The change management world is undergoing a revolution. We've been talking about it a great deal recently, emphasizing how change processes are becoming more flexible and responsive as organizations strive to integrate DevOps into their everyday operations. This need to accelerate processes and streamline change is becoming critical as companies attempt to deal with rapid release cycles and an increased frequency of change. However, some tried-and-true change management strategies are remaining relevant, even as enterprise IT demands shift. Three core change practices that are withstanding the test of time include:
1. Maintaining a Change Advisory Board
The role of the CAB is shifting in this new change management world to focus on a peer review based CAB. With organizations relying less on their CABs for many day-to-day changes, the automation of approval for small impact changes that have a history of successful implementation ensures that change management keeps up with the required speed of continuous delivery. The CAB still plays a vital role in handling more complex changes and ensures that strategies remain aligned with business demands, but the inclusion of a peer-to-peer change approval process and the automation of small impact changes provides the flexibility that agile organizations need.
2. Building Up From the IT Infrastructure Library
ITIL best practices are not the fossil they are sometimes portrayed as in contemporary IT departments. Many technology teams have moved away from ITIL as they work to modernize their processes, and while organizations that can build custom process architectures may be able to benefit from this, plenty of organizations still need a good starting point to build from. The tried-and-true structures created by ITIL still provide a solid foundation for enterprise IT departments. Where ITIL starts to fall short is when companies must become more flexible and responsive.
Instead of approaching ITIL as a hard-and-fast set of rules, IT teams can use it as a foundation to build a customized ‘best-of' approach that fits business plans. They can create a base of processes and procedures that fit within an ITIL framework, benefiting from the stability offered by the best practices. From there, they can customize their everyday processes and procedures based on their specific operational demands, letting them glean the maximum benefits of ITIL without being limited by rigidity.
3. Creating Clear Lines of Communication
Checks and balances have long been ingrained into change processes. CAB meetings, managerial approvals, and similar communications have fueled change workflows by ensuring multiple stakeholders participate in projects and helping to prevent single user errors that lead to major problems. The move toward flexible, responsive change processes does not mean that you need your workers to communicate less. Instead, you must create genuine autonomy within a culture of collaboration. Building efficient communication into changes ensures that necessary checks and balances are in place while also eliminating efficiency roadblocks.
Businesses need to find ways to operate more quickly and efficiently within their change operations, but that doesn't mean they need to throw out the book and start from scratch. Companies can rely on some core legacy change processes and use them as a launching point for future innovation. Maintaining a CAB, using ITIL selectively and ensuring clear communication within the IT department can spur flexible change operations.