Change Management Best Practices and Tips

Understanding and implementing change management best practices for effective incident resolution.

Change Management Best Practices Infographics


Change management is an ITIL process that aims at bringing changes to IT services while keeping the service delivery stable and reliable. Changing a system can be highly challenging as it often causes interruptions to operations. This makes effective change management a critical task. For example, making changes might require shutting down the system, which might result in reputational risks and lower customer satisfaction. In this article, we have collected change management best practices that will guide you in establishing this process in your organization. We aimed to elaborate further on the typical steps of the change management lifecycle that we previously outlined. In addition, we wanted to make ITIL’s recommendations easier to apply to your specific organizational environment.

Here is our list of change management best practices and tips:

  1. Develop a change management process and strive to adhere to it,
  2. Adapt to the company’s risk appetite,
  3. Measure results on the way and at the end,
  4. Take advantage of collaboration tools,
  5. Classify change requests to spend resources efficiently,
  6. Market the changes,
  7. Learn by analyzing the change results.

Develop a change management process and strive to adhere to it

The backbone of the change management process is a well-structured, transparent, and repeatable change management process. Developing an effective change management lifecycle allows organizations to more consciously approach changes to their IT infrastructure and take into account potential risks and problems. The lifecycle typically consists of the following steps:

  • change request creation,
  • change assessment,
  • change planning,
  • change implementation,
  • change review,
  • and closure.

Using change management software is particularly helpful in organizing and streamlining each stage of the change management process. It helps ensure a more systematic and transparent approach to managing changes, minimizes risks, and speeds up recovery time after possible failures.

Adapt to the company’s risk appetite

Every change, by its definition, may bring potential risks for the reliability and quality of the IT services involved. If you prioritize the rapid implementation of a change, you may deliberately take calculated risks. This is what happens when you implement an emergency change. Every organization has its level of risk tolerance, depending on its size, industry, and management style. For example, for a financial institution, a failed change to the corporate website may not have severe consequences. However, an e-commerce company may have a lower risk tolerance here because its revenue directly depends on how well the website performs. One of the change management best practices is to always keep in mind the risk profile of the stakeholders and how far they can go in implementing risky changes. Understanding this will help suggest the relevant assessment procedures and combat change resistance.

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Take advantage of collaboration tools

As we mentioned earlier, a body called the Change Advisory Board (CAB) takes on most of the change impact and risk assessment measures. Ensuring that the CAB members can collaborate freely throughout the process is vital. You can make the life of CAB members easier by introducing:

  • Mechanisms for one-click approvals,
  • Automated approval reminders,
  • Integration of the configuration items map to illustrate the impact of the change,
  • A visual indicator of the change request progress helping the stakeholder get up to speed quickly,
  • Change calendar,
  • And other intelligent change management tools.

Other potential stakeholders who don’t participate in the assessment process also benefit from regular updates on the change request progress. This will help them prepare for possible system downtimes and allocate resources efficiently.

Classify change requests to spend resources efficiently

In our article about the definition of change management, we described the three main types of changes according to ITIL. These are standard changes, normal changes, and emergency changes. One of the key change management best practices is establishing a system that treats these three types of changes separately. Then, try to standardize changes wherever possible. We’ll now explain it in more detail.

Standard, emergency, and normal changes

Standard changes are routine and low-risk modifications necessary to maintain expected IT service delivery. These include such modifications as updating access permissions when a new employee joins and resetting passwords. Emergency changes, on the other hand, are required when something immediately damages the IT system or threatens to do so. Finally, normal changes are any unusual, non-regular changes that aren’t critical for the operation of the IT system.

More standard changes for success

The cool thing about standard changes is that they can primarily be pre-approved. For example, the procedure for resetting an employee’s password is always the same. If a help desk representative does it manually, they will go through the same steps every time. They will request standard data every time, such as the employee’s email and security level, and you can easily let a pre-configured mechanism fulfill the task. In this case, the employee can request the change via the self-service portal and have it fulfilled automatically. One of the best practices in change management is increasing the percentage of the change requests fulfilled through the “standard change” procedure. You can analyze the most frequent change requests and determine ways to automate their implementation. The more requests you can fulfill automatically, the less intense the workload of your change management team.

Market the changes

Research and real-life evidence suggest that businesses benefit from a culture of continuous improvement. Organizations can save costs by continually looking for opportunities to optimize and become more adaptable to the market and their customers’ tastes. However, unfortunately, people are naturally prone to retain the status quo. That is why the employees involved in change assessment and planning may unconsciously sabotage it. You’ll have to go the extra mile to create a culture where changes are celebrated. If your team has not yet embraced this culture, one of the ways to overcome this resistance is to consider changes as new products that require marketing effort. “Advertise” them, illustrate the expected positive impact, and appeal to the stakeholders’ values to gain their buy-in.

Learn by analyzing the change results

When starting the change management process in your organization, pay more attention to the change review after its implementation. It is relevant both for the result of the change (was the goal achieved? Which of the risks were realized? Were there any unexpected side effects?) and the change lifecycle (were there any bottlenecks? Which stages presented them?). While relying on the flexible ITIL recommendations, learning by doing is the best approach for introducing change management practices in a company.

Change management is challenging because, apart from positive results, it may cause IT service downtime. However, this is an essential ITSM process, and implementing it will pay off in better IT services. Incorporate these change management best practices and tips into your organization’s IT strategy to drive innovation, maintain operational stability, and foster long-term success. Additionally, using consider Alloy Navigator as your change management software provider. The software includes an extensive platform focusing on IT service management, IT asset management, and network inventory. The product is highly flexible, making Alloy Navigator a good fit for organizations of various sizes and types.

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