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Change Control

In: Business and Management

Submitted By cybmatt12
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Change control

Change control is one of the more important subjects of the business world today. With the ability to transfer information at (nearly) the speed of light, competition can be fierce. In a competitive business environment, there is tremendous pressure to be one step ahead of (or to rush quickly to catch up to,) the competition. This is especially true in industries where technology is the main source of business. Even where it’s not, almost every company has a Web site now. The temptation to make changes to these production environments can be great, and management can and will often pressure people to make the change happen now. This is why change control is important.

Information security and business continuity while continuing to offer the highest-quality product should be the goals of any information technology group at a very high level. Sometimes, though, one can buckle to the pressure of management or simply decide to change something in a way he or she thinks better. While this may be true at the laser-point level of that particular module, application, Web page, etc., the real problem exists in how the change cascades down to other items. That is to say, the one small change made to item “a” may have a trickle-down effect and break seemingly unrelated item “z” or even reporting somewhere. If this breaks financial reporting, anything from auditing to bankruptcy is possible. It can even create a legal situation because a product or service stopped being offered as intended as the result of the change.

The change control process brings into the picture those who would seek to solve this situation. A proper change control process is not a bunch of people sitting around a table speaking in the past tense of ‘I changed this’, but rather a planning and approval group with representatives from many different areas answering the question ‘can I change this?’ Having representatives from the different groups in the company –and even subgroups thereof- is crucial for the reason listed above of trickle-down or domino effects.

If the network team wants to upgrade a circuit and this requires shutting off connectivity to the data center out of which all data and applications are served, and the database team is doing a major upgrade requiring a full backup and then restoring that data, the network going down unexpectedly in the middle could be disastrous. It is only if these two groups communicate via a change process that such situations are avoided. Even though this may have taken place at 5am on a Sunday morning, well away from business hours, countless users working through the weekend could be affected by any of this. Crashing a database upgrade process could also lose the company many man-hours and many dollars.

A proper change control process works as follows at a high level.

I. A change to a production system is needed/proposed

II. This change is submitted to the change control board (CCB)

III. The CCB evaluate the change on several criteria

a. Date/time

b. Directly-impacted services

c. Possible collateral impact

d. Complexity of change

e. Worst case scenario

f. Ability to reverse change if needed to recover

IV. The change is approved or denied at this point

V. If approved, a date is set with multiple parties, often including

a. The person requesting the change

b. The person making the change

c. Manager of the person making the change

d. A representative of each other impacted party

e. CCB

VI. If applicable, the change should be tested by all parties in a development environment first

a. If the change goes poorly, things may need re-evaluated from the beginning

b. If the change goes well in development, it may go as planned

VII. The change is put into place

VIII. Post-testing occurs by all impacted parties

IX. Issue is reviewed and closed.

As one can see, there are many places where failure to notify the right group could be a problem. Pre-testing is one thing that can be done to help avoid this. If there is a development environment available, testing the change beforehand can give the opportunity to find out that other items may be impacted and that more time and/or approvals will be needed. This could save a company a lot of time and money from lost business or simply chasing down seemingly mysterious errors that began appearing in obscure places.

While the change control process is not at all foolproof, it is definitely a “best practices” approach to doing business. Imagine if NASA had an employee decide that carrying things out to 128 decimal places is simply too much work, and that employee decides to change everything to a mere 32 decimal places. Who needs 128-point precision? This could have (and in a similar situation has,) been a fatal mistake. Another case from the space program would be the classic situation of Apollo 13 and the different types of carbon dioxide removal systems between the LEM and the command module. Someone decided on a completely different approach for one and it nearly cost three men their lives.

Software Maintenance

A Working maintenance schedule would provide 24-hour services as well as scheduled system maintenance and updates.

1. Receive work order:
The order should be priorities and handled in a timely manner. The critical point is to fix the problem in time, which is short critical time; this can cause the system's hardware or other software's to be damage.
1b. Search for, and find the problem with a 24 hour time frame. 2. Fix the problem as quick as possible never leave a problem unsolved. Each work order should be treated as a critical problem and should be resolved within a 24 hour period and will be tracked by the initial service technician name.
3. Ater the problem has been resolved then the end-user should be notified and have the end-user test the fix.
4. At this point the issue should be research and put on the maintenance work order to be address with monthly maintenance service.
Keep live updates and critical updates.
4b. Critical updates allows for services tech to make live updates to prevent other problems from occurring.
5. Scheduled updates as need to maintain the normal function of the system software and to add any new software to the system with minor interruption.
6. After critical investigation has been done and no other issues have come from the issue then you can close the order or add to regular schedule maintenance check-up.…...

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