I hear a lot about change control these days. During the Churchill Club CIO panel discussion last week, Randall Spratt, CIO of McKesson Corp., talked about the quality of the change management function as an indicator of whether an IT project will succeed or fail. Enterprises are constantly making application, business process and infrastructure modifications—patching, upgrading, consolidating, tweaking--which can spiral out of control and lead to negative consequences, such as applications crashing and service disruptions.
Mercury Interactive is touting its new Change Control Management application as a way to reduce the risk associated with making changes. Christopher Lochhead, chief marketing officer at Mercury, told me that the new application automates what has been a mostly manual process for change advisory boards (CABs), the IT and business people making decisions on change requests.
“IDC says that 80 percent of business critical service disruptions can be attributed to poor change control,” Lochhead said. “Yankee group says that a global enterprise can make 30,000 changes a day. There is tremendous pressure on IT focus on business results, such as how many orders per hour, and the rate of change is accelerating. Companies are doing it in a manual way, aggregating spreadsheets, using gut feel to make decisions and praying that nothing bad happens.”
“Most enterprises have no clue which changes impact critical business services. The CAD sits in room and goes through lists of changes and schematics, 50 to 100 people going through every change. They try to make judgment calls on what they should approve and let go forward, but they don’t know what has high or low impact, the business risk, what might collide with one another. It might be several things, like 100 things hitting SAP environment at the same time,” added Robin Purohit, Mercury's vice president of application management products.
Mercury Change Control Management aggregates change requests from disparate service desk products into a unified ITIL compliant view, identifies the impact of changes, generates business impact analysis using pre-defined policies, identifies potential collisions between multiple requests and automatically notifies key
stakeholders; and has calendaring capabilities for viewing change scheduling. It requires Mercury's Application Mapping (part of the company's business business technology optimization suite), which discovers what products are deployed and the relationships between applications and the underlying infrastructure. Pricing is based on the number of applications undergoing impact analysis and by the number of servers the applications run on, Purohit said. He also claimed Mercury is ahead of competitors, such as CA, BMC HP and IBM, in automating change management. "We are catching the competition by surprise."
Related to the new product introduction, Mercury commissioned The Economist to do a survey of over 1,000 IT executives about what parts of the business are most vulnerable to risk and the most feared outcomes.
Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit Report Findings – May 2006 - Global Survey of 1,077 IT Executives and Managers