Change control within organisations, specifically within IT departments, is important to know about. There are many benefits of knowing what it is and doing it well, so let’s take a look at what the change control process is.
What Is Change Control?
Change control is a process put in place by an organisation to ensure that any changes to systems are introduced in a controlled and coordinated method. There are many benefits of having a change control process in place:
- Ensuring that everyone involved is aware of the details of the change
- Investigating the impact of the change on other systems being used
- Discuss why the change is being made
Change control is primarily handled by the IT department, as they are the ones implementing changes to software and systems. Other teams may develop the changes, depending on the system and the organisation, but the IT department is still involved in some respect.
What’s Involved In The Change Control Process?
Different organisations have different implementations of a change control process, but a general process involves the following steps:
- Record the change as something that is required
- Assess the impact of the change (how it is going to affect existing systems)
- Plan who does the change and how it gets done
- Build and test the change to the system
- Implement the change to the system
- Close and get acceptance for the change from the original requestor
Let’s take a look at these steps in more detail.
Record The Change
The first step of the change control process is where the change is recorded. A change is usually requested by a business user (someone who isn’t IT and actually uses the system). It can be requested for many reasons, including time saving, regulatory requirements, or process improvement.
The change request is then recorded by whoever supports or manages the system that the change is for. These changes are recorded into a support system or change management system, which varies from company to company.
Assess The Change
For each change that is requested, there are often many people or areas that are impacted. These people are known as stakeholders, and they are the ones that are impacted or need to have a say on the change. They could be users in other teams, managers of other systems, or different business areas such as finance.
In this stage, the change is assessed for impact to these systems, impact to business process, and potential risk to any part of the business. A decision is made on these points, and the final decision is made on if the change should be implemented.
Plan The Change
Once the change has been assessed, the next step in the change control process is to plan the change. At this point, the change is then assigned to the relevant team to do the work, and an estimate is given on the time required and the time it can be implemented. This is communicated to everyone involved (the stakeholders).
Build and Test The Change
During the build and test phase of the change control process, the delivery team (who is working on the change) will design what needs to be done, perform the actual build of the change, and perform testing. This may be done in conjunction with other business users, such as the person who raised the original change.
Testing is done so that it meets all of the internal testing requirements. A plan is also created to “undo” the changes if they are implemented and are not working correctly. This is known as a “backout plan”.
Implement The Change
Once the change has been built and tested, the following step in the normal change control process is to actually implement the change. At this point, a time and date has been devised, as well as an implementation plan on how it will be moved into the production system.
In many cases, an implementation is done onto a test system first. This will allow the implementation team to test the process for implementing the change and see if there are any areas that are incorrect or outstanding.
Once the plan is completed and a test implementation is done, the implementation is performed on the production system. Checks and tests are performed along the way, and if anything is unsuccessful, the backout process is performed to undo any changes that were made.
Close The Change
At this point, the change has been implemented into the production systems. All that remains is to close the change control process. This involves a few steps, depending on the business.
Approval is usualy gathered from the person who raised the change originally, just to see if it is operating correctly and addresses their original need. Funds are often transferred to vendors or teams, but the timing and need for this depends on the organisation.
The change is updated in the change management system with the details of implementation and the status is updated.
I hope this article has cleared up any confusion you’ve had on the change control process for IT systems. Do you have any questions on this process? Post them in the area below!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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