Change advisory boards (CABs) exist to ensure that all business-affecting changes are tested, reviewed, and approved such that change activity delivers value without crippling the rest of the business. If you want to know how best to operate your change advisory board, here are our ten top tips for getting the most out of your CAB.
Tip #1: Know your appetite for risk.
Risk is very specific to the environment you operate in and will mean different things to different stakeholders. Highly regulated industries such as finance or the pharmaceutical industries will have a lower tolerance for risk than say a software house. So, set up your CAB accordingly.
Tip #2: Streamline your CAB meeting.
Not all changes need to go to the CAB. Use change models and delegated authority to ensure that only the high-risk, high-impact changes go to CAB. The reality is that CABs aren’t there to review every change to the nth degree – it’s instead in place as a safety net to look after the big stuff. Unfortunately, if you overrun it with business as usual (BAU)-type work it will become a bottleneck and, worse still, your attendees will become so overworked that something important on a major change may be missed.
Tip #3: Include terms of reference in your CAB meeting request.
Make sure that your agenda covers your planned change schedule, a review of any implemented changes, and a retrospective on any emergency changes implemented since the last meeting. Make sure that your people know what’s expected of them, so they know what’s being covered well in advance and can do the necessary pre-work.
Tip #4: Make your change schedule carry the load.
Make it carry the heavy lifting by configuring it to communicate planned change activity. To add value, your change schedule should include the following information:
- Change reference
- Implementation team
- Implementation window.
Structuring your change schedule to clearly state the change overview, service, and deployment window will make change activity more visible, increasing transparency across your organization and lead to more informed decision making.
Tip #5: Get involved.
Your CAB is only as strong as its least engaged member, so make sure that it’s made up of the right people. Make sure that each support team has at least one CAB representative with pre-agreed delegates to cover in the event of annual leave or travel.
Tip #6: Look at implemented changes.
Review your implemented changes to see what worked and what needs to be improved upon next time. If it helps, do it on an exceptions basis such that not everything gets reviewed in detail – just failed changes or suggestions for continual improvement.
Tip #8: Don’t forget emergency changes!
Have a section for each CAB dedicated to emergency changes and ask the awkward questions:
- Was the change truly an emergency?
- Was there a related incident or problem record?
- Was a clear justification added to the change record afterward explaining the need to follow the emergency workflow in language that’s understood by all?
Tip #8: Improve your governance by working with the release board.
Have a member of the CAB attend the release board if your company runs one such that you’re up to date on any planned releases and when they’ll need to be scheduled. There’s nothing worse than having a request (or, being completely honest, a directive from the business) for a major release to be made live as soon as possible. So, by attending the release board you reduce the likelihood of this.
Tip #9: Tell people how you’d like them to represent changes.
All too often, time is wasted in CAB meetings by people who are unsure of how to represent a change. We’ve seen people get flustered, miss out key details, or go into too much depth about the work involved – causing meetings to become less effective. Fun fact: if it takes you 20 minutes to explain a change, then people WILL tune out. Train your people to represent changes effectively, ensuring that the service affected, risk, