Today we begin our competitive analysis of Change, Config and Release. As with previous reviews our goal will be to highlight the key strengths, competitive differentiators and innovation in the industry.
Widely recognised as key to the successful preservation of production systems, the ITSM processes of Change, Config and Release are perceived as pivotal to maintaining the integrity and stability of the IT environment.
In a nutshell:
Change Management is the process used to track and communicate any changes in service that may impact the customer such as when systems are taken offline for updates.
Configuration Management is the process used to track individual CI’s (Configuration Items) and the way in which they interact with one another.
Release Management is the process of managing software releases from development right through to release.
Each process can be used individually but more often than not you will find these processes intertwined. When considering either a Change or Release you will need to know the CI’s that will be affected before you begin.
E.g: Your organisation needs to upgrade your in-house software package to all of its desktop pc’s, tablet devices and kiosks.
Release Management is used to track the in-house development of the software in question, Config management is used to scope the number of devices, number of people and types of people affected while Change Management is used to ensure the changes take place on a date that will cause the least disruption and that the why, how and when the changes will take place are communicated to the relevant people.
The criteria we will be using for our assessment is published below.
- Ability to maintain a detailed record of each system’s configuration
- Ability to interface with all internal Management Data Repositories (MDR) allowing the tool to compare reported configuration with actual configuration stored in the MDR
- Ability to define dependency relationships between CIs
- Ability to assign maintenance windows to CIs
- Ability to auto discover CIs
- Ability to interface with Inventory Control tools (to automate gathering of asset and inventory information) and barcode scanners
- Ability to create automated alerts when a CI is found to be in an unauthorised state
- Ability to link Release records to Change records
- Ability to provide a Change/Release calendar with scheduled change viewing by group, and to customize the sorting and filtering of calendar views and link to existing calendar products
- Calculate an objective risk assessment considering business impact and affected services
- Show logical links between components included in a service in order to carry out business impact analysis
- Ability to automatically create a Change Request when unauthorised changes are made to CI’s
- Ability to schedule recurring events and maintenance
- Ability to create and select pre-approved Change/Release from a pre-defined list
- Pre-determined fields to auto-populate when Standard Change/Release from list used
- Ability to capture the Change/Release date and time and who will be responsible for implementation
- Ability to automatically send approval requests to the appropriate approvers
- Ability to notify the assignee of the task and due date
- Ability to link resources/approvers to Changes/Releases
- Ability to assign tasks to individuals to be accomplished within specific time frames
- Ability to alert Change/Release managers when approvals are past due
- Ability to change status of Change/Release approvals
- Ability to easily identify scheduling conflicts and reschedule appropriately
- Ability to attach and store documentation with a Change/Release record
- Ability to authorize and schedule Release deployments in conjunction with Change Management processes
- Ability to change status of Release and linked Changes
- Automatic notification for scheduled start/end and when the status of a Change associated with a Release changes
- Ability to build, bundle and schedule different types of release packages for deployment
- Ability to change status of Change/Release documentation
- Ability to create sub activities or tasks for separate assignment to an individual, group or vendor
- Ability to version release components and packages
- Ability to assign tasks to teams/resolver groups
- Ability to track the physical location of contracts and agreements, and identify the individuals responsible for them
- Ability to define Change and Release Windows (including freeze windows)
- Ability to document back-out procedures
- Ability to ensure that Release deployments are subject to scheduling and approval requirements managed by the Change management process
- Ability to provide proactive notification to stakeholders and Change Advisory Board (CAB) members for Changes with critical business impact and provide fully configurable filtered views of scheduled changes to multiple stakeholders
- Ability to designate back up approvers
- Ability to set thresholds for automated approval process
- History of approval requests logged
- Ability to easily identify affected CIs whenever a change is made
- Ability to maintain an audit trail of changes made to a CI
- Ability to track Asset status and lifecycle management
- Support of multiple software audit options
- Ability to perform software license management including automated notification of license expiration and non-compliance
- Ability to create and publish a Master Release Schedule
- Ability to associate the Master Release Schedule with Service Level Agreement information
- Ability to store approver comments with the approval, and store approval history for a Release
- Ability to track and trace post deployment activities
- Ability to trace implementation to the authorized version in the Document Management Library (DML)
- Bulk import of licensing data
- Ability to track costs of CI’s
- Alignment with industry frameworks
- Ability to support a “virtual” CAB (i.e. approvals/issues stored electronically)
- User-configurable forms, tables, workflows, dashboards
- Role-based access for approvals, retracting or rescheduling RFC’s/Release
- Open system for real-time integration with financial management and other monitoring tools
- Provision of templates and pre-filled forms and structure to act as basic starting point
- Vendors should provide expertise and guidance in the implementation of the tool and relevant processes
If you would like to comment on the above criteria or if you are a vendor and would like to be included in this review please comment below or contact me via email.