Using a Change Management Strategy to Decrease Errors in your Technical Environment
by Bill Miller
Brighton Business Review
Reducing errors made during technical projects is a key metric that leads to project success.
Eliminating errors doesn't happen by chance and takes an effective change management process
and approach. Successful changes are a cornerstone of any successful organization. Even the smallest
change can cause huge ramifications if they aren't properly vetted by technical resources and process
review red teams. This happened to me once on a small change that was made to our network environment.
It started out as a small single unit of change. We were adding one line to a logon script that would
capture some information about the users computer. My team was going to use the research produced by the
system to break up work into an organizational structure. This was going to help us streamline the
allocation of people and processes moving forward on our systems. Gaining an understanding of our system
was seen as a big competitive advantage at the time. The script ran automatically when the client logged
into the network and only took about one minute to run. The data would be copied to a network drive so we
could compile and present the information to our management team. We had run a process like this many times
before so we didn't anticipate any problems. I didn't take this update through the change control process
because I didn't see a need for change control in this instance.
Monday morning rolled around and the data started pouring in to our network share and I was excited about
all of the data that was being captured. What I didn't know was that at the same time trouble ticket were
quickly rolling into the help desk as well. The capture of the data was being sent to a network drive and
to connect to that drive I had specified a parameter, a parameter that I didn't think was used. If I had
used the change process I would have found out that the parameter was used, in fact it was used by over 700
of the users.
I had taken down half of the building. The call center couldn't log their tickets, and the engineering department
had no way to call up any of their design documents and drawings. Luckily no data was lost and it was quick
to restore service to the users, they simply had to reboot their machine after I removed the offending line
in their login script.
The real problem was the credibility we lost with our customer. They questioned how we could of put an
untested change into a production environment and why there was no review. It was unmitigated disaster.
A years worth of hard work and using best practices in managing change had been thrown into the trash. I
quickly learned the impact of effective change and non-effective change. Some of the things I learned from
Always Have a Change Management Plan: An effective change plan is your first defense in avoiding a change
disaster. It will also help identify the need for change. You may not even need to do the change when you
get input from all interested parties.
Implement Change Management Best Practices: Other organizations have probably implemented the same or similar
change that you are trying to perform. Leverage their change process and learn from their mistakes.
Learn the best practices of your business and any competitors to deliver the best service you can.
Have a Clear Change Management Strategy: Your organization should have regularly scheduled change management
meetings. Develop a process around your change that includes managerial, technical, and any other resources
that you deem appropriate.
Include the Use of Change Management Tools: There are many tools designed to help manage your change environment.
They come in various configurations and prices run the gamut from cheap to expensive. You don't have
to have anything fancy, especially if you aren't doing change control at the current time. Use a
spreadsheet to track your changes if necessary, just make sure you document your changes in some way.
Start a Change Management Training Program: If your organization isn't familiar with using a
change control process it will take some training to implement an effective change process. Look to
other organizations within your company that may already have the expertise you're looking for.
If you can't find any you may need to bring in an outside consultant or sign up for classes at a private
Setting up a change management strategy is a vital key to the success of your organization.
Pulling all the levers of change management is not difficult to do but it does take some time
to set up. Some employees may put up some resistance but don't make the same mistakes I did and
think that small changes don't need to go through the regular process. Even a small change can
have a major impact on your client and production environments. Don't leave the health of your
company to chance.