Understanding the Importance of the ITIL Change Management Process Flow | Everything You Need to Know

Technology has become the key driver for business mission and organizational operations. This makes it critical to keep IT service delivery efficient, orderly, and strategic.

Those companies that continually optimize their IT services using ITIL change management best practices are often better positioned than those that are less digitally advanced.

According to PTC, 70% of companies either have or are planning a digital transformation strategy to stay competitive. The top reasons for doing this using an ITIL change management process include:

  • Improving operational efficiency
  • Faster time to market
  • Meeting changing customer expectations

To keep up in a technology-driven world and ensure that any technology changes done minimize risk and are stable, reliable, and of value, ITIL uses a framework that guides the entire process of any change to an IT asset, process, or workflow.

itil change management process

ITIL Change Management Process

This framework is contained in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). The ITIL change management template guides a tech-related transformation, update, or emergency change from the point of ITIL change request through to the change closure.


►► Change Management Tasks for All Change Managers | (Step-by-Step)


Why is ITIL Change Control so Important?

Without a process to evaluate a requested IT change, identify and plan how that change is to be made, and guide the implementation and testing, an IT infrastructure can become unstable, unreliable, and cause major downtime issues for an organization.

We’ll be covering some of the following important topics and often asked questions in this AGS ITIL change management guide:

  • What is the ITIL change management definition?
  • What is an ITIL change request template?
  • How does the ITIL change process work?
  • What are the types of change management in ITIL?
  • What are ITIL change and release management processes?
  • Who is the ITIL change owner?
  • What’s the ITIL change approval process?
  • What are the benefits of ITIL change management?

In order to successfully implement any type of change or upgrade to a digital workflow, it’s important that it be done mindfully to minimize disruption and maximize benefit. That’s exactly what the change management ITIL framework is designed to achieve.


Overview of ITIL Framework | ITIL Change Management

Whether you’re searching for the ITIL change request definition or perhaps use a misspelling of “ITIL change management,” you’ll most likely find yourself swimming in a sea of information.

This is because of the popularity of the change model in ITIL and the importance of the ITIL v3 change management framework and newly released v4 ITIL change management activities.

ITIL covers a full lifecycle when it comes to information technology management; the ITIL change process is a part of that lifecycle.

You can think of it as similar to a book series like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. Together, all the books make up the entire lifecycle of that story. However, each book individually also tells its own part of that story.

ITIL is like the entire story, and the ITIL change management process is a chapter inside a book within that story.

Before we get into the ITIL change management process steps, we need to address the difference between ITIL v4 and ITIL v3 change management.

ITIL Change Process Flow V3 vs V4

ITIL, as a whole, is a framework for delivering IT services. This framework is updated regularly, and version 4 was introduced in February of 2019. This was not meant to be a complete replacement of the ITIL v3 change management definition, but rather an add-on.

So, if you’re looking for ITIL change management examples, you’ll most likely find documents related to ITIL v3 change management, which is now enhanced with even more flexibility thanks to v4.

ITIL V4 and V3 Differences Overview

The ITIL change evaluation is contained in one of the three main process areas of ITIL. Both ITIL v4 and ITIL v3 change management documentation call the process areas by different names. We’ll explain below.

ITIL v4 has three main categories, and each category includes several processes that guide that part of the overall technology service lifecycle. These categories are:

  • General Management Practices
  • Service Management Practices
  • Technical Management Practices

In ITIL v4, the ITIL change management and ITIL change request process are included in the Service Management Practices area and referred to as “change enablement.”

In the ITIL v3 change management definition, those process areas are represented in a service lifecycle which includes:

  • Service Strategy
  • Service Design
  • Service Transition
  • Service Operation
  • Continual Service Improvement

Within the service lifecycle, the ITIL change management metrics are within the Service Transition part of the life cycle.

ITIL Change Management ITIL v3 and v4

While version 4 has renamed ITIL change management to ITIL change enablement, the process is still widely known as the ITIL change management process.

So, we will refer to it in this article under version 3 ITIL change management definition to avoid confusion about the new name, which many are not yet familiar with.

We’ll try to simplify the ITIL and change management concept next with an overview of the ITIL change management workflow.


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ITIL Change Management Definition

The purpose of change management ITIL is to guide the technology change process to ensure efficiency and to minimize downtime. The process involves looking at ITIL change management metrics to prioritize IT change requests.

