what is going on.
Some critics see change management as a process that slows down the ability to act fast when needed. Others see it as assurance for continuing business success as department A might not realize how big the impact of a proposed change is to department B.
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