How to Do Change Management Right: The Process


by Anthony Orr
August 24, 2017

ITIL® references four Ps related to its framework: People, Process, Products, and Partners. These Ps represent a relationship between entities that work together to deliver the best practice capabilities. People, process, products, and partners all play a part in a solution for service delivery and support.

Many people think of ITIL as a best practice that focuses entirely on processes, but it is also much more than the four Ps. ITIL is a best practice for IT service management; the key word here is “service,” not “process.” The four Ps and other elements make up components for managing services, using IT, to support business outcomes.

In this three-part series, I’ll discuss a particular process in ITIL, change management. In this first part, I discuss how process affects change management. In subsequent blogs, I’ll discuss how people, process activities, and the framework affect the dynamics of change management within ITIL.

To design this process, organizations need to understand two key aspects:

  1. Process model components
  2. Process coordination and collaboration specialization

A process model consists of the following key aspects:

  • Inputs or triggers to start the process. An input can come from another process’s output to start the process. This creates a value chain between one process and another for the service being delivered or supported.
  • Process enablers. Enablers are assets, which are defined as capabilities and resources. People are both a capability and resource that can enable a process.
  • Process controls. Controls include the four Ps, but also governance, communication plans, policies, documentation, process owner, objectives, and feedback.
  • A process. A process consists of activities, procedures, work instructions, metrics, roles, and improvements.
  • Process outputs. Output can be used in other processes or can be the end point for delivery of a service. If used for another process, it is important that the output is coordinated with the receiving process to assure data accuracy and consistency for the next process decisions and usage.

Each ITIL process has an objective that is performed by expert roles and/or can have people tasks/activities automated with technology. When you are designing a process, it is important to understand organizational capabilities (people, knowledge, organization structure, management governance, and other unique deliverables) available within other areas of the organization and their associated roles or responsibilities for leveraging and coordinating needed capabilities in your process.

When designing process, organizations might ignore other specialized process areas, and when executing their process, might work in a shadow IT manner. This manner can have negative effects on overall service value. Organizations should instead work as a team in a coordinated and collaborative fashion through process design and execution noting to pay special attention to process controls.

Creating a cohesive change management process begins with first understanding the objectives of change management related to the goals of the business, its relationship with other service transition process areas, and ultimately the entire service lifecycle. Improving your current change management process begins with understanding the process itself and your current capabilities and relating improvements to constraints with careful considerations for managing the scope of improvements.

A cohesive change management process begins with understanding the goals of the business.
Tweet: A cohesive change management process begins with understanding the goals of the business. @AnthonyOrr @ThinkHDI

The change management process should be designed as such:

  • Inputs or trigger. An input can be a request for change (RFC) or a change proposal, a trigger can be time based such as “start of yearly planning cycle.” This is used to create the initial change record in the ITSM technology that you are using.
  • Process enablers. RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model for governance of roles and responsibilities. These are roles, such as change manager, change advisory board, and process owner, that need to be defined in the change management process. Additionally, other enablers such as budget, capabilities, and resources need to be defined.
  • Process. Key activities include detect, categorize, prioritize, approve for build/test (release management process coordination to execute build/test), approve for implementation (deployment management process coordination to execute implementation), post implementation review (coordination with various stakeholders). Create formal procedures, work instructions, etc.
  • Process controls. Create a process policy for executive buy-in of process, especially for roles and responsibilities. Remember the other aspects, and apply them to this process.
  • Process output. New/changed/retired service for service operation.


Change management success in process design and execution depends on a number of factors. Here is a list of some of the do’s and don’ts for design and execution of change management:

  • DON’T design process in a silo without taking advantage of specialized capabilities of other process areas.
  • DON’T think of change management as just a change approval process. This process is about managing the lifecycle of a change from end to end.
  • DO understand technology capabilities as you design process so that you know where manual activities occur and any technology integrations that need to be built.
  • DO train all employees in all roles on their responsibilities and ask for feedback to improve.
  • DO visualize the process. Simulate various change scenarios for standard, normal, and emergency changes. High performing organizations use visualization exercises for agility and cross communication excellence.
  • DO outline process controls for managing conflict within the organization and encouraging collaboration.
  • DO make sure employees understand how this process reduces risk within the organization and, as such, should not be thought of as bureaucratic and performance hindering.

Setting up successful change management begins with understanding the reasoning behind each step/activity. Next, understand your culture and where you may see challenges for change. Address the culture challenges. Then, design an overall adoption approach that includes aspects of the four Ps, communication, and governance. The final step is execution of the process and continual improvement.


Anthony Orr is the ITSM Best Practice Director at Samanage, the service success company. He has more than 30 years of experience in various IT strategy, managerial, consulting, and advisory positions. He is also one of the authors of ITIL® Lifecycle Suite, 2011 Edition , author of Passing Your ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle Exam Book , and other publications (i.e., videos, webinars, podcasts, whitepapers, etc.) as well as a senior examiner for ITIL v2 and v3 and Cyber Resiience certification examinations. He is a regular speaker at ITSM industry global events and has spoken at universities around the world on numerous service management topics. Follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyOrr and connect with him on LinkedIn.


Tag(s): supportworld, ITIL, IT service management, service management, change management, process

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