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How to Implement Effective ITIL Change Management for Cloud

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Business need to be able to effect rapid change without disrupting the services they offer to users and customers.

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) change management refers to a set of guidelines and processes for managing changes in IT services. The guidelines allow businesses to make changes without affecting the customer’s experience. They not only reduce the chances of implementing changes without direction, but also allow IT professionals to prioritize changes according to the needs of the business. This is particularly important for companies running on cloud infrastructures because change happens all time.

It’s important to understand that ITIL isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to implementing change management. Most companies will modify the processes and policies to fit their frameworks and infrastructures. In this article, I’ll explain some of the ways in which you can implement effective ITIL change management for your cloud infrastructure today.

What Is the Goal of ITIL Change Management?

The primary goal of ITIL change management is to enable companies to change rapidly without disrupting the services they offer to users and customers. Companies often propose change based on strategic organizational goals, which means that there’s usually a formal process that has to be followed before a change can be approved.

By implementing ITIL, your company will be able to assess the benefits, risks, and impacts of all changes in the IT system. You’ll also be able to prioritize changes and allocate resources efficiently. And if your deployment fails, you’ll be able to turn to ITIL to ensure you can restore the state of your environment to a functional state.

Managing an Efficient ITIL Change Management Process

When implementing IT change management, there are different approaches you can follow to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible:

Standard Changes

These changes depend on the procedures and policies already set by the company. Standard changes are used in situations where the risks of implementing a change are known. They are easy to apply and prioritize because they don't usually require risk-management approval.

Normal Changes

These types of changes require a detailed process before they are implemented and approved. If a change is considered very risky, then a change advisory board will need to decide whether it should be applied or not.

Emergency Changes

These refer to the changes that happen when an error or a security threat happens to the company’s infrastructure. These changes need to happen quickly and must be approved by the Emergency Change Advisory Board, or ECAB.  

Change Management Roles

Before implementing ITIL in your organizations, you need to consider creating the following roles in your organization:

Change Initiator

A change initiator is a person who identifies and suggests a change. This person is usually involved in working directly with users and customers and frequently interacts with support service tools.

Change Coordinator

The change coordinator is the person who suggests changes across the entire software development lifecycle. The role of this individual is to determine the risks and impacts of requested changes, develop implementation plans, and monitor the changes once implemented.

Change Manager

Many large organizations will need to assign a person or a group of individuals as a change manager. A change manager is responsible for keeping an extensive record of the result of each change, forming the ECAB during emergencies, and managing all the procedures related to implementing a new change.

Change Advisory Board

The change advisory board’s main responsibility is to evaluate changes that are marked as high risk by the change manager. Furthermore, they are also responsible for authorizing changes and helping the change manager in change scheduling and prioritization. The change advisory board will usually schedule meetings to determine how to move forward with high-risk changes.

Approver

The approver has the final say on what changes get approved or rejected.

Change Implementation Team

IT managers are often responsible for overseeing changes. However, they are also usually part of the change implementation team, which includes all the specialists responsible for making all the proposed changes.

ITIL Change Management Procedures

The change management process varies depending on the type of IT changes and risk levels. However, the general process for can be broken down into following steps:

Requesting Change Review

Change coordinators use this procedure as soon as they start dealing with requests for change.

Change Planning

During the change planning phase, change specialists and coordinators develop an in-depth implementation plan for all the changes.

Change Approval

The change manager and approvers then approve the proposed changes set by the change coordinators.

Change Implementation

Specialists implement the infrastructure changes after the approval of a change.

Change Closure

After successfully applying and testing changes, the change coordinators close out the changes and employ them into the infrastructure.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) You Should Track

Tracking the progress of your IT change management process is key to minimizing risk and increasing the performance of your infrastructure. Below is a list of KPIs you should always track:

Backlog of Changes

This refers to the number of changes that must be completed. The number varies according to the size of the organization and/or the project, but it shouldn’t increase over time.

Successful Changes

This is the ratio of successfully completed changes and the total number of completed changes. As a result, the higher the percentage, the better.

Emergency Changes

This refers to the number of emergency changes that were completed by a business. The number shouldn’t increase over time.

Requirements for Effective Change Management in the Cloud

When implementing ITIL change management in your cloud environment, it’s important that you consider the two factors below:

Infrastructure Delta

The biggest benefit of moving to the cloud is the ability to scale your infrastructure up and down based on your needs. This process is known as auto scaling. And although it’s very useful for launching resources based on specific metrics, it makes it hard to implement change management. After all, how do you track changes in your infrastructure if new resources keep appearing and disappearing? To get a clear picture of your changes on the cloud, you need an infrastructure, which gives you updates on your running resources for a particular time frame.

Define the Ideal Infrastructure

Once you’ve moved into the cloud, you’ll need to set the appearance of your ideal infrastructure. For instance, you could add tags for each of your resources and set up real-time alerts whenever someone launches a resource that violates your policy. It’s usually a good idea to add Terraform to each resource tag so you can see who launched the resource, the name of the resource, the policy it violates, and the environment the resources belong to.

Leveraging Change Management Tools

If you’re currently using a cloud service to manage your infrastructure, then you should automate the change management process as much as possible. With a tool like nOps, you can review all the newly introduced resources, whether they’re changes or documents, and accurately track the impact of each change. Other popular change management tools include Puppet, Chef, and Docker.

How do you currently manage change in your organization? Share your tools and strategies in the Comments below. 

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