Maximize Benefit. Minimize Risk. Planning for IT Change Control
Like so many other types of
policies for IT management,
"change control" policy is used to govern the means and methods by
which technology change is planned, approved and
implemented. The goals are simple - to embrace required
change, avoid unneccessary change and ensure that all
approved change is implemented with minimal disruption to
ongoing operations. This is a big task - read on to learn how
Technology change is inevitable, whether it relates to systems administration,
hardware configuration, software updates, or other maintenance obligations.
As a standardized IT management practice, IT change control is
used to support
changing business and technology needs, designed to maintain overall
stability, security and reliability. Technology change is beneficial,
but it can also be disruptive. Quality change control practices must
be designed to realize every benefit, while minimizing related problems.
Get an illustrated view
of IT policy planning and development in our
The Fundamentals of Sound IT Policy
Basic Principles of Technology Change Control
The basic principles for managing "technology change" can be broken down into four (4) categories
for simplified planning, covering technology use, change control targets,
change delivery mechanisms and change "purpose".
How is change control used to manage technology?
- Change control is a management practice used to "control" the initiation,
planning, approval, execution and processing of required changes to
What are the most common change control targets?
- The targets of change management practices, and related
policies, are in-place technology
including networks, servers, storage devices, end-user devices
(desktops, laptops, notebooks, tablets), software, and related products.
How is change control delivered?
- Change control practices are delivered as documented policies, implemented
through the use of related operational procedures and related tools.
What are the primary change control "goals and objectives"?
- To manage and create a documented record of required changes and
ensure that each change is implemented in the most cost effective, high
quality manner with minimal disruption to ongoing operations.
Standardized Steps for Effective Policy Planning
Change control policy development begins with a comprehensive needs
assessment, executed to establish the basis upon which policy terms
and variables will be created.
"define, align, and approve" management methodology provides an
standardized roadmap for policy planning, development and implementation).
Step 1: Identify your change control objectives.
- What are you trying to accomplish with the use of change control?
Common change control objectives include problem reduction, improved
control and improved service quality.
Step 2: Identify your policy development "scope".
- At this stage, you must consider the need to create new policies
or update existing policies.
Step 3: Collect information and requirements in order to evaluate
current needs and capabilities:
- Inventory your change control "targets" (in place systems, hardware
- Identify change control requirements (what types of changes
do you encounter?)
- Identify organizational requirements (number of locations, business
- Evaluate change control capabilities including resource availability,
SLA obligations and skill levels.
Step 4: Create "change control" policy deliverables.
- Document goals, objectives, roles, responsibilities, initiation procedures,
approval procedures, design procedures, testing procedures, scheduling,
communication, recovery, support, documentation, tracking, waivers and
Step 5: Implement policies and pay careful attention to communication
- If change policies are to have any true benefit, they must be enforced.
Make sure you have sufficient management support to overcome objections
and minimize related conflicts.
Step 6: Plan for ongoing review of policy impact, value,
and revision as may be needed.
- Continuous improvement and continued relevance are essential to IT change control value and viability.
Review and evaluation should be a "baked in" element of the change control policy and related operational
procedures. (Also Read:
Procedures for Managing Project Change).
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