Configuration Management Change Process Problems

I am always hearing that the change process takes too long. In addition, it appears “Configuration Management” (The “CM” department) is always to blame.

In reality, the blame may lie with the CM process itself, which includes everyone who prepares information, proposes changes, reviews changes, dispositions changes, and implements changes. The following is a partial list of reasons why the change process might take too long.

Form Issues

The change request is not accurate/complete when submitted and needs to be.

The change forms are just too complicated and not user friendly, resulting in rework.

The change review process has only one path (everything has to go through a change board).

Reviewers take too long to review a change and have to be tracked down and reminded to review changes.

Decision makers attend the change board unprepared.

The technical review is incomplete.

Costs are not gathered, or the estimate is in error.

The system/process/work- flow for change management is not automated.

Too many corrective action changes overwhelm the process.

Too many corrective action changes exist because released documentation is not what it should be.

Change Board Issues

Attendees are unprepared.

There are people involved in these reviews that are not necessary.

Impact analysis was incomplete.

Signature Requirements.

There are non-value added signatures required for disposition of the change.

Prioritization Issues:

Everything is urgent.

Resource Issues:

Resources needed to do all the above correctly and implement change tasks are not available.

Personnel state they are too busy to review changes.

Lead Time Issues

Personnel wait until the last minute to write a change, forwarding the change to the CM Department; then complaining that “CM” (the Department) is slowing them down.

Training Issues

Employees are not trained in how the change process works or how to properly fill out the change request and/or implementation plan. As a result, personnel need the CM department to write changes for them, or have the CM Department assist in various aspects of preparing a change, resulting in a bottleneck in the CM department.

Changes to Changes

People do not have the information they need to fully assess the impact of a change, and identify items/documents affected the first time around. This results in changes to changes.

People make revisions to changes to already approved changes without notifying anyone; resulting in delays when the alteration is discovered.

Manual Systems

There is no automated work- flow, or automated forms, associated with the change process. Automation makes a good process move quicker. However, even if there is automation, you will still have the same issues described above if your processes are not what they should be.

The Bottom Line

CM is a cross-functional business process that, if done right, enables everyone to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Everyone needs to understand that if it is too slow, it may not be the fault of “CM” (the department). In fact, the fault usually lies elsewhere. If you are having problems it is time your organization reevaluated the process, and the roles of everyone involved.

Copyright 2010, Steve Easterbrook, CMPIC