When thinking about workflow and business process management, one of the major topics involved is Change Control.
What Is Change Control?
“Change Control is a systematic approach to managing all changes made to a product or a system. The purpose is to ensure that no unnecessary changes are made, that all changes are documented, that services are not unnecessarily disrupted and that resources are used efficiently.”
While the concept of change control may seem simple enough, many businesses struggle with how to implement change efficiently. Many documents have been written and solutions created to control the change process. As part of the ITIL best practices framework, there’s even an entire discipline devoted to change control, while solution providers have developed suites of product offerings designed specifically to control the change process. All cover the following basics:
• Define the change
• Analyze the impact of the change
• Authorize the change
• Report on the results of the change
From these four steps, change control processes can be defined and built for all operational areas of your business. Because each business area serves a different purpose, the basic process itself must be flexible to accommodate the various areas. This may include different steps, based on approval levels or impacts of the change.
Areas Impacted by Change Control
Here are several areas that change control may impact:
1. IT Change
Change control is frequently identified in an IT environment, with the most focus and the widest range of articles and software devoted to it. It also covers a broad range of processes including: user access, hardware or server changes, and service implementation. Andy Hogg in ComputerWeekly.com says, “Within the IT world, change is inevitable. We have the constant release of security patches, hot fixes, service packs, new versions, changes to code, hardware replacements, configuration changes, modifications to reference data – the list goes on.” He further states that “70-80% of service interruptions are caused by changes being made,” or rephrased, “70-80% of the pain is caused by changes.” The point Hogg makes is that change is often a painful process because things can get hairy. Having a change management process in place is critical to ensure minimal risk when making IT changes.
2. Design Change
The change control process serves the customer, whether internal or external to your company. For example, a manufacturer making changes to a product based on the needs of the customer requires a change control process that ensures proper reviews by engineering, safety, and operations teams before the customer approves a final design. Another company may not need a change control process for a customer but, instead, may need a document management system that ensures internal reviews by the legal and standards teams before final release.
3. Operations Change
Businesses continually change the way they operate and handle their business processes, searching for efficiencies to be more cost effective. Changes to processes need to be reviewed and authorized to make sure it doesn’t impact operations in other areas. For example, a company that needs to make rate changes on their website may need those changes to be reviewed by multiple teams to find out where problems might occur and who would be affected. Additionally, when process changes impact multiple departments, the heads of those departments may need to grant approval before moving forward.
4. Software Change
Companies creating software typically go through some sort of change control process where enhancements are requested, reviewed, and analyzed before being approved, then developed and tested before release. The more complex the enhancement request, the more potential impact to the product. Software can be helpful when supporting customers, so that every glitch in the software is reported and follows appropriate change control processes. Every company handles the steps differently, depending on their specific needs.
Flexibility Is Key
Change Control is a basic component of business operations and cannot be limited to one area within a business. Any software used to track your change control should be flexible enough to cover these multiple areas with easy and simple tweaks within the software that don’t require detailed programming modifications. If software has a specific Change Control function, can it be configured to be used outside of IT, or is it locked down specifically to that area? Does it handle simple checklists to branching workflow processes, depending on the needs of the business area? Can it be configured so you only need to use one tool across your entire company?
How Issuetrak Can Help with Change Control
Issuetrak’s flexible configuration allows for both simple and complex processes. By allowing you to determine the exact steps specific to your area of change including any required branching, you can use it across any business area to meet your various change control needs. Issuetrak doesn’t lock you into steps that may not apply, and it also allows you to create multiple processes, depending on which business area needs to implement change control. Whether your change control deals with Help Desk issues, design changes, operational changes, software enhancements or bug fixes, or something else, Issuetrak gives you latitude to define your own process and to make it as detailed as you’d like to ensure change requests are properly reviewed and approved and then efficiently implemented.