Some days, social media seems nothing more than a blur of easily forgettable memes. Yet certain memes keep reappearing to the point where we have no choice but to remember them. Remember the one that displays various images of oceans or forests or mountains with the words “Relax. Nothing Is Under Control”? I do.
Wise words, if you’re on vacation and actually relaxing near an ocean, forest, or mountain. Yet they don’t necessarily apply to the day-to-day world of IT administration and management, particularly when undergoing a system implementation or upgrade. IT directors and staff must have at least some control. One of the best ways to do that, and keep IT chaos at bay, is to apply the change control process.
The Core of Change Control
Before we go any further, let’s clarify one thing: Change control is not change management, the general management of change and development within an organization. Change control refers to the systematic approach of handling midstream changes made during the course of an organization’s project, such as during a new system implementation.
In the world of local government, midstream IT project changes occur both suddenly and regularly due to a variety of factors, including new regulations, modifications to project scope, schedule, budget, and funding. Because many government departments use integrated systems to share data, these changes can have unintended downstream effects, including decreased productivity and revenue, and increased frustration and cost — especially if other departments within the organization don’t know what is going on.
At its core, change control helps you communicate and make decisions to avoid midstream project changes being made in a “vacuum.” It also helps ensure approval from all departments affected by the changes.
When to Use the Change Control Process
There are many types of changes that require change control. These include:
• Billing changes
• Mandate changes
• Operational changes
• Compliance changes
• System interface changes
• Quality assurance changes
• Changes dictated by grants
• Revenue management changes
• Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) changes
• Changes dictated by external agency requests
• Electronic Health Records (EHR) or Electronic Resource Planning (ERP) program changes
You can also create an expedited process for time-sensitive changes, based on your organization’s unique needs.
How to Use the Change Control Process
The change control process generally consists of three phases:
1. Change Request: An individual who wants to make a change to an ongoing project completes a Change Control Request Form. The individual should provide the following information to their supervisor or director, who then determines whether or not to consider the change:
|•||The due date of the requested change|
|•||The affected business lead, if known|
|•||The description of the requested change|
|•||The justification/benefit of the requested change|
|•||The impact of not implementing the requested change|
|•||Individual(s) who need to be notified and/or trained|
2. Change Review: If the supervisor approves the change, a governing entity (the Change Control Board, or CCB) reviews the Change Control Request Form. The CCB either approves or declines the proposed change.
3. Change Response: The CCB informs the requestor of its decision. If the request is approved, the requestor completes a Change Control Implementation Plan. Next, the requestor submits the completed Change Implementation Plan to their supervisor or director for review. Once the supervisor or director approves the Change Control Implementation Plan, they email the approval to both the requestor and a representative of the CCB.
The Benefits of Change Control
The benefits of change control are many. Change control:
|•||Ensures that midstream changes to IT systems and operations are vetted by all stakeholders|
|•||Provides opportunities for ongoing business process improvement and staff development|
|•||Improves training and communication|
|•||Helps avoid unnecessary changes that can disrupt services|
|•||Improves resource efficiency|
Ultimately, each midstream project change — especially an IT project change — is a bit of a journey. With the change control process, the journey can feel more like a walk on the beach. This blog provides a simple summary of the process, as there are many other things to consider when implementing. But relax: It’s all under control! Contact me to see how we can help your organization adopt this vital process.