Does my Business Need  an ITIL Change Management Process?


A few years ago, an IT team decided to roll out a new automated software system for the company to use. They created a database, built a number of automations, and designed what they  believed was a perfect system. 


It may have been a great idea on paper, but in reality, it was a complete flop. Communication from the IT team to company employees was poor , and many team members were concerned about being automated out of a job. 


To make matters worse, the software didn’t function as expected. Employees would frequently find that the entire system had crashed, leading to hours wasted waiting for the system to come back online. 


Productivity, morale, and quality all dropped, while the IT team worked desperately to right the ship. Within two years of launching their system, the company was out of business. 


Unfortunately for them, they lacked an effective change management process that could have generated employee buy-in and paved the way for a smooth software launch.

What is ITIL Change Management?

Like other ITIL services, Change Management is a process that makes it easier for organizations to make changes to their IT infrastructure. It creates a framework that helps organizations request, prioritize, authorize, approve, schedule, and implement changes. 


In other words, it tracks and manages change throughout its entire lifecycle to control risk and limit disruptions that stem from the changes that are being implemented. 


Change management can be either reactive, in cases where there is a problem that needs a long-term fix, or proactive, such as when an IT team wants to introduce new software or processes into an organization. 


Every change will have a different impact and different stakeholders. For example, moving from on-premises software to cloud software might require direct users, IT members, and security teams’ input, while changing an HR process might require input from every team in the company that onboards new hires. 

Implement Change Management before your next project!

What Are The Objectives of Change Management?

There are three primary objectives to ITIL change management. 

For starters, it allows organizations to take control and manage their changes. Without structure or process, changes are often conducted haphazardly across an organization. They may even create conflict as different parts of the organization may implement changes that create complications within other departments. 


The standard processes within an ITIL change management engagement ensure that all aspects of the change, including planning, risk assessment, and implementation, are effectively managed in a way that is for the overall good of the organization. 


Additionally, ITIL helps organizations get better at implementing changes. Controlling the process for change, through tools like Request for Change (RFC) tickets, provides the IT team with the information they need at the beginning of the process to fully understand the scope of the project. 


Lastly, ITIL change management enables continuous improvement. Through the structured process, organizations can roll out the necessary changes without impacting existing operations. 


Overall, this means fewer changes, improved communication about the changes that are being rolled out, and fewer disruptions caused by last-minute, poorly thought-out changes. 

ITIL Change Management Process


The ITIL Change Management Process Flow

To get started, organizations need to create a process flow. A typical process will have 6 stages:


  1. Submission
  2. Planning 
  3. Approval
  4. Implementation
  5. Review
  6. Closure


Stage 1: Submission

Change is initiated when a team within the organization submits a change ticket. Initiated with the service desk, the ticket contains basic information about the requested change, as well as setting a priority level for the change. 


Stage 2: Planning 

Perhaps the most important stage in change management, the planning stage looks at impact analysis, rollout plans, backout plans, and expected downtime. 


The details are documented, and that information is used to convince other stakeholders of the need for the requested change. 


Stage 3: Approval

Before any work can start on the project, it needs to be approved by the Change Advisory Board (CAB). CABs change based on the required change and involve stakeholders who may be affected by the proposed changes.


Stage 4: Implementation

Once the change is approved, the project can be implemented. Using project management tools, team members who are involved in the process are assigned tasks, and carry them out to get the project done. 


Stage 5: Review

Once the change has been completed, a team looks over the project to see if there were any changes from the approved plan. They work together to iron out any problems, and once they are finished, they can send the project to closure. 


Stage 6: Closure

The last step in the change, closure involves the project manager recording whether the project was successful, a failure, or incomplete. 



What Type of Changes does ITIL Change Management Oversee?

According to ITIL, there are three primary categories of changes. 


Standard Changes are fairly simple and don’t need much involvement. They are often preapproved and done quite frequently. Examples of this type of change include updating software patches or lifecycle hardware replacement. While a risk assessment does need to be completed for the first time this happens, subsequent changes don’t require it.


Emergency Changes are things that need to be done as soon as possible. They are usually unexpected and are most commonly brought about due to security lapses or breakdowns. Organizations need to establish an Emergency Change Advisory Board (ECAB) to deal with these situations. 


Most organizations define Normal Changes as any change that isn’t standard or an emergency. They allow the team to work together, following the structured process flow. Examples include migrations, software changes, or moving on-premises data to the cloud. 

ITIL change management best practices

ITIL change management best practices

Within the structure of the ITIL Change Management process, here are a few best practices to ensure your changes go smoothly. 


Engage with users

Particularly during the planning stage, it can be really useful to talk with users about the process or software that is being changed. They have firsthand knowledge of the issues that are trying to be resolved and can provide insight that will impact moving the project forward. 


Communicate with Stakeholders

Effective communications with people directly and indirectly involved is a frequent factor in successful change operations. Be sure to communicate why the change is happening, expectations, and how the change will impact employees.


Engage with Project Management

While Change Management and Project Management are separate, the two disciplines cross tracks. Working collaboratively with the project team has shown to meet or exceed project objectives. 


Bottom Line on ITIL Change Management

ITIL change management practices create smooth processes for implementing change. It requires buy-in from key stakeholders, ensures that there is alignment among teams, and involves oversight committees to ensure that the changes satisfy its requirements.  


Introduce change management processes before your next project. Talk to us to learn how!