The change management world is undergoing a revolution. We've been talking about it a great deal recently, emphasizing how change processes are becoming more flexible and responsive as organizations strive to integrate DevOps into their everyday operations. This need to accelerate processes and streamline change is becoming critical as companies attempt to deal with rapid release cycles and an increased frequency of change. However, some tried-and-true change management strategies are remaining relevant, even as enterprise IT demands shift. Three core change practices that are withstanding the test of time include:
1. Maintaining a Change Advisory Board
The role of the CAB is shifting in this new change management world. Organizations are generally depending less on their CABs for many day-to-day changes. Instead, companies are often working to streamline everyday changes by eliminating the need to depend almost exclusively on the change. However, the CAB still plays a vital role in handling more complex changes and in ensuring that strategies remain aligned with business demands.
Even flexible, cloud-focused IT departments will face large, complex changes that require extensive scheduling and coordination. Furthermore, you must ensure that these changes are carefully aligned with business requirements or risk taking on a big project that doesn't end up delivering significant value. This is where a CAB is so beneficial. It brings together business and IT leaders to talk about the potential benefits and risks of a change, make sure the process makes sense in an organizational context and optimize the schedule. A CAB may not be needed as often as it was in the past, but it is still a key tool in your change toolbox.
2. Building up From the IT Infrastructure Library
ITIL best practices are not the fossil they are sometimes portrayed as in contemporary IT departments. Many technology teams have moved away from ITIL as they work to modernize their processes, and while organizations that can build a custom process architecture may be able to benefit from this, plenty of organizations still need a good starting point to build from. The tried-and-true structures created by ITIL still provide a solid foundation for enterprise IT departments. Where ITIL starts to fall short is when companies must become more flexible and responsiveness. This is where a new attitude about ITIL is necessary.
Instead of approaching ITIL as a hard-and-fast set of rules, IT teams can use it as a foundation. They can create a base of processes and procedures that fit within an ITIL framework, benefiting from the stability offered by the best practices. From there, they can customize their everyday processes and procedures based on their specific operational demands, letting them glean the maximum benefits of ITIL without being limited by rigidity.
3. Creating Clear Lines of Communication
Checks and balances have long been ingrained into change processes. CAB meetings, managerial approvals and similar communications have fueled change workflows by ensuring multiple stakeholders participate in projects and ensuring that a single user error will end up leading to major problems. The move toward flexible, responsive change processes does not mean that you need your workers to communicate less. Instead, you must create genuine autonomy within a culture of collaboration. Building efficient communication into changes ensures that necessary checks and balances are in place while also eliminating efficiency roadblocks.
Businesses need to find ways to operate more quickly and efficiently within their change operations, but that doesn't mean they need to throw out the book and start from scratch. Companies can rely on some core legacy change processes and use them as a launching point for future innovation. Maintaining a CAB, using ITIL selectively and ensuring clear communication within the IT department can spur flexible change operations.