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ITSM Change Management: Features, Benefits & Best Practices

ITSM change management: features, benefits, and best practices

In the modern business environment where innovation is constant and competition is fierce, companies must be able to evolve and adapt to change. It is no surprise that 82% of executives believe that change is the key to survive in today’s market.

 The process of IT change management guides this transition. . It’s not just a trend but a necessity for organizations to evolve and thrive. By systematically managing changes to IT systems, processes, and infrastructure, change management ensures that all technological transitions are smooth and do not disrupt business operations.

With effective change management practices in place, businesses can enhance and encourage  innovation, increase operational efficiency, and build and implement more effective  processes company-wide.

Introduction to change management

A change is the modification, addition, or removal of anything that has the potential of  directly or indirectly affecting   services. Any change to an organization’s IT infrastructure that can affect the organization’s operations is categorized as an IT change. 

This includes replacing servers, projectors, software updates, network modifications, a change in processes or systems, etc. 

Change management involves planning and implementing modifications to an organization’s system in a controlled and systematic manner to minimize risks. In IT Service Management (ITSM), change management keeps your digital systems stable and helps you introduce new updates and features with minimum disruptions and incidents.

By following standard processes, effective change management ensures that all aspects of each stage, such as planning, risk assessment, and implementation tracking, are managed effectively. 

There are four basic types of changes that are discussed as follows:

1. Standard

These are routine alterations to your systems and pose a minimum risk of disruption. Standard change processes are usually well understood among employees, having a set procedure and clear documentation. 

Such changes can be implemented without extensive planning or coordination. One example would be updating your system applications with the latest software patches.

2. Emergency

As the name suggests, emergency changes are urgent updates necessary to address critical issues or threats to a system e.g. cyberattacks. These changes need to be implemented immediately to avoid further damage and restore services promptly. 

3. Major

Major changes overhaul your systems significantly and impact several aspects of your operations. Besides time and money, major changes require comprehensive planning and stakeholder collaboration to be successful. 

For instance, an organization deciding to shift to an enterprise resource planning software is a major change. This means replacing existing software systems across multiple departments, training employees on the new platform, and redefining business processes according to the new software’s functions.

4. Normal

Normal changes require more planning and coordination than standard changes but aren’t as urgent or extensive as major or emergency changes. They are usually planned and executed according to the established change management procedures. 

Hardware upgrades, software migrations, or changes to network configuration are all examples of normal changes. All these modifications aren’t part of the routine maintenance and aren’t major changes that completely divert processes from what they originally were, but are changes necessary for optimizing your systems to peak performance.

Why is IT change management important?

The reliance of businesses on modern IT systems is growing day by day. In fact, a 2023 report by Harvard Business Review showed that 85% of senior professionals noted a massive increase in IT change management processes in the past five years owing to the rapid change in and adoption of different types of technology. 

rise in organizational change

In order for businesses to remain competitive and provide a reliable user experience, their IT infrastructure helps them deliver services without disruption. These disruptions are not easy to avoid especially when businesses implement modifications to their IT infrastructure as they scale. 

Even seemingly minor alterations can have severe consequences if not managed correctly. The consequences may include unplanned downtime, data loss, security breaches, operational disturbances, and financial losses. This hampers the continuity of a business and jeopardizes its reputation.

Another reason why change management is crucial is the growing complexity and interdependence of modern IT environments. Many companies rely on different hardware, software, networks, and cloud services, all of which are usually connected.

If you introduce change to one component, it can have a ripple effect on other components and may impact several business functions. With effective change management, you can assess the impact of the change and discuss it with all stakeholders to ensure proper adoption and implementation.

Change management process

The change request process is initiated via ticket submission, followed by multiple steps as described below:

Step 1: Ticket submission

The first stage begins by initiating a change request through a ticket creation tool like Zendesk. The ticket will contain all the necessary information about the change type, priority, and its potential impact. You can then delegate the tasks to specific users and assign roles on the ticket.

