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The Ultimate Guide to IT Change Management in 2024

Whether you’re shifting to a new office space or deploying a fix to the production server or replacing your organization’s ERP, all these changes, big and small, require a process to be followed which is owned by the IT department in most organizations. From day-to-day changes to high-impact major changes, all these fall under change management and require a systemized approach to be followed to prevent chaos and ensure success.

According to a  study from Panorama Consulting Group, executives who invest in a change management methodology are 33% more likely to achieve “good” or “excellent” outcomes from their transition than those who don’t, making IT change management a backbone of the organization’s digital transformation.

What is IT change management?

According to the ITIL framework, 'IT change management ensures that standardized methods and procedures are used for efficient and prompt handling of all changes to control IT infrastructure, minimizing the impact of any related incidents upon service.' It is also known as change enablement and heavily focuses on the process to implement IT changes with minimal disruption.

Overall objectives include:

  • Minimizing risk and disruption
  • Retention of current working state
  • Reduction in number of incidents due to change’s Martha Heller explains that IT change management could also be indicative of “ensuring that new technology and processes are adopted smoothly and effectively”.

IT consultant and Author Peter High, emphasizes the alignment to business objectives in his definition of IT change management in his book Implementing World Class IT Strategy: How IT Can Drive Organizational Innovation.

IT change management is the systematic approach to transitioning from the old to the new in IT systems and processes, ensuring alignment with business objectives. - Peter High, IT consultant and Author

On the basis of the diverse definitions mentioned above, IT change management is a combination of the following:

  • It is a structured process of request, review and approval,
  • It is aimed at digital transformation with minimal disruption and finally,
  • It must be aligned to overall business objectives.
Change management is an enablement function rather than a series of controls. - Josh Jebathilak, Founder of Fruition

In this guide, we will talk about these key aspects and how AI has impacted IT change management. We will also look at examples and tools that can help you nail different types of IT changes within your organization.

AI’s impact on IT change management

Artificial and machine learning has impacted all spheres of our professional and personal lives. In a survey conducted by Prosci, 30% of the participants said that AI in change management had led to increased productivity.

Source: Prosci Research

When it comes to change management in IT, AI has helped to:

  1. Simplify and add operational efficiency like managing vast data sets, confidential feedback, adjusting change schedules and approvals, tracking and performance metrics etc
  2. Enhance communication by keeping everybody in the loop, recording change requests etc
  3. Generate early warnings through predictive analytics so teams can anticipate issues and prepare for obstacles early in the change management process
  4. Smarter decision making that is backed by insights from large data sets and points the change manager in the right direction
  5. Streamline administrative tasks so that IT leaders can focus on other aspects of change management like strategy and adoption

Types of changes in IT

Most changes can be divided into three categories, based on their importance and the processes associated with them.

These are Normal, Standard and Emergency changes.

Type of change
Key characteristics
Normal change
System upgrade, New feature implementation
Requires detailed planning, risk assessment, and approvals
Standard change
Routine software patch, user account creation
Low-risk, routine, follows predefined procedures
Emergency change
Critical security patch, system recovery
Immediate action needed, expedited processes

Based on the type of change, the change management process outlined above, undergoes slight modifications in terms of approvals, stakeholder involvement etc.

The IT change management process

As established so far, a structured process is key to IT change management. Having a process not only enables a systematic approach to the change resulting in successful deployment, it also ensures everything is tracked for future reference and that there are no loopholes.

Let us look at the step-by-step process of IT change management along with key roles.

Raised by
Change request or Request For Change (RFC)
An RFC proposal must include the reason for change, impact and risk assessment, cost benefit analysis, implementation planning
Change requester or initiator
Change evaluation and planning
After a change assessment or review, you need to plan the priority of the change, schedule of the change , roll out plan, and identification of stakeholders
Change request reviewer
Change approval
A Change Advisory Board that usually consists of IT managers, project managers, Business Unit representatives, Security and Compliance officers, evaluate and approve the change request based on risks, benefits and impact
CAB (usually in the case of major changes)
Change implementation
The actual process of executing the change, testing and deploying it. It involves planning, deployment, testing, monitoring, quality assurance, documentation, training
Release management team
Change review and closure
Helps determine the success of the implementation. A periodic audit is carried out to ensure no unexpected issues come up
Change management team

Challenges in IT change management

Challenge #1: Resistance to change

According to a report, 70% of changes fail due to resistance from employees. There is a reason that the very first step in the IT change management process asks the change requester to share the reason for the change - because to combat the aversion to change among stakeholders, we must ‘start with why’.

Challenge #2: Inefficient processes or poor project management

Did you know that 32% of organizational change failures are due to poor project management skills. A detailed, documented process is at the heart of the success of executing a change. Atomicwork allows organizations to project manage like a pro through automation and templatization based on types of changes. Additionally, it allows you to track the entire lifecycle of the change at a glance.

Challenge #3: Communication gaps

20% of organizational change failures are due to a lack of effective communication. A common adage says, “communicate, communicate, communicate”, and often that doesn’t start and end with a simple RFC proposal. To get all stakeholders to buy-in and adopt to new changes - depending on the scale of the change - the change management team must find ways to over-communicate and clarify all doubts through a consistent effort. With Atomicwork you can centralize the communication, automate and customize it based on the stakeholder it needs to be delivered to.

Challenge #4: Lack of alignment with business goals

Depending on the scope of the change, it is imperative that the business team is aligned with the change objective and truly believes in its potential to positively impact the business. When the business goals are not mapped to the technology goal, adoption is hampered. Atomicwork helps you collect information from the CABs and enables standardization of risk assessment at an early stage to avoid any hiccups later.

Challenge #5: Lack on insight on adoption

To counter a lack of adoption, one must be aware of where the loopholes lie. An easy way to track change implementation helps optimize the overall change management process and take corrective measures to ensure faster and smoother adoption. With Atomicwork, you are constantly in the loop as you can view reports and monitor change implementation from within the dashboard.

How modern ITSM software can ease change management

Having the right tool in place for IT change management can help address the above challenges.

With an ITSM software that has built-in change management capabilities, you can:

1. Create customizable change templates easily

Create customized templates and workflows, based on the type of change and your individual company playbook for each. For instance, at your enterprise you might have a more detailed post-implementation review for emergency changes. IT change management software come with simple template creators, that can help you set these up in minutes.

change management template Atomicwork

2. Configure change approval policies

Configure change approval policies for different types of changes: Normal, Standard or Emergency. With each template, you can preselect the reviewers and approvers to enhance transparency and record keeping.

Change management approval policy Atomicwork

3. Centralize and visualize all your IT change activites

Create and get an overview of your change, with all the different stages and stakeholders in one place.

Change management processes Atomicwork

Change management is constantly evolving and there is no reason why your workflows and processes should be playing catch up. A strong foundation powered by automation and AI can be the bedrock of further digital transformation and result in higher rates of success when it comes to something as simple as rolling out an upgrade to implementing a new ERP. Your IT change management tool can set you up for success in more ways than one - choose wisely.

If you want to know more about automating and streamlining IT change management at your organization, speak to our team of experts today.


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Frequently asked questions

What is IT change management as per ITIL?
What are examples of IT change management?
What are the three types of IT changes?
Does Atomicwork support ITIL-aligned IT change management?

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