During the ITIL change evaluation process, an ITIL change impact assessment is done to identify the level of impact on users, customers, workflows, and other parts of the IT infrastructure. This is to ensure disruption can be kept to a minimum.

The ITIL change manager takes care of the evaluation and planning process for a requested IT service change, so all goes smoothly and the organization receives the desired results.

Examples of changes that an ITIL change request form may be sent in for are:

  • A change from one ERP program to another
  • To address a newly found data security vulnerability
  • Operating system upgrade for devices
  • Deployment of a bug fix
  • Adding new software to support remote workers

Without ITIL change management best practices in an organizational IT lifecycle, technology updates and improvements can easily cause major problems for a company, including disruptions to business, cost overruns, and broken IT systems.

Part of the ITIL change management definition is that managers adhere to goals for the overall ITIL lifecycle. Some of these goals are:

  • Evaluate requested changes for efficacy
  • Reduce risk and impact from a technology change
  • Work with those implementing the change on scheduling
  • Communicate with stakeholders throughout the process
  • Monitor ITIL change management KPI numbers to reduce errors

Why is ITIL Change Management Important?

The ITIL change management template provides an orderly structure for technology changes to be requested, evaluated, and implemented.

Because of how much business depends upon the efficient operation of technology, any update or change in IT can have a big impact on a company. It’s the mission of those in charge of the ITIL change management process flow to ensure that impact is a positive one and done in a way that reduces potential work disruption as much as possible.

When you look over an ITIL change management process flow diagram, you’ll see that any ITIL change request template goes through multiple steps that are all designed to ensure the request is implemented successfully.

ITIL change control has multiple advantages. Here are several of the benefits of ITIL change management for an organization.

Ensures IT Alignment to Business Needs

One person’s ITIL change request definition may not actually meet the needs of the organization. For example, if one division requests a specific cloud application migration, but that application does not meet the company’s compliance needs, the change would leave the company at risk.

By going through the change management ITIL steps, managers ensure that any technology changes being made are a good fit for the company and will support its mission.

Minimizes Adverse Effects of Technology Updates

If not handled correctly and in a strategic way by using a change model in ITIL, a technology update can cost a company thousands of dollars in downtime.

Using ITIL change management examples and best practices, any changes can be planned to minimize adverse effects on an organization, such as planning a major update over a weekend.

Tech Changes are Handled in a Cost-Efficient Way

An ITIL change manager may get more than one ITIL change request form within a few weeks. If not handled efficiently, money could be spent doing technology updates and paying weekend staff rates on two separate weekends for different changes.

During ITIL change evaluation, the change manager will look for ways to optimize resources, for example, planning two different change requests to be installed on the same weekend to reduce costs.

Changes are Well Documented

It’s important to understand when, why, and how any changes and updates have been made to your technology infrastructure. This is vital for compliance as well as troubleshooting any issues or application conflicts.

All types of change management in ITIL are thoroughly documented, giving an organization full visibility into their technology infrastructure, where it has been and where it’s going.

Review of ITIL Change Management KPI

The ITIL change control process ensures that technology updates are happening in an efficient manner, and managers continually work towards a fully optimized process.

A change manager will do an ITIL change management KPI review to identify any trouble areas in ITIL change and release management processes. This allows for fast identification of bottlenecks and other potential problems so they can be addressed.

Those searching for ITIL change management or the misspelling of “ITIL change management” will find a list of some of the important KPIs used.

ITIL Change Management KPI Examples:

  • Number of backlogged requests in the ITIL change approval process
  • Number of unauthorized IT changes
  • ITIL change management success rate
  • Number of failed changes
  • Percentage of urgent ITIL change management activities
  • Average time to close the ITIL change and release management processes

ITIL Change Process Flow is Prioritized

Which ITIL change impact assessment should be completed first between two different department requests? Without a “traffic cop” to handle ITIL and change management, IT changes may not be prioritized correctly, and it may just be the most well-connected leader that gets theirs done first.

An ITIL change manager ensures that the ITIL change request is a strategic and thoughtful process, and each change is prioritized according to urgency and benefit to the organization.

Analyzes Failed Changes to Reduce Repeats

If an ITIL change owner finds that a change doesn’t meet the desired objectives and thus fails, the change manager will go through a series of ITIL change management process steps to find out why.

They’ll evaluate what went wrong with a change and document it to keep those same issues from happening again.


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What is a Change Request in ITIL?

Before we get into the process flow and scope of change management ITIL, let’s go through some of the terminologies.