Step 2: Planning

In this step, the stakeholders evaluate the change rollout plan and consider factors such as feasibility, risk, associated downtime, and potential impact. They also assess the resources needed during this phase and document their analysis.

Step 3: Approval

The proposed changes need approval from the higher-ups or any relevant teams that might have a stake in the change. After evaluating the feasibility information, the Change Advisory Board (CAB) provides recommendations to the change manager, who makes the final decision.

Step 4: Implementation

Once approved, the changes are ready to be implemented. You can either assign a new ticket or use a project management tool to effectively delegate tasks and monitor their progress.

Step 5: Review

Upon implementation, the effects of the change are evaluated to determine if it was successful and identify any areas for improvement or further adjustments.

Step 6: Closure

This is the final step in the ITSM change management process. Once the change has been implemented, teams review whether it was successful, unsuccessful, or incomplete. They rigorously assess the change’s impact  through key metrics such as productivity, user satisfaction, and efficiency. Change can also be evaluated by qualitative feedback given by employees, behavioral changes, or internal help desk metrics such as tickets opened, tickets resolved, number of incidents, etc. . 

This gives businesses insights into how the change has affected workflows and the overall business performance, giving guidelines for future change initiatives. These results are documented, giving you helpful benchmarks  for the next change process.

ITSM change management tools

Here is a list of features and services you should look out for in IT change management software:

1. Change request management

  • Change management software like Zendesk helps you manage and track all change requests from a centralized dashboard
  • Relevant stakeholders can monitor the status of requests in real-time
  • You can prioritize change requests based on factors like urgency, impact, and business objectives. This ensures that critical changes receive prompt attention.

2. Change creation

  • A user-friendly interface and custom change templates allow your IT teams to easily submit change requests. They can enter detailed information about the proposed modifications, including their scope, rationale, and desired outcomes.
  • Users can create different types of changes and assess the impact in change request forms.

3. Change implementation

  • Change management systems allow you to follow standard protocols and best practices, ensuring that changes are implemented in a controlled and systematic manner. For example, you can break down large tasks into small tickets or work logs. Similarly, you can have pre-approved workflows for four different types of changes i.e. normal, standard, major, and emergency.
  • Pre-approved workflows guide your users through the necessary steps for submitting, reviewing, approving, and implementing changes. By adhering to these protocols, you can minimize the risk of errors, ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, and maintain the stability and reliability of your IT infrastructure.
  • Change implementation modules allow stakeholders to create and assign tasks, track progress, and manage dependencies to ensure smooth execution.
  • Keep all stakeholders updated with alert notifications and real-time updates. With dashboards and reporting tools, they can closely monitor key metrics and identify any potential issues in the implementation phase.
  • In case of any incidents or issues, document them  and present them to the stakeholders during the change review.

4. Change review and assessment

  • With change management software, you can track performance metrics, user feedback, and post-implementation reviews (PIR). 

Key Change Management KPIs

Change management can be a complex process and so it needs to be monitored closely at all stages. You can track these key performance indicators (KPIs) and determine the success of your change management efforts:

  • Change Success Rate: This measures the percentage of changes successfully implemented without causing any disruptions or incidents.
  • Change Lead Time: Tracks the time taken from the change request submission to its implementation. This will give you a better idea of the entire process’s efficiency.
  • Change Backlog: Monitors the number of pending change requests awaiting implementation, highlighting potential bottlenecks or resource constraints.
  • Emergency Change Rate: Measures the frequency of emergency changes compared to planned changes, reflecting system stability and proactive risk management practices.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): CSAT measures how much the end users (IT teams, managers, and system users) are satisfied with change management processes. You can calculate it through surveys and feedback..
  • Post-implementation Incidents: Tracks the number of incidents or disruptions occurring after changes are implemented, indicating the effectiveness of testing, validation, and communication during the change process.

