Change control helps enterprises standardize the request and approval process for any organizational change. It also helps businesses stay compliant with regulatory standards that require them to present data for audits. For increasingly digital workplaces and workforces, documenting changes is critical for maintaining clear communication between teams and reducing information silos.
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What Is Change Control?
Change control is a component of enterprise change management that develops a process for assigning, approving, and denying changes that are requested by any system users. Broadly speaking, change management refers to the entire change process, from request to implementation to testing. Change control is a part of the change management process that helps enterprises to determine whether a change is necessary and to funnel change requests to the correct people.
Change control is often used in business sectors such as information technology, quality management, software development, manufacturing, engineering, and the medical device industry. In many of these industries, complying with regulatory requirements is paramount, and if changes are not properly documented and implemented by all departments, that business may be subject to fines from a regulatory body.
For example, if a payroll tracking process is changed, but not all departments correctly track the financial resources being allocated, the organization could be found noncompliant with the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act, which mandates that businesses account for all salary numbers and other monetary incentives.
Interested in learning more about change management strategies? Read 4 Steps HR Can Take to Craft a Change Management Strategy.
What Is the Change Control Process?
In project management systems and other business operations, a change control process allows project team members to submit a change request, which will either be approved or rejected by a designated team member.
Once the approval or rejection has been sent, assigned team members can move forward with any shifts in the project. Directing change requests to any relevant company stakeholders managing the project is a more effective method of determining whether the changes are helpful.
An enterprise change control plan should determine:
- Who is responsible for making decisions about changes. Different types of changes may go to different stakeholders depending on department or seniority.
- Whether a change is necessary. This may depend on whether it is a minor change or an emergency. It also depends on how the change will affect the business and whether the necessary staffing and financial investment will be worthwhile.
Change control is particularly helpful for agile project management teams, since their operational model relies on the ability to make financially beneficial changes. Although many other business teams use change control in their change management strategies, agile teams especially should consider standardizing their process. Change controls can help them queue an influx of changes so they can be consistently and effectively implemented.
Change Control Best Practices
To set an effective change control strategy, set clear policies for change control within your organization and specifically within your teams. Who is in charge of approving or denying change requests for your IT portal? Who handles changes on the manufacturing floor, and how should they be submitted?
Documenting each change, through tools such as documentation software, also helps teams track each stage of the change process. Features within software, like version control, also give enterprises more visibility over the changes that have occurred, especially if they need to report them to other stakeholders, leadership, or regulatory bodies. Decide in advance how documentation will be managed for each change and who will head that process.
Other best practices for change control include:
- Create a detailed plan for each step of the change control process. This will need to be documented as well.
- Determine what team members receive which requests and either approve or deny them.
- Evaluate your change control strategy over time. How can this process be improved? Long-term evaluation helps businesses design more permanent and successful change control plans.
Best Change Control Software
Freshservice‘s IT service management (ITSM) solution includes these change management features: calendar views of scheduled changes, customizable hierarchical approval processes, and attachable notes for monitoring changes. Freshservice change management can be integrated with other ITSM features, like asset management and incident management.
Freshservice change management supports the information technology infrastructure library (ITIL) framework, which focuses on moving a new product or solution from service design to service operation. Consider Freshservice if your business needs a change management solution specifically tailored to the IT team.
ChangeGear, owned by Serviceaide, is an ITSM change platform that helps businesses document risks and maintain their change record history. Users can configure the interface through drag-and-drop functionality.
ChangeGear supports ITIL change management for IT teams, but it also helps non-technical teams meet compliance requirements like PCI and FDA CFRA 21. Users can create dashboards with KPIs and metrics. The tool also allows organizations to set automated email notifications for team members.
Whatfix is a change management solution designed to help business employees transition between existing and new technology systems. Whatfix administrators are able to design popup windows that remind users of tasks or allow them to take surveys within the application.
Through Whatfix, employees also have the ability to select the Self Help option within an application, which guides them through self-service tools like videos and links. Whatfix reduces the need to create training content for employees through its in-application assistance.
Giva is a cloud tool with support for ITIL support and agile change management flows. Giva has a dashboard that shows charts and graphs of requests for change (RFC) statuses; cards with RFC charts can also be resized and dragged and dropped around the dashboard.
The change manager status change process flow visualizes the path of an RFC, showing whether it has been approved or rejected and its planning stages. Users also have access to a monthly RFC calendar that shows an overview of the organization’s change management process.
Considering a change management solution for your business? Read Best Change Management Tools.