The purpose of change management ITIL defines is to facilitate and strategize changes to an IT business process. Knowing some of the key terms used will help in understanding the ITIL change management workflow.

We’ll start with the change request in ITIL.

An ITIL change request is also known as a Request for Change (RFC). This is the formal request for an IT service or IT update to be made. The ITIL change request kicks off the ITIL change evaluation process.

The ITIL change request definition is: “A formal request for the implementation of change.”

In order to properly provide an ITIL change impact assessment and ITIL change approval process for a change request, it needs to contain certain details.

Just a quick note that a certain department would like to migrate to a new application isn’t enough; there is typically an ITIL change request template that is used.

The use of the ITIL change request template by the ITIL change owner (the person that’s budgeted for and is backing the change) ensures the ITIL change evaluation can be done correctly.

An ITIL change request form contains details such as the priority of the change, any needed ITIL change management metrics, and who is the ITIL change owner. Following is an example of the types of ITIL change management interview questions that will need to be filled in to initiate the ITIL change request process.

Example ITIL Change Request Template

  • Submission Date
  • ITIL Change Owner
  • Person Submitting ITIL Change Request Form
  • Priority of Proposed Change
  • Description of Requested Change (cost, benefits, etc.)
  • Potential Risks During ITIL Change and Release Management Process
  • Suggested Timeline
  • Estimate of Resources Needed for ITIL Change Management Activities (personnel, cost estimate, etc.)
  • Allocated Budget
  • Any Additional Supporting Documents
  • Area for ITIL change manager to Note Approval or Rejection

What is an SLA in ITIL?

When a technology provider works with clients to provide IT services, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) is typically used.

In ITIL change management best practices, the SLA is defined as a contract that designates the level of service and types of services agreed upon between a customer and the IT service provider.

When a service level is documented between an IT service provider and another department in the same organization, the document is called an Operational Level Agreement (OLA). The OLA and SLA will contain very similar information.

itil change management

ITIL Change Management Definition

The SLA used in the ITIL change management process flow diagram helps ensure that the relationship between a technology service provider and their customer goes smoothly. It ensures everyone is on the same page when it comes to responsibilities and the level of service to expect for any ITIL change management process flow.

The ITIL change management template for an SLA will often have three levels:

  • Corporate level (applicable to every customer)
  • Customer level (customer-specific details)
  • Service level (specific to particular services provided)

In ITIL change control, the SLA will include information such as contract start/end dates, contacts and methods of communication, service times, business-critical assets, and more.

The Service Level Agreement will act as a guide and reference for an ITIL change manager when going through the ITIL change process to ensure the service level matches the SLA.


►► Change Impacts Assessment Toolkit ◄◄


ITIL Change Management Process Document

Change management ITIL processes need to be documented from start to finish, so everyone knows what expected and how to initiate an ITIL change control process.

The ITIL Change Management Process Document defines the policies used for ITIL change management across an organization.

This document will include things like ITIL change and release management workflows and the ITIL change management process flow diagram for the organization.

The change model in ITIL can include multiple decision trees used during the ITIL change impact assessment and ITIL change evaluation process. Having the entire ITIL change process flow documented ensures consistency and reduces the chance of mistakes from steps being missed.

The benefits of ITIL change management process documentation extend throughout the organization. It allows department heads and others that are making IT decisions for their teams to know the ITIL and change management steps to expect when they’re requesting a change.

Outline of an ITIL change management process document:

  • Table of contents
  • List of tables and figures
  • Document revision history
  • Introduction to scope of change management ITIL
  • ITIL change management process steps overview
  • ITIL change management terms & definitions
  • ITIL change management workflow
  • ITIL change management procedures
  • ITIL change management process flow diagram

ITIL Change Management Types?

One purpose of change management ITIL processes is to prioritize different requests, so the most important ones are being implemented first. To do this, three important ITIL change management metrics are used to categorize each ITIL change request.

The three types of change management in ITIL used for prioritization are:

  • Standard
  • Emergency
  • Normal

Without this prioritization method in the ITIL change management template, important changes may get put on the back burner behind less important changes. For example, an IT change to address a cybersecurity risk might accidentally be put behind a less important change that slightly improves a user interface.

ITIL change management best practices dictate that change is optimized to benefit the company, which can only be done by knowing which requests should be moved to the front of the line.

Here are how the types of change management in ITIL are used in the ITIL change management process flow.

