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Managing Changes in Information Technology

OIT has established a formal change request/approval process

By Ben Neeser

August 10, 2010

"Change Management" is the name of the new formal request and approval approach that the Office of Information Technology (OIT) uses to manage changes to the IT environment at the University of Minnesota. It involves thousands of servers, software applications, databases, pieces of networking and telecommunications equipment, and facility infrastructure.

Changes include code/software upgrades, hardware upgrades, or maintenance activity. By employing a structured approach, OIT can ensure that all changes are efficiently handled, minimizing the impact on faculty, staff, and students.

To introduce the approach, OIT has established a change approval board (CAB) and a change manager to oversee change requests. CAB members include IT directors from colleges and departments across campus. It's part of a continuing effort to increase service quality while creating a number of savings opportunities, as recently detailed in "Collaboration is the key to IT."

Since the CAB convened in April 2010, it has reviewed 179 change requests. And although all but four requests have been approved, the CAB has requested a number of changes to scheduled times and dates in order to lower the risk to business operations.

As the CAB looks forward, it hopes to reduce the number of change requests that it reviews by delivering bundled changes whenever possible.

Change protocol
Any change that is expected to impact service or carries risk is subject to review by the CAB. When OIT staff wish to make a change, they must first fill out a Request for Change (RFC), which requires them to provide such information as the reason for the change, the reason for the timeframe selected, the risk analysis, and the communication plan for the change.

The RFC is to be completed two weeks before the change is scheduled to occur. The CAB reviews RFCs in weekly meetings and makes recommendations to accept and implement, or reject the RFC. Recommendations are based on impact to existing services, timing, and other relevant factors.

Not all changes will be reviewed by the CAB. The following types of changes are not subject to CAB review:
•    Normal provisioning and maintenance items that are documented in the service statements
•    Changes that have an established process, carry limited risk, and are documented in the service statements
•    Non-Enterprise changes
•    Changes to "development" and "test" environments
•    Changes that are performed daily for customer requests
•    Operational activities, such as repair, that are not optional

Learn about upcoming changes
A Change Calendar lists the scheduled maintenance and summarizes all planned changes to OIT systems and services. OIT staff can use this tool to stay abreast of scheduled outages, as well as to learn about changes to OIT services.

There may sometimes be a need to perform work outside of the standard change window. Please refer to the service statements for further definition of standing maintenance windows and service hours.

Finally, if you ever want to check the status of a system or application, check the System Status page.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about the OIT change management process, please email integrated change control.

For more information, see the change management website.