This new process will help raise awareness within LIS about the dependencies that exist between different services, and will help to prevent service outages and avoidable problems through careful planning and testing prior to changes being made.
The change management process begins with a written document that asks the LIS person/workgroup/area responsible for the proposed change to detail the specifics of the proposal. The worksheet includes the following questions:
- What service is being proposed for change/upgrade? What dependent systems might also be affected by this proposal?
- Why is this change/upgrade being proposed? What are the reasons for doing this?
- When would this proposed change/upgrade take place? How was the timing for the change/upgrade arrived at? Who was consulted regarding the timing of the proposed change/upgrade?
- Who would be affected by this upgrade (functional offices, alumni, parents, students, etc. and others within LIS) What will be different with regard to the end-user experience after this proposed change/upgrade?
- Are there any risks associated with this change/upgrade? What are they? How can they be mitigated/avoided?
- What is the technical contingency plan, in case the proposed change/upgrade does not go as planned? Who will need to be involved in the execution of the technical contingency plan, and in what capacity?
- What is the communications contingency plan, in case the proposed change/upgrade does not go as planned? Who will need to be involved in the execution of the communication contingency plan, and in what capacity?
- What testing will be done in advance of this proposed change/upgrade? Who will perform this testing and how will the testing results be shared? What testing will be done post-change/upgrade? Who will perform this testing and how will the testing results be shared?
- Create a checklist of steps to be taken to execute this proposed change/upgrade. This checklist must include the technical steps that will be taken during the change/upgrade process, as well as the overall communications plan.
Once the worksheet has been completed, the relevant Area Director will review the proposal. At this point, the proposal can either be approved, or if the Area Director believes broader consultation is required, then the LIS Administration will review the proposal, prior to any change taking place. LIS Administration may request additional details and/or information to help inform the decision-making process about the proposed change/upgrade. Only when LIS Administration is satisfied that the proposed change/upgrade has been appropriately documented, planned, and approved, will a proposal move forward.
While a more formal change management process has the potential to slow down changes being made to production services, LIS feels strongly that this is preferable to unplanned and unannounced downtime of services which can cause larger problems for our community. We have been using this new process for the past few months, and plan to tweak the process as we learn more about how to balance the competing demands to be nimble and to be careful. We welcome comments on what we can do to strike the right balance, and how we can make the process as effective as possible.