Benefits of ITSM Change Management

Whether it’s on a company-wide scale or end-user level, change management brings a range of benefits. Businesses experience a number of benefits ranging from achieving more reliable service delivery and building  team collaboration, to streamlining their processes.

For organizations:

  • Reduced downtime and disruptions to services as well-managed change keeps your services and business operations uninterrupted during roll-outs
  • Change collisions happen if multiple changes are scheduled simultaneously. With change management, changes are well coordinated and less likely to overlap
  • Improved agility because you can respond immediately to threats such as malware, cyberattacks, and server shutdowns
  • Improved  resource allocation as organizations can prioritize changes systematically and decide where to allocate tech and financial resources first
  • Improved change automation since all associated tasks such as change request, approval, and implementation are automated and follow a pre-approved workflow
  • Better decision-making capability for stakeholders as they can assess all potential risks and hurdles before rolling out any change

For end users:

  • Well-managed changes ensure fewer disruptions to services, giving end users uninterrupted service delivery
  • Alert notifications and regular communication enhance transparency and update users in advance of any schedule changes
  • Low service disruptions and a consistent user experience lead to improved customer satisfaction, which also builds your company’s  reputation

ITSM Change Management Best Practices

There are best practices that you can follow to ensure changes are implemented easily and without friction. Here are a few steps you should consider: 

1. Identify change type and its priority

The first rule to effective change management is identifying the type of change you want to implement, its urgency, and potential impact. You should create separate processes and workflows for each change and assign a priority accordingly.

2. Document all risks and potential impacts

When you’re in the change proposal phase, you should clearly document its description and the specific changes it will make to your IT systems, processes, or infrastructure. 

You should mention a timeline of change implementation and its business justification including benefits such as improved security or efficiency. Similarly, the document must contain all the associated risks and mitigation strategies to address them. This will minimize the impact of changes on business operations.

3. Automate with ticketing systems

Integrate software like Zendesk with your IT service management software. Through it, you can generate change requests in the form of tickets that will be forwarded for approval and eventually assigned to deployment teams. This automation frees your teams from manually handling requests and coordinating with stakeholders.

4. Assign roles according to job responsibilities

Team leaders and change managers should break down tasks and delegate responsibilities according to job titles. This way, they can clearly define user roles without getting bogged down with work.

5. Implement change freeze periods

Change freeze periods are times when no non-urgent changes are implemented. It can be a peak season when the website traffic is high and the business can’t afford downtime or service disruption. You should schedule changes when there is no major event coming up to maintain stability during critical business periods. 

6. Continuously monitor and review change performance

You should regularly monitor the outcome of the changes to determine their effectiveness and identify any areas for improvement. Post-implementation reviews and KPIs like change success rate, CSAT, and emergency change rate are good indicators of change performance.


Change management is essential to ensure everyone in the organization is informed of, in agreement with, and can navigate the change made in order to provide uninterrupted service. 

As emphasized above, without a change management process, organizations would either not be making important changes to remain in sync with the latest technological needs or would be poorly implementing the changes made  leading to haphazard situations. Using an ITAM solution integrated with a help desk software can help businesses streamline and organize the process of change management for better and quicker implementation of changes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the common challenges businesses face in implementing change management processes?

There are several hurdles organizations can encounter when deploying changes such as failed changes, which drain your resources and time. Other common challenges include the risk of unauthorized changes, miscommunication, change collisions, and inadequate budget allocation

2. What are the primary components of an effective change management plan?

A change management plan starts with a clear understanding of the change and its objective. This is followed by stakeholder analysis to understand the impact on different groups. You then need to devise a detailed implementation plan with timelines, milestones, and resource allocation. Apart from risk assessment and monitoring, you should also train your employees to adapt to change.

3. What are some common misconceptions about IT change management?

One common misconception is that change management slows down innovation and agility. In fact, change management gives you a structured approach to managing risks and successfully implementing modifications. This strikes a balance between reliability and speed, without compromising on your system’s agility.

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