Change Management and Role of the CAB

Discuss and debate ITIL Change Management issues
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Alex_J
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Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:19 pm

Hi,

I've always worked in software development, and have always seen CAB's and Change Management teams used to decide whether changes go to the production environment based on impact and risk. For smaller changes, RFC's are raised just before they are released to production.

I've recently joined a department where their CAB and Change Management process does more than that - it decides whether small application changes (not projects) should be coded in the first place. So the CAB is discussing the technical design of changes, whether they should have been coded in the first place, is rejecting changes if they were not coded in the correct way, and is also responsible for the prioritisation of changes being coded.

I've been asked to create an 'end-to-end' ITIL Change Management process for the application which is responsible for deciding what application changes should be coded, what order they should be coded in, how they should be coded, then after they've been coded, what approvals are needed and then the process should deal with the approval to be released to production.

An idea that has been suggested is a 'CAB' in the beginning to decide whether to code changes in the first place, and a 'CAB' later on just before release to decide whether they are released to production or not.

And I've been told that's what ITIL change management is. But that's not really what I've seen Change Managers do in the past in companies which said they had implemented ITIL-aligned Change Management.

I want to check whether what I've been told is right - in ITIL do CAB's normally decide whether to make changes in the first place (before they are specced and coded)? Are ITIL Change Managers responsible for that process?

Thanks for any advice as I'm getting quite confused! :D


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Diarmid
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Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:43 am

Alex_J,

I cannot answer for "normally" although from this and other fora I get the impression that what you describe is prevalent.

However the logic of change management is that you should agree the change before doing the work to prepare it. Why would you spend time designing and coding for something that may not be needed, practical or even useful?

It may be difficult to do, but integrating the change management process into the whole organization makes sense. It can prevent someone developing code without ensuring there is sufficient hardware capacity to run it effectively, just as it can prevent someone ordering additional servers without ensuring that there is sufficient space and power supply for them to be used.

Don't forget that any code you develop has to (logically) be a consequence of a request (i.e. a change request). So why not manage the change from the start?
"Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
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Alex_J
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Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:30 pm

Thanks for your help.

I definitely agree that you need to get approval before making coding changes - but I've always seen that as a different process than the approval process for going live with different people involved. I always thought that the ITIL CAB was for the move to production, and much earlier in the SDLC you had a different process and group of people who considered whether to make the change in the first place but that wasn't actually ITIL Change Management.

In our department which I have recently joined, the agreement to make the small change can happen several months before something goes live, at that time we don't know what the change actually consists of in terms of configuration items, and there is no structured approval process for the move to production. We seem to have a hybrid process that tries to merge these activities into one fairly unstructured meeting, and as a result we don't seem to do either approval process very well. I think that's because people are confused about what IT Change Management is, and all they focus on is the business impact of the change, discussions about design and problem management discussions as to why certain incidents keep happening. To them an ITIL CAB agrees whether to make coding changes and covers all those other things, and I don't think that's right. I thought the earlier approval process is more project (or business?) change management, and the latter is ITIL change management.

I would like to isolate the earlier approval process and improve it, but also isolate the approval process to move to production and get it looking like the structured IT change management that I know and have seen in my previous jobs.

However, when I'm trying to explain this to the people I work with they don't understand, so I'm trying to use ITIL to help clarify it.
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