Change Control process explained
Change control: This article explains change control in a practical way. The article begins with the definition and general explanation of this term, followed by an explanation of why change control in project management is critical to success. You will also find a practical example of a company that follows the process to implement AI in their marketing activities. Enjoy reading!
What is change control?
Change control is a systematic process used to manage modifications to a product or system in a controlled manner. The purpose of this management process is:
- Document all changes
- Avoid unnecessary changes
- Use resources efficiently
- Prevent operational failures
Change control is a critical component of change management, especially in the IT sector and software development. It includes a step-by-step process explained below. Common changes in the IT sector include adding functionality to systems, network upgrades and software installations.
Change control is applied in various industries such as pharmaceutical, software development and engineering. The ultimate goal of change control is to prevent service interruption and outages. In ITIL, different segments are dedicated to change control.
Origin of change control
The concept of change control and change management can be traced back to the early years of quality management and active process optimization methods such as Total Quality Management (TQM) and Six Sigma. These approaches mainly focused on reducing variability and improving process stability. These practices gradually spread to other industries, including the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
Why is change control important?
Changes in project management are inevitable and necessary for success, but can have potentially negative consequences if not managed properly.
Creating a change control process effectively is therefore critical to managing projects and minimizing risk.
Some of the key elements of a change control process are:
- Draw up a change management plan
- Create request forms
- Set up a change control committee
- Create a change request
- Assess the impact of the change
- Approve the request
- Implement the change in accordance with the project schedule / project plan
Using change control or change management software can also help streamline the change control process and improve efficiency, as it usually works with a task list and a change request template.
An integrated change control process can improve communication and collaboration between team members, project managers and stakeholders and ensure that internal or external changes are implemented in a controlled and structured manner.
The change control process
The change control process can be summarized in six steps. These six steps provide users with a structured approach to managing change in products and systems. Each step is crucial to achieving optimal implementation, without disruptions or system downtime.
Step 1: plan / scope
The first step involves identifying and documenting the proposed change, along with the objectives and scope of the change. This step also includes assessing the potential impact of the change and identifying the resources needed to implement it.
- Identify and document the proposed change
- Assess the impact of the change
- Identify the resources needed to implement the change
Step 2: assess / analyze
The second step involves assessing the feasibility of the proposed change and analyzing its impact on the product or system. This step may include a risk assessment and impact analysis to evaluate the potential benefits and risks of the change.
- Assess the feasibility of the proposed change
- Analyze the impact of the change
- Carry out a risk assessment and impact analysis
Step 3: review / approval
The third step involves reviewing the proposed change with stakeholders, including end users, management, control board, and other relevant parties. The goal is to obtain feedback and approval from stakeholders and ensure that the change is aligned with the goals and objectives of the organization.
- Review the proposed change with stakeholders
- Obtain stakeholder feedback and approval
- Ensure that the change is in line with the goals and objectives of the organization
Step 4: build / test
The fourth step involves building and testing the change in a controlled environment, such as a test environment, to ensure it works as intended and does not adversely affect the system. This step can include coding, configuration, and testing activities.
- Build and test the change in a controlled environment
- Make sure the change works as intended
- Prevent negative effects on the system
Step 5: implement
The fifth step involves implementing the change in the production environment, according to a predetermined process and schedule. This step also includes documenting the implementation process and informing stakeholders about the change.
- Implement the change in the production environment
- Follow the predetermined process and schedule
- Document the implementation process and inform stakeholders about the change
Step 6: close
The final step includes closing the change request and performing a post-implementation review. This includes evaluating the effectiveness of the change, identifying any issues or risks encountered during the implementation process, and documenting lessons learned to inform future change control activities.
- Assess the effectiveness of the change
- Identify any issues or risks encountered during the implementation process
- Document lessons learned to inform future change control activities
- Close the change request and store any documentation in an appropriate archive
Example of the change control process
Imagine a company decides to implement AI into their marketing strategy to help their customers make purchase decisions. The change control process would look something like this:
Plan / Scope
The company identifies and documents the necessity and objectives of the change. The scope of the change is determined and the potential impact of the change is assessed. It also looks at the necessary resources and expertise needed to implement the change.
- Determining the objectives of the change
- Determining the scope of the change
- Identifying the potential impact of the change
- Determining the required resources and expertise
Assess / Analyze
The company evaluates the feasibility of the change and the impact on the product or service. A risk analysis and impact analysis is performed to evaluate the potential benefits and risks of the change.
- Carrying out a feasibility analysis
- Carrying out a risk analysis and impact analysis
Review / Approval
The proposed change is discussed with stakeholders, including end users, management and other relevant parties. The goal is to obtain feedback and approval from stakeholders and ensure that the change aligns with the organization’s objectives and goals.
- Discussing the proposed change with stakeholders
- Obtaining feedback and approval
Build / Test
Once the change request is approved, the company builds and tests the change in a controlled environment to ensure it works as intended and does not adversely affect the system. This may include coding, configuration, and testing activities.
- Building the change
- Testing the change in a controlled environment
The change is implemented in the production environment according to a predetermined process and schedule. This includes documenting the implementation process and informing stakeholders about the change.
- Implementing the change in the production environment
- Documenting the implementation process
- Informing stakeholders about the change
The company closes the change request and conducts a post-implementation review. This includes evaluating the effectiveness of the change, identifying any issues or risks encountered during the implementation process, and documenting lessons learned to inform future change control activities.
- Closing the change request
- Evaluating the effectiveness of the change
- Identifying any problems
Now it’s your turn
What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about change control? Do you work with change control in your work environment? What was your experience with this process? What steps does your organization take to ensure that changes are implemented efficiently? Do you have tips or other comments?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
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- Hiatt, J., & Creasey, T. J. (2003). Change management: The people side of change. Prosci.
- Price, A. D., & Chahal, K. (2006). A strategic framework for change management. Construction management and economics, 24(3), 237-251.
- Sahibudin, S., Sharifi, M., & Ayat, M. (2008, May). Combining ITIL, COBIT and ISO/IEC 27002 in order to design a comprehensive IT framework in organizations. In 2008 Second Asia International Conference on Modelling & Simulation (AMS) (pp. 749-753). IEEE.
How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2023). Change control. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/change-management/change-control-process/
Original publication date: 06/12/2023 | Last update: 06/12/2023
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