Book Review: Implementing Change Management

I have long intended to read “Implementing ITIL Change and Release Management” by Larry Klosterboer. Just recently I dedicated the time and I found it worth the read.

Klosterboer presents a more readable version of the ITIL “Service Support” (v2) and “Service Transition” (v3) books. This author sees a definite relationship between the two processes: “Change management controls IT execution while release management encompasses the wider vision and deals with the fine details… Release management sets the course and powers the ship, whereas change management stands at the rudder to steer the ship.”

The book couples the two processes and focuses on their deployment still within the context of the other processes in the ITIL framework. The author presents the concepts in four parts – Planning, Implementing, Operational and Reaping the Benefits – alternating back and forth between the two processes. He covers the typical concepts one would expect: benefits, standard processes and workflows, emergency procedures, auditing and compliance, the CAB, the FSC, the DML, etc.

The author keeps true to his title: this book is very much about the *implementation* of the processes. In fact, several chapters focus on the project aspects: defining the requirements, preparing the organization, defining the roles, building a project plan, running a pilot, etc. All of these activities that are required whether one is deploying IT processes, accounting processes or ERP software… all good stuff, but all stuff that is available in project management texts.

I was really hoping the book would be devoted to the operational aspects of running a IT change management facility. And there is some of that in there, but the focus is getting the processes kicked off within the ITIL framework. How much more practical and useful it would have been if he’d carried the discussion through normal operations, maybe even relating personal experiences and examples.

While I do agree there is a strong relationship between Change and Release, the latter gets short shrift in the book, as it does in ITIL. Both attempt to group both infrastructure and applications in the release process, and that’s fine, but software development is a different ballgame and its nuances cannot be ignored. Unless one arbitrarily limits the release process scope to infrastructure – which Klosterboer argues against – as an infrastructure release “by itself violates the rule that a release should add significant business value” because “the business people just do not understand the need for newer plumbing when the old seems to be working”, release management is worthy of more coverage if not its own book.

Because of the dearth of material available about the processes, any well-written books on change management should be welcomed and consumed. Klosterboer’s is definitely well-written, professional, and full of good advice on the basics. And it is very accessible and easy to read.

More information on change management and ITIL is available on the Process link of The IT Manager.