Among the various tasks of the ITSM, change management is essential to ensure the stability of your infrastructure when changes are implemented. Rolling out these processes does not happen overnight, which is why Belnet, through its ITSM team, offers presentations to raise awareness among its community. To find out more, we spoke to the ITSM team coordinator, Jean-Christophe Real.
Hello Jean-Christophe, with regard to the broad range of tasks of the ITSM, could you explain how important change management is?
Jean-Christophe Real: "The ITSM manages infrastructure and the aim is to make it as stable as possible despite the risks that may arise, in particular during a change. The aim of change management is to ensure that changes to the infrastructure are made with minimal impact on services both in terms of the duration of the impact and the timing of the change. It is also important to ensure that all users are informed of planned changes in good time".
You gave a presentation at the ULB on ITIL processes, how was this presentation organised?
Jean-Christophe Real: "This presentation was given last January. The ULB contacted us in connection with the continuous improvement of its IT services. After a discussion, we decided that a presentation of our own experience would be interesting for their different IT teams".
How did you approach this presentation?
Jean-Christophe Real: "It was based on the experience of Belnet. Starting from the history of our rollout, I presented in detail the different phases and the necessary points of attention. This allowed me to approach the different processes and in particular those related to operational aspects which are the most important to guarantee the quality of service (incident, problem, change). The aim was to provide them with a customised presentation with as much information as possible and to take into account their needs, which were set out in advance in collaboration with Mrs Doguet (the IT Director) and certain team leaders".
Jean-Christophe Real, Belnet ITSM Coordinator
Do you think these ITIL processes are useful for all categories of companies connected to Belnet?
Jean-Christophe Real: "In general, these processes can be interesting for all the types of organisations connected to Belnet. That is why we are at the disposal of any organisation wishing to discuss this subject with us. But it also depends on the level of maturity of their existing processes. The companies that have already implemented these ITIL processes for 5 or 10 years are probably in the same situation as us, and sharing experiences can be interesting for them as well as for us. And for organisations that have not yet structured themselves according to well-defined processes, a presentation could provide useful ideas and advice if they choose to go down that route".
Why do you think good change management is important?
Jean-Christophe Real: "The aim of change management is to guarantee the stability of the infrastructure when it needs to be changed. Any change implies a moment of instability that will affect customers or end users. The role of the change process is therefore to guarantee, firstly, a minimal impact on the service, and secondly, the best timing to mitigate the actual impact on users.
The change process makes it possible to take into account all affected parties, and ensure that all necessary information is collected. This relies on structuring, which makes it possible to involve the right people at each stage, and to ensure that the skills are in place to keep control of what is implemented.
Change management also makes it possible to handle every change according to its level of risk and importance. Sometimes, a seemingly small change can be significant and impact the entire network infrastructure. That's why it's important to rely on a process of change".
«The process is not set in stone, but is improved as it goes along.» (Jean-Christophe Real)
The different phases of a change process:
- The change identification phase is the responsibility of the technical teams. They analyse the change based on the need to decide how to proceed and what the impact will be.
- The planning and risk analysis phase includes presenting the change to the Change Advisory Board (CAB). The various constraints, the time required and the method chosen to accomplish it are explained here, along with the estimated impact (how long, which departments, which customers) and the risks identified. Of course, this is all based on a preliminary study and/or tests.
- The change implementation phase. Once the change has been approved and planned by the CAB, Belnet informs the affected customers. The change can then take place at the chosen and communicated time.
- The Post Implementation Review (PIR) phase is an analysis phase with the aim of assessing whether the change has gone well. Any incidents and problems are described in the Post Implementation Review. This is very useful, so that lessons can be learned for future changes.
The different types of change that can occur:
- Standard change is implemented on a fairly regular basis and for which the procedure is well defined and the risks are low. For example, connecting a new Belnet Leased Line for a customer or increasing bandwidth capacity. Because they are repetitive, well documented and very low risk, they are pre-approved. This means that they no longer go through the CAB, which saves time.
- Normal change is a change with a normal and complete process.
- Emergency change. In urgent cases, emergency change is applicable. This consists of the same steps as for a normal change, but the CAB, which is normally weekly at Belnet, is convened for an emergency session.
- Complex or high risk changes have the specific feature of being unprecedented or not standard in any way. With a much higher level of risk, they require a more in-depth analysis phase. This involves a more thorough testing campaign, and the possibility of full or partial rollback at each phase of the change. At the CAB, to ensure that the risks have been thoroughly assessed and that the various implementation options are known, one or more experts other than those who conducted the analysis are consulted.
This type of change consists, for example, of installing and connecting a new PoP or making a configuration change on the entire backbone. By their nature, this type of change is much less frequent than the previous ones.
How do I request a presentation on ITIL processes?
Jean-Christophe Real: "The easiest way is to ask your account manager. He or she will be able to identify your needs and we can then prepare a customised presentation for you".
Is sharing experience on change management essential in your opinion?
Jean-Christophe Real: "What's interesting is the feedback. How do you manage the process of informing your users; how do you assess the risk; how do you allocate roles and responsibilities, etc.?
There are many areas in which we can all drive things forward. The process is not set in stone, but is improved as it goes along. It's therefore interesting to sit around the table, either in the form of a presentation or a simple discussion. So I recommend that you contact us".