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The Role of Change Management For NERC/CIP

04/15/2015 by: The SunView Team

NERC/CIP regulatory standards are among the most rigid, strict measures out there, and with good reason. NERC/CIP standards regulate operations in the electricity sector and are designed specifically to make sure that the critical power systems that provide infrastructure in the United States remain available when they are needed. This means that NERC/CIP regulations aren't just there to protect data or help businesses ensure they operate effectively, they are designed to safeguard our nation from a variety of threats.

As utility providers become more dependent on cyberassets (especially with the rise of smart grid technologies), traditional IT practices are playing a larger role in the electric grid, and change management processes need to be well established to ensure compliance with NERC/CIP standards.

Understanding the Role of Change Management in NERC/CIP Compliance
IT changes will be a huge component of operations in an intelligent grid architecture. Whether operations include adjusting software configurations in light of intelligent metering solutions, building out a network that can move data across the entire grid or applying advanced analytics and monitoring tools to electricity delivery systems, the dependence on IT systems is huge. With so much IT getting involved in the electric grid, organizations need to be prepared for frequent changes as utility providers work to fine tune their grids and add new functions to improve performance. These challenges are all heightened when utility providers need to make changes in response to a disaster event.

However, all of these changes create the potential for mistakes that only complicate existing problems, and NERC/CIP compliance exists to make sure any operations within the utility sector do not compromise the integrity of the grid. With change complexity rising in the utility sector, the need for advanced IT service management systems that give IT teams more control and visibility during change tasks is essential.

Using Change Management to Ensure NERC/CIP Compliance
The challenge with complying with standards like NERC/CIP regulations isn't just that you have to follow the rules, you also must document how you will establish processes and record that best practices are being followed. Advanced ITSM platforms are well equipped to meet these demands as they feature tools for everything from service design to automatic process documentation. Change management is especially valuable in this area because it helps companies customize processes, collaboration methods and authorizations to ensure that any change is completed in compliance with NERC/CIP regulations.