Change request pre-vetting

Peter Strempel

The example outlined here follows on from the change architecture illustrated on my change management basics page.

In smaller organisations, much of the work indicated in the diagram below might fall to only one or two people interacting without formal structures. In larger organisations the web of responsibilities and interactions might be a great deal more complex. In both cases, however, what really matters is that any change is planned rather than ad hoc, and that it is managed to keep it on target for intended outcomes.

Organisations large or small should also maintain a focus on keeping change management processes and resources lean. Often textbook advice and methods derived from for-profit accreditation training programmes assume needlessly bureaucratic and costly administrative overheads.

My experience tells me that even in highly regulated environments, the costs cascading from for-profit management models deserve close scrutiny.

The generic model illustrated in Figure 3 below is designed to work on bare-bones resources as much as scale to the most complicated needs.

Change Pre-Vetting
FIGURE 1: change pre-vetting stages are simple and methodical.

The diagram is set out in ‘swim lanes’, showing the different roles taken by the various ‘actors’.

  • The change initiator raises a request for change (RFC) in the required format. This could be a conversation, an email, or a very formal online entry into a change register, as shown in the diagram.
  • Details of the change request, including all progress and associated configuration records for software and hardware, are maintained in a database (relational database management system or RDBMS). In smaller organisations, this ‘database’ might be no more complex than a spreadsheet.
  • The designated change manager plays a pivotal role. Those responsibilities might be split among several people in some organisations, or incorporated into an existing management function in others.
  • The pre-vetting tasks are about checking to see whether the proposed change might run into problems, such as conflicts in scheduling or resource allocations for other work. Usually the RFC is then classified by urgency and type (people, process, systems) before being passed on to the change advisory board (CAB). When I perform pre-vetting I also include documented recommendations on how to proceed.
  • In our example, it is assumed there are service owner(s) responsible for maintaining incident and problem management systems that can be used to identify system and process faults, and possible conflicts with proposed changes.

Each change environment is different, and there can be no one-size-fits-all blueprint to manage change without customising approaches to match specific organisational requirements. But there are some common features.

Figure 2 below, shows some of the tasks that might arise at the pre-vetting stage of change management in most organisations.

Change management matrix
FIGURE 2: many change management tasks might arise from pre-vetting.

The snapshot of pre-vetting presented here should emphasise the importance of planning change carefully rather than rushing into an ad hoc adventure. The example also shows that managing changes is not rocket science, but a few simple ground rules can make all the difference.

Another very important part of change management that can make all the difference between success or costly failures is people: how they will react to change, and how to prepare them for it. I explain my approach to these issues on my separate pages dealing with–

Contact me to discuss your change and transformational management needs.