Saturday, March 3, 2007

Change management

The first question I ask a team when something breaks is what changed ?. 99% of problems end up relating to change. Amazing !!

I did not put change as the top problem within my post on what keeps me busy because I believe that change is good. It is necessary and as inevitable as evolution. It is necessary for healthy growth. So IT cannot take the simplistic approach of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it!'.

Any decent sized telco typically has an IT estate of 3000+ systems, 50K+ computing assets and 10K+ people all changing stuff. Is it any surprise that systems availability & stability actually goes up during christmas ?

What is key to establishing a high performance IT organization is managing change effectively. It is instrumental to have a proper inventory of systems, more importantly, their inter-dependencies and impact on business process. Most importantly, a team that understands this model.

While end-to-end testing frameworks can flesh out unexpected side-effects of change, it isn't reasonable to expect that all work will go through this framework. With 10K+ employees, there will be leakage and impact. Specifically around stuff that you would least suspect.

Proper and effective change management framework would consist of the following :
  • A team as described above that performs the function of a change approval board (centralized or decentralized)
  • An e2e testing framework that certifies each change
  • An effective communication framework typically a change ticket process that notifies the relevant enterprise pieces that are potentially impacted by the change
  • Leadership & support from the development teams on implementing change.
  • Post-implementation verification of change (ideally monitoring key business KPIs before and after the change).

Milan Gupta

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