How to Effectively Manage Change (No Leap of Faith Necessary)

As the saying goes, “Nobody likes change.” Nowhere is that more true than in IT service management, where making a simple change can seem like jumping off of a cliff. That leap is made all the more treacherous by how difficult it can be to anticipate what potential problems will arise from any change you make. In fact, simply trying to connect the dots between a current issue and application or infrastructure change is laborious, because your service management system may not definitely tie the information together.

This problem leaves people on the front lines of support responding to an onslaught of incidents without the means to trace them back to a particular change. Rather than depending on your support staff to act as “incident barometers,” as service management blogger Ryan Ogilvie puts it, consider an alternative approach. Comprehensive analytics applications can assist your IT leaders in implementing a more effective strategy for linking changes with incidents.

Stop Playing the Guessing Game

For supervisors to effectively manage change, they must be able to extract the appropriate data from systems and quickly correlate changes with issues. Establishing that cause-and-effect relationship is exactly what an advanced analytics solution like Numerify is designed to do. Armed with the ability to pinpoint which changes are responsible for issues, IT staff can quickly get to the root of the problem and solve it once and for all.

Having this information in hand can also tell you what actions to take or not take going forward. For example, companies with many locations (such as retailers) will roll out a fix or new functionality over several months to avoid nationwide disruptions. If they roll out a fix to the point of sale system in the Northeast and incidents start coming in a few weeks later, the ability to correlate the change with the incident tickets helps inform what should be done to address the current issue — and enables IT to proactively avoid the problem during future roll outs.

Upgrade Your Existing Change Processes

Another key to minimizing the impact of changes on your applications and infrastructure is putting a good change management process in place. Equally important is measuring whether the process gets followed consistently, which can help you assess whether a lack of process adherence explains why some changes generate incidents. There’s a good chance you have a strong process that may not be followed correctly or completely every time a change is made. Alternatively, you may need to adapt your change management process to better suit your organization.

To evaluate how well processes are working, you will likely need a tool other than your IT service management system. While these systems have strong workflow features, they may not provide much information about the effectiveness of a given process as a whole. You don’t have insight into past activity such as the status of a change five days ago, or how long it took for a change to move from one process step to another. In addition, you can’t correlate information around type of change, application, people, locations, and infrastructure — data required to assess where the change management process is and is not being followed.

Here again Numerify can provide you with greater visibility by connecting information from a system like ServiceNow® with all of your other relevant data sources. Analyze where the change management process is followed, by whom, and for what type of changes. You can also vet the change management process itself to demonstrate that changes are more likely to be successful when your staff follows the process.

For more information, visit our Change feature page.

[Photo courtesy of pexels.]

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