Standard

A standard change in the ITIL change management process is a change that happens regularly, is well documented, and has a track record of success.

This type of ITIL change request is usually pre-approved and does not need to follow the same ITIL change management process flow as far as evaluation as do other non-standard changes.

A standard ITIL change request can often be automated, which can dramatically reduce the time it takes to accomplish. This would follow ITIL change management best practices for cost efficiency and mitigating disruption.

Emergency

The ITIL change management definition for emergency changes states they must be implemented as soon as possible. This type of ITIL change request is one that will resolve a major issue or is to mitigate urgent security risk.

While emergency requests in ITIL change management best practices still need to go through approval in the ITIL change process, it’s an accelerated version due to the urgent nature of the request.

An emergency ITIL change request form can cause the need to reschedule the planned implementation of another ITIL change management request that’s less urgent.

Normal

Anything that is not a standard or emergency request to change management ITIL personnel is known as a normal ITIL change management request type.

You would expect most requests that go through the ITIL change control process to be normal requests. These are neither extremely urgent nor routine recurring IT changes.

The ITIL change management process flow diagram is designed with “normal” requests in mind, and they’ll follow the entire ITIL change management process flow.


►► Change Readiness Templates & Toolkit ◄◄


ITIL Change Management Examples

Often people searching for information on a change model in ITIL or by typing the misspelling “ITIL change management example,” will be looking for examples of each of the three types of change management in ITIL – standard, emergency, normal.

As you can imagine, standard and normal are often confused because those terms seem to be synonymous. Having some ITIL change management examples can help you better remember each classification and how it’s used.

The ITIL change request definition may not specifically tell the person requesting the change to classify the type. This is because the ITIL change manager is better suited to know which type each request falls into and has the ability to schedule accordingly.

In the scope of change management ITIL processes, evaluating the urgency and type of the request is an important initial step. Many organizations put an area for “type” designation on the ITIL change request template that the change manager fills in.

ITIL Change Management Examples for the 3 Types of Change Requests

  • Standard: Doing Windows 10 operating system updates or updating security patches for firmware and software would be examples of “standard” ITIL change requests. These are done often, are low risk, and are part of the normal course of IT service operations.
  • Emergency: If an organization’s server is hacked and a new firewall needs to be configured to prevent future incidents, that would be considered an “emergency” ITIL change request. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible because the organization’s IT infrastructure can be harmed. Not doing the change represents a high risk to the company.
  • Normal: A department that wants to implement Microsoft Teams desk phone devices for each employee to video chat from their desk would be a “normal” request, according to the ITIL change request template. It’s not an emergency or high-risk situation and also not something that’s recurring, like a software update.

Next, we’ll discuss the ITIL change control process flow.


ITIL Change Management Process Flow Diagram

The ITIL change management process flow diagram can be as simple or detailed as an organization needs. Some will include the simple steps that are taken from the start of the ITIL change request process to the closing of the request after implementation.

Other diagrams showing the ITIL change management definition of the process will be quite detailed and include decision trees with each step.

The following, is an example of a standard ITIL change management template for the basics of the ITIL change management process. Whether you are using the ITIL v4 or ITIL v3 change management definition, these procedure basics will be the same.

NOTE: As we mentioned, when discussing types of change management in ITIL, emergency and standard requests may skip certain steps.

1. ITIL Change Request Received

The person initiating the ITIL change control request can be someone inside an organization or a customer, if an organization provides IT services as their business. The ITIL change owner will typically be the one that has budgeted for this change.

2. ITIL Change Request Evaluation

The ITIL Change manager reviews the request and ensures that the ITIL change management template for the request (aka RFC) has been filled out properly. The request is evaluated for its alignment with the organization’s needs, compatibility with existing IT infrastructure, the risk to the organization, and more.

It’s during this process that the ITIL change request will be classified as standard, emergency, or normal.

The request is then either approved or denied.

3.Planning for the ITIL Change Process

The approved ITIL change request is then prioritized for implementation and may be grouped with other changes planned for implementation at the same time.

ITIL change management best practices dictate that the change must be implemented in a way to cause the lowest amount of risk and least disruption possible to business operations.

4. Change Implemented

The requested change is implemented according to the ITIL change management definition of the project laid out by the ITIL change manager. Implementation is also done in accordance with any existing Service Level Agreement (SLA) or Operational Level Agreement (OLA).

The change is also tested after implementation to ensure it’s been done successfully.

