Has the change management process become more important in today's world of cloud and virtualization? Why or why not?
Change management has always been a major component of IT management. The emergence of cloud technology and virtualization -- both of which are not really new -- has not altered the role of change management in today's complex IT world. Changes are the norm in most IT environments, and a structured, well-managed change management process is essential to maintaining order and ensuring changes are processed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Six principal activities form the change management process: identify a potential change, analyze the change request, evaluate the change, plan the change, implement the change, and review and close out the change process. These activities are accomplished through four roles, which are summarized in Table 1. Change management activities are described in Table 2.
|Table 1: Change management process roles|
|Customer||The customer requests a change because of issues encountered or new requirements. The customer can be either a person or an organization, and can be either inside or outside the company.|
|Project manager||A project manager is assigned to the change request. There may be a change manager as well, who is responsible for change management.|
|Change committee||A change committee decides whether the change request will be implemented or not.|
|Change designer||The change designer plans and implements the change; this person can also be the project manager.|
|Table 2: Change management activities|
|Potential change identified||Problem or issue experienced||A customer experiences a problem or other issue in a system or related service; this generates a problem report.|
|New activity required||Based on the issue encountered, the customer desires a modification to the system and/or service.|
|Change request||The customer prepares and distributes a change request.|
|Analyze change request||Determine technical feasibility||Project manager reviews the request and determines the technical feasibility.|
|Determine costs and benefits||Project manager determines the costs, benefits and time frame of proposed change request.|
|Change evaluation||Depending on the request, its benefits and associated costs, the change committee makes a go/no-go decision.|
|Analyze effect of change plan||Analyze impact of proposed change||Conduct an analysis of the potential impact of the proposed change to the system and/or service.|
|Develop a plan for implementing the changes||Develop change plan||Develop a plan to implement the proposed changes; secure necessary approvals.|
|Implement proposed changes||Schedule and deploy changes||Establish a project plan, set a time frame and implement the proposed changes.|
|Validate the changes||Conduct an exercise or audit to ensure that the implemented changes work as designed.|
|Update documentation||Ensure that all system and service documentation is updated with the changes.|
|Disseminate the changes||Distribute details on changes to all employees and other relevant parties, such as key clients and vendors.|
|Review and close change||Verify change||Determine that no further actions are needed relevant to the change; close out the request and schedule a follow-up review for six months.|
The key is to maintain good change management policies and procedures regardless of the operating environment. Ensure that any managed service organizations that support and/or manage your production systems, backup systems, DR systems, networks and other infrastructure elements are aware of your change management policies and requirements, and are capable of accommodating your needs.