In can hardly be disputed that in today’s business environment computer infrastructure is essential to an enterprise. The importance of managing and safeguarding it properly cannot be understated. Haphazard IT management can result in significant losses – and even the failure of the company. The risks may extend to loss of data or even criminal liability.
Everything is in flux, and the only constant is change. The changing technical landscape can be broad and varied: deterioration of equipment, obsolescence of software, new customer requirements, protocol developments, financial considerations. To meet these demands, IT professionals find themselves continually refreshing and revising their enterprise systems. This may involve adding or removing network components, creating solutions or deleting outdated ones, altering specifications or design, or moving systems to a new location. In the common parlance, these are “moves, adds and changes.”
How these changes are approached is critical to the enterprise. Uncontrolled changes are the stuff of legends. In a personal example, one colleague failed to back up data before swapping a card and cost the company over 250,000 British pounds when the data was lost. Bad things happen, and Murphy’s Law has never been repealed. An effective change control program is at the heart of proper risk management.
Change management tools can mean the difference between tremendous achievement and monumental failure. Great care should be taken to anticipate possible outcomes. Obviously something fell through the cracks when on November 10, 1999, NASA lost a $125 million Mars orbiter. The reason? One piece of software calculated in pounds of force, while another used the metric unit known as newtons. One might assume that more careful planning might have prevented the lander from burning up in the Martian atmosphere.
Fixing things on the fly can be just as dangerous. Critical processes and multitudes of users may be dependent upon the success of change management. A tech may not burn up an expensive spacecraft, but there’s a chance that, with one false move, an IT career could disintegrate into a million pieces.
The tools and methods used to control changes in enterprise systems should provide a comprehensive view of the scope of the change and ensure that come what may – even if the planned change fails – it can be rolled back to the previous state. Redundant systems may play a role here. Regularly gathering metrics such as KPIs or analytics will help in planning the change. The use of method of procedure (MOP) to implement a change will also help control outcomes.
Planning and controls are essential to any business. Change control is a way to bring people, processes, and infrastructure together. Having an effective change management plan in place is critical to the health and well-being of any IT environment. The risks are too great to leave anything to chance.