How to measure Change Management efficiency according to ITIL

A desire for efficiency is deeply rooted in most of the professionals I’ve met. And that’s logical, because to be professional, but inefficient… well, that doesn’t make sense. ITIL provides a framework for IT Service Management (ITSM) excellence, i.e., efficiency. Change Management is one of the most important processes within the scope of ITIL, because inefficiency in the Change Management process will have far-reaching consequences visible by the customers. Read the article 5 benefits of ITIL Change Management implementation to learn more about the influence of the Change Management process on the organization’s business.

Here we get to the issue – how do we measure the efficiency? And, first of all, why do we measure it; i.e., what is the motivation to invest resources (like people’s time and money) in the measurement of Change Management efficiency? Let’s see in more detail.

Why measure?

ITIL, as a framework, provides a pretty good theory as a basis for measurements. Here are the reasons, i.e., motivation for measuring something:

  • To validate – to be sure whether your decision was correct (e.g., to check whether the desired effect of a change has been achieved)
  • To direct – to direct your activities in the desired direction (often used by Change Management to manage change implementation)
  • To justify – to get evidence or proof (e.g., to measure the activity of a certain system and compare it with the future state)
  • To intervene – to identify a point of intervention (e.g., once you see that change implementation won’t be achieved within the required timeframe, you should start a remediation procedure)

There is one more thing you need to make clear inside your ITSM organization – who is responsible. If you are a smaller organization, most probably you have a single Change Manager, and that’s the person responsible for measurements. In a larger organization, there are situations when you have several Change Managers (e.g., if there are a lot of changes, usually there are smaller ones that need to be implemented in a short period of time). In that case, you will have a process owner who will be responsible for ensuring that measurements are taken, and who will decide what to do with them (usually passing the activities to Change Managers).

How do we measure?

There is one thing we need to make clear – there is no instrument or software that takes the measurements we are talking about here. Compare Change Management with, e.g., the Incident Management process. If you want to measure the efficiency of Incident Management, you can simply measure how much time you need to resolve an incident. Meaning, how much time passed from the moment when the incident record (or, as many people name it – ticket) was created until the technician resolved the ticket, i.e., implemented a permanent or temporary solution and set the incident status as Resolved?

Change Management is a bit different. Measuring the time from when a Request for Change (trigger for change) is received until the change is implemented sounds simple. But, it’s not like that. Namely, before a change goes into implementation, it needs to be evaluated and analyzed. That can take time (which is hard to predict, because it is change-specific). Further on, when change implementation begins – it’s usually a project in itself, and every implementation is different from the previous one. Therefore, it’s hard to define the “standard time for change implementation” and measure the change team’s efficiency according to it.

So, what can be done? The Change Management process usually uses Critical Success Factors (CSF – it’s your description of success) and respective Key Performance Indicators (KPI – it’s how you measure whether a CSF has been achieved) to measure efficiency. To define CSFs and their KPIs, focus on what you need to achieve (your CSF) and how to prove whether your goal has been achieved (KPI – that’s something you can measure, count, or use some other method to get the exact figure). See the table below to get a feeling for what it means in the real world.

Efficiency in change implementation Increase in number of changes implemented without invocation of remediation procedure
Decrease in number of incidents that are the result of change implementation
Decrease in time when service was unavailable
Decrease in number of failed changes

Table: Example of CSF and KPIs

As you can see from the example, your first impression when measuring the efficiency of Change Management is descriptive, but at the end you will have exact figures in front of you. That’s good, because you are not working with someone’s opinion or impression, and your management will like that, too.

And… what’s next?

One thing is to know the facts (i.e., the result of the measurements), but the other thing is – what to do with it. Improve! Now you have hard facts and you can make sound decisions in order to be better, i.e. more efficient.

As with any other process, by measuring the efficiency of the Change Management process, you know where you are. Assuming you know where you want to be (meaning, having a goal) – it’s easy to define in which direction to go. Getting back to the reality – KPIs and measurements will provide valuable information as to how good, or bad, your Change Management is. After that – it’s up to you to make it right, or not. And, don’t forget – the stakes are big, sometimes life and death.

Use this free  ITIL GAP Analysis Tool to check your Change Management process compliance with ITIL recommendations.

Advisera Branimir Valentic
Branimir Valentic
Branimir is an expert in IT service management (consultancy, training and tools), IT governance (training and consulting), project management and consultancy in IT and telecommunication. He holds the following certificates: ITIL Expert, ISO 20000, ISMS Lead Auditor and PRINCE2.