Poorly reviewed, assessed, and managed changes are the same thing as gambling with the business’ ability to operate. There are a number of benefits offered by effective and efficient Change Management including risk mitigation, architectural integrity, encouraging a business-oriented focus, and the long-term automation of routine tasks.
Effective Change Management alleviates risk by giving the organization the right amount of time and expertise to properly balance the risk and reward of change. For example, ITIL encourages organizations to regularly assemble a Change Advisory Board (CAB). The purpose of a CAB is to moderate the various risks associated with change by having technical and business representatives review and assess the different aspects of changes. Ideally, CAB members review scheduled changes before meeting to allow enough time to conduct a thorough review so that CAB can make sure the right expertise is available and the right amount of time is taken to review planned changes.
Architecture can be thought of as a set of shared decisions about policies, principles, rules, and common approaches that organizations follow. It should serve the organization’s mission, and any changes that aren’t properly vetted and managed are potentially damaging to the organization. Knowingly or not, every organization makes architectural decisions. How well an organization abides by those architectural decisions is often directly related to how effective and efficient its Change Management process is.
ITIL Change Management encourages a business-oriented focus in many ways. First, CAB meetings should include appropriate representatives from the business. This is to make sure that changes are properly understood from a standpoint of both their positive and negative effects on the business and that customer and user views are considered. Second, Change Management makes people throughout the organization aware of what is changing and why. Furthermore, Change Management encourages a business-oriented focus by scheduling changes in line with business volumes and critical business activities.
Organizations that follow ITIL Change Management best practices regularly experience increased mitigation of risks, benefits from following standardized architectures, stronger business-oriented focus, as well as the ability to handle high volumes of change using the standard change mechanism.
Excerpted and available for download from Understanding and Managing the Risk of Change