John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” By now, you would think that humans would understand that change is constant. However, when it comes to managing change within the enterprise, challenges abound.
These challenges are surmountable, though. If your organization is going to undergo any kind of change in the upcoming year, you can make change management easier by gaining control over the entire process, personalizing the change management method for each department, managing risk compliance, and making it faster. The right technological solution makes overcoming these challenges much easier. Let's take a closer look at IT change management best practices, and how to improve upon them at various steps along the way.
The goal of change management is to make the process of effecting change and adapting to it smoothly and easily. Yet, when you don’t control the change management process from the outset, achieving that aim becomes next to impossible.
In order to understand what it is that needs to be controlled, you need to be aware of the components of change management.
Change management is made up of a number of discrete processes: planning, testing, communicating, scheduling, implementation, documenting, and evaluating. When you lose control of one of those processes, you lose control of the greater process.
“When you lose control of one change management process, you lose control of the entire change management process”
We’ll illustrate with an example. Let’s say you’re going to implement new software. You purchase it and then deploy it without telling any employees in advance. Your employees are furious – they had been using the previous software for several years and had become accustomed to it. They are now scrambling to find workarounds for your new solution because they were completely unprepared to deal with its introduction into their lives.
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Controlling the change management process can be a challenge. You need to have a system in place that enables you to plan, test, communicate, schedule, implement, document, and evaluate. This system shouldn’t be overly complicated because otherwise you can lose sight of a single component and that can throw off the entire process.
“The best way to control change management is through change management software”
How can you control the change management process? The best way to do it is with change management software. Change management software gives you a single pane of glass through which you can communicate with the change approval board, notify everyone of upcoming changes, and see reports about changes for quick evaluation.
Personalize Change Management for Each Department
Change management isn’t and shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all.
Each department of your company is unique and has its own special needs. We’ll use another example to make our point...
DevOps seems as though it’s completely at odds with ITIL change management – DevOps style of development emphasizes continuous integration, delivery, and deployment. But that isn’t the case at all. Change management is meant to protect the business, including the DevOps team. For the optimal mix of momentum and risk management, strategies should merge DevOps and ITIL change management best practice.
“Change management isn’t and shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all”
Instead of ignoring change management for DevOps (or for any other department), change management should be optimized. In DevOps, there are a number of risks that could affect the company. Changes might be unauthorized, there might be scheduling conflicts, and the service desk might not be aware of the changes.
Moreover, non-IT line-of-business departments handle change management differently. ITIL change management isn’t going to work for those teams – a different approach is necessary.
“Change management should be optimized by department”
Change management tools enable you to personalize the change management process for each department. You can implement one change management process for the IT team, another for DevOps, and a third for non-IT departments. The ability to personalize the change management process doesn’t create more complexity; rather, it ensures that change management will be implemented appropriately and that change will be accepted across the company.
Managing Risk Compliance
You might firmly believe that change is necessary and positive. However, it needs to be balanced against regulatory compliance so you don’t put your company, your employees, or your customers at risk.
Complying with regulations while undergoing change requires a thorough understanding of the regulatory environment in which you operate. You must also keep track of each and every change you make to create a paper trail in case you’re audited.
“Change needs to be balanced against regulatory compliance”
There are two ways to carry out the change-tracking process: manually or automated. Although it would seem as though the manual method would be advisable because it creates an easy-to-trace record, it’s actually quite a poor idea. Manual data entry can be fraught with errors. In addition, if more than one person is tracking the changes, you wind up with data silos.
In contrast, the automated method creates a single version of truth. All the information goes into one place, so everyone can see what changes have been made. There aren’t data silos, so when the auditor comes, you have an organized, accurate record to present.
Speeding up the Change Process
Think back a moment to the last time your organization underwent a change. How long did the process take? Did it feel as though it was drawn-out and longer than necessary? Slow and steady might win the race, but if change takes too long to put in place, you risk it becoming irrelevant and out-of-date.
When it comes to change, you’re working against the clock to a certain extent. You don’t want to rush because when you rush, you make mistakes; change management is complex, and there are many moving pieces to track and control. At the same time, this change might be badly needed and will make your company more competitive. What’s the solution?
“Slow and steady might win the race, but if change takes too long, it might be irrelevant”
Change management tools offer a single pane of glass so you can see all of your changes in one place. Moreover, change management software allows you to set business rules so you can automate the change management process.
If you’re going to make an organizational change in 2018, you’ll also need to improve your change management process so that they’re effective, risk-compliant, and efficient. Change management tools allow you to do that. To learn more about change management software, download the guide 25 Key Requirements for Change Management.