change management

Pitfalls to avoid when implementing Change

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Taking the “Me” Out of Customer Service

You can’t avoid change. Whether in life or at work, it’s always happening: Change! When it directly impacts your job, or should I say, a ‘Change’ gone badly impacts your job; it reminds you that, as with anything, there are pitfalls and challenges that must be taken into account. Change management can make all the difference.

When implementing a formal Change Management process, especially for the first time and particularly if you’re doing it because of an outage that occurred as a result of modifications to your production environment, then you will want to make sure you are always vigilant.

Emergency Changes: Changes to your environment should not be considered an ‘emergency’ just because the requestor did not plan appropriately. Emergency Changes typically do not receive the same level of scrutiny beforehand due to the immediate urgency to deploy and, therefore, increase the risk of causing an outage. Make sure you scrutinize every emergency change and watch for trends of who is submitting them.
Real world example of how emergency cab works…and what types of things cause emergency changes and who are the people involved usually

Standard Changes: Standard/Preapproved Changes are a great way to keep your organization running efficiently without burdening it with unneeded restriction and hurdles. Start labeling every Change as ‘Standard/Preapproved,’ however, without having fully vetted them for frequency, historical success rates and acceptable risks, and you’ll find yourself with outage rates, as a result of Changes, rising to unacceptable levels.

Extreme Control: Change Control Governance is important to keep an organization from making modifications to vital systems at inopportune times. In some cases, Change Management leaders decide to go to extremes with their levels of control, so as to try and ‘keep the organization safe.’ The problem is, however, that Change to the environment does need to occur for the organization to operate. Implementing too rigorous of a Change Management process could bring the company to a standstill, which is equally as bad as an outage. In both cases, the organization is not operating to peak level. Another element of extreme control that will most assuredly occur is circumvention of the process. If a process is perceived to be too burdensome, then people will seek ways to avoid and/or circumvent it. Nether result is acceptable.

Confrontation: We are all human and we want to be liked. Few people, besides lawyers, typically enjoy confrontation and arguments. So, when implementing Change Management, it is tempting to scope it in a manner that allows those individuals who are more confrontational to be exempt from the governance that is being implemented. In many cases, the confrontation is intentionally targeted so as to avoid rules and regulations. Don’t back down; define and communicate your policies, process and procedures and stick to them. You need to lasso the cowboys.

Failing to implement Change Management is the biggest pitfall you are apt to encounter. Understand your goals and motives, communicate them and the rest should fall into place on its own. Start this journey of implementing Change Management with the confidence that you will have a positive impact on the business outcomes of your organization. Use common sense when determining level of control, so as to avoid being too extreme. Engage those who confront you and have them help define a workable process. Start slow with Standard changes based on gathered metrics for those that have been historically proven to succeed. Don’t panic when presented with Emergency Changes; define and communicate clear criteria for what is an Emergency Change and you will successfully complete it.

So, yes, there are pitfalls that you could and will likely face, but just take your time, map your strategy, stick to your principles and where necessary accommodate with flexibility. You’ll experience a positive outcome if your actions are centered on enabling your organization to grow and deliver better services and products to its consumers. Your Change Management efforts are directly attributable to the quality that your organization delivers to its consumers and users.

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Carlos Casanova is an internationally known speaker, IT architect, leadership advisor and the co-author of “The CMDB Imperative”. He has over two decades of hands on experience guiding CIOs and Sr. Leadership to achieve effective IT operations and improve ROI from infrastructure investments. His expansive experience enables him to quickly assess their true needs and achieve better business outcomes. He takes the complexity out of today's cluttered IT and business environments to simplify their goals in order to accelerate achievement and success.