ITIL Change Management

IT and technology innovation leads to new changes within the organization. To remain competitive, it is crucial for businesses to adapt faster to the changing trends. However, it is important to not interrupt the current working state while implementing these changes. ITIL Change management helps businesses to deploy new changes without any disruption or downtime. ITIL change management follows a standard operating procedure to eliminate any unintended interruptions and includes change assessment, planning and approval.

Change management process is a gatekeeper which ensures minimum risk and impact to the ongoing Infrastructure & Operations. Change management includes pre-release activities such as roll out, back out planning and scheduling of changes. It performs quality control checks to ensure change and release activities are as per planned.


The primary objective of ITIL Change management is to mitigate risk and impact. Change management does the authorization to approve any change to be deployed. It protects the production environment while executing a new change. Following are the objectives of ITIL Change management process.

Scenarios where ITIL Change Management is used:

Change Management Process Flow

ITIL Change management process includes different steps that capture every detail about a change request for future tracking. These processes ensure that the change is validated and tested before it moves to deployment. Release management process is responsible for successful deployment. Change Manager handles planning & evaluation whereas Release Manager takes care of the actual implementation of the change. The change management process flow looks something like this:

Request for Change

Request For Change (RFC) is submitted to the change management team for validation and approval. Change requests occur from one of the following sources.

An RFC template is used to record the change
Change Assessment and Planning

This stage handles change evaluation and planning activities. It includes prioritization and planning activities to minimize risk and impact.

Change approvals

Any change request that comes in, needs to be approved. The Change management team handles end to end communication and approvals from Change Advisory Board (CAB). Change approval is crucial to eliminate any execution failure and downtime. Approval process varies according to the change type. For example, a major change like ERP solution replacement requires approval from CAB as well as management whereas a standard change like patch deployment does not require any CAB approval as they are pre-approved. Change request is approved only if all the CAB members approve it. Upon rejection, reassessment review is done and submitted again for CAB approval.

Change implementation

Change implementation is handled by Release management team and Post Implementation Review (PIR) is taken care of, by the Change management team. Release management team follows their own processes that involve planning and testing. Change review happens once the implementation is completed to ensure everything has gone according to the plan The existing change management process is constantly reviewed and updated wherever necessary.

Integration with other ITIL modules

Change management is closely associated with ITIL modules such as incident management, problem management, release management and CMDB to share updates. This association is essential to maintain information consistency.

Change Management & CMDB

Change management might involve changes to Configuration Items (CIs) that are part of Configuration Management Database,CMDB. CMDB manages relationships across devices and Change management process understands this relationship and impact before rolling out any new deployment. If a particular asset has multiple dependencies or relationships with other assets, then the impact is high. Associate the right CIs, that might be impacted due to the change or caused the change to occur and update this information within the CMDB.

Change & Release Management

The main objective of Change management process is to ensure that the planned change is under control and release management takes care of the actual implementation of planned changes. It is crucial to differentiate the roles & responsibilities of change and release management to avoid any conflict. Successful change leads to new release and change management coordinates with release for build, test and implementation plan.

GateKeeper - protects the production environment while assessing the release plan   Doer - Builds, tests and deploys changes as a whole or in batch
  Pre and post deployment activities   Deployment activities
  Change schedule/ Forward Schedule change, FSC   Long-term release windows
  Not all changes result in a release   All releases involve one or many changes
  Quality control point   Packaging of approved changes
  Authorization process Implementation process
Strategic level Operational level
  Post Implementation review, PIR Version control
Change & Incident management

Incidents are directly linked to a change when there is a need to roll out new implementations. For example, The IT team identifies that the recurring WiFi issues are due to a faulty router. In this case, the team replaces the old router with a new one through ITIL Change management process. If the root cause is unknown, then incident is linked to a problem to perform Root Cause Analysis (RCA). The goal of incident management is to restore services as soon as possible and change management finds out a permanent solution. End users report an Incident which may be converted to a change record, handled by change management team.

Implementation Checklist

Change management is closely associated with ITIL modules such as incident management, problem management, release management and CMDB to share updates. This association is essential to maintain information consistency.

  • Define change process and share it with internal teams
  • Define change workflows to automate change processes
  • Include members from Release team in CAB approval
  • Communicate clear roles and responsibilities to every CAB member
  • Use change templates to pre-fill standard changes thus saving time
  • Define success factors and KPIs for Change Management. i.e. change executed successfully vs failed changes
  • Continuous review is crucial to improve change management process outcome

Change management, as a process is crucial for businesses to have a quality check and deploy new changes seamlessly. While changes are inevitable, it is important to streamline this process with a predefined process. Effective change management results in risk reduction, cost optimization and faster time to market.

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