5. ITIL Change Management Process is Documented

Everything that happened from the ITIL change request definition through the implementation is properly documented so it can be referred to later as needed.

6. Change is Closed

Once the ITIL change management process flow is completed, the change request is closed.

You find an example below of one type of ITIL change management process flow diagram. There is no standard ITIL change management template since the process flow diagram is specific to each organization.

However, you can often find ITIL change management examples of diagrams online that you can use to model your own.

ITIL Change Management Process Flow Diagram

ITIL Change Management Best Practices | Process Flow Diagram


How Do You Implement ITIL?

Getting started with ITIL and ITIL change management best practices can seem daunting at first due to the multiple processes within ITIL. The differences between the ITIL v4 and ITIL v3 change management definition can also be confusing.

But, if you take ITIL one step at a time, it can make the ITIL implementation process easier and seem less overwhelming.

Implementing ITIL and the ITIL change management definition into your organization’s IT services workflow can help your organization reduce downtime and improve your ability to choose the best IT changes to benefit your organization.

ITIL and change management are proven frameworks used by organizations all over the world to give structure to IT services provided internally and to customers.

Here are 8 steps you can follow to implement ITIL:

  1. Become familiar with the ITIL v3 and v4 frameworks (consider ITIL certification).
  2. Define your IT service structure according to the ITIL and ITIL change management process steps.
  3. Select ITIL roles and role owners in your organization.
  4. Do a gap analysis of the current “as-is” process and processes needed for ITIL.
  5. Consider ITIL and ITIL change management best practices in setting up your new IT service processes.
  6. Create your ITIL and ITIL change management process document.
  7. Communicate with the team and train staff on new processes.
  8. Implement new ITIL processes.

ITIL Change Management Certification

Because of the importance of ITIL and ITIL change management best practices in IT service delivery, an organization may want to consider ITIL change management certification.

ITIL certification trains people on all aspects of the ITIL framework, including the ITIL change management template. Certification in ITIL is beneficial to an organization by having someone on staff trained in the ITIL framework and processes. It can also be something that helps IT job candidates stand out from others because ITIL is so well-known.

Where to Find ITIL & ITIL Change Management Certification

AXELOS is the organization that is responsible for developing and promoting a number of best practice frameworks. One of these is ITIL®. The organization offers multiple ITIL certification levels for both ITIL v4 and ITIL v3.

  • ITIL 4 Certifications:
    • Foundation
    • ITIL 4 Managing Professional
    • ITIL 4 Strategic Leader
    • Master
  • ITIL v3 Certifications:
    • Foundation
    • Practitioner
    • Intermediate
    • Expert
    • Master

Common ITIL Change Management Interview Questions

If you’re interested in a position working in IT service delivery using the ITIL change management process, then you’ll most likely be receiving some interview questions related to the ITIL change management best practices.

There are several resources online where you can find example ITIL change management interview questions. We’ve included several common ones below to help you know what to expect when interviewing for a position that requires knowledge of ITIL change management.

  • What is the ITIL change management definition?
  • What’s the objective of change management in ITIL?
  • Name an important ITIL change management KPI.
  • What are the steps in a basic ITIL change management process flow diagram?
  • What are the 3 types of change management requests in ITIL?
  • What is an SLA and an OLA?
  • Name examples of emergency change requests.
  • What factors need to be considered during the ITIL change evaluation process?
  • What are ITIL change management best practices for scheduling changes?


►► Change Management Toolkit | All You Need ◄◄


Conclusion: Top Guide to Best ITIL Change Management Process

Without the ITIL change management process, trying to implement IT service changes could easily end up disrupting business operations and causing unnecessary downtime.

Technology is an integral part of any organization and its changing and evolving at a rapid pace. Without the ITIL change management template and framework to keep updates to IT structured and with minimal risk, companies could easily see cost overruns and inefficiency.

The ITIL framework and ITIL change management best practices are recognized around the world as the gold standard when it comes to delivering technology services efficiently and strategically.

For this reason, working with ITIL for your technology services is seen as one of the best ways to ensure your organization remains digitally advanced and able to compete in today’s technology-driven world.


Authors: Ogbe Airiodion (Senior Change Management Lead) and Francesca Crolley (AGS Lead Writer)
Content on Airiodion Global Services (AGS)'s Airiodion.com website is copyrighted. If you have questions, comments, or tips about this Airiodion Global Services content, please contact Airiodion Global Services (AGS) today.
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