It's easy to think of CAB like an elite organization, a clandestine tribunal that pulls the strings behind the scenes to orchestrate enterprise IT operations.
Really, though, the less CABs are forced to get their hands dirty and interfere in the change management process, the better. While each member's expertise ideally contributes a great deal to the direction DevOps takes during a software development life cycle and in application maintenance, much of change management now passes through automated environments more than manual ones. Indecision on the part of a CAB member can put the whole change management process in a lurch, even as DevOps continues to knock down silos, accelerate releases, and makes IT more aware.
When assembling a CAB, certain qualities reinforce the integrity of successful DevOps tools and ensure change management runs smoothly while still relying on manual decision-making. CAB members who fit the following specifications prevent work-in-progress excesses and a high prevalence of buggy code. Most importantly, an effective CAB fosters the rudimentary ideals of DevOps, as well as the crunchy data-driven details underpinning responsive IT Service Management.
1. Ability to Communicate Swiftly
Not every change requires a formal meeting, but no change should be undertaken without going through the proper channels of communication.
DevOps culture encourages the free flow of information between IT personnel who may have never collaborated before, and for that, software releases and upgrades advance their speed, regularity and accuracy. However, all of these gains are contingent on how well changes are communicated between and to relevant change managers who have final say. Additionally, certain changes may need to go through an approval stage from people on the outskirts or outside the CAB. For example, a certain change could depend on a yes or no from the legal department or finance.
Communication must therefore be less ideation and more iteration - an obvious, rehearsed passage of data instead of a knee-jerk reaction to avoid time-intensive pitfalls.
CAB members should all partake in an unshakeable standard for quickly communicating change requests in an environment devoid of bottlenecks. In this frictionless space, change managers receive all the information they require to take intelligent action and create effective change.
2. Jack/Jill of all Trades
Change management has just as much to do with "change" as it does "management."
Though a company might deviate from more traditional service management strategies, the University and Colleges Information Systems Association demonstrates just how far-reaching a CAB member's knowledge base can be expected to extend. CAB members who understand APIs must also know a thing or two about KPIs, or key performance indicators. Customer-focused metrics may not be a software developer's usual fare, but under the new DevOps regime, CABs need to know the "big picture" business angles: How will a change impact others on the docket? What resources will this change require going forward? Will this change compromise or enhance security or help desk solutions?
3. Taking Bolt Cutters to the Chain of Command
As we mentioned earlier, CAB members aren't all equal - they're more like an IT hive mind, delivering each facet of a proposed change to the appropriate change managers. This, however, clashes with another idea posed earlier as well, how CABs should mitigate how many hands are laid on change requests to support fast and actionable DevOps. A study lead by analysts at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center discovered more than 1 in every 5 IT service interruptions stem from human error. Authors cite change management as one area of incredible import in this regard.
CABs should have a system in place that can differentiate between local change resolution and other instances where request may need to be run up the flagpole. ITSM suites capable of disseminating and distributing change requests accordingly eliminate overinvolvement of nonessential personnel into low- or executive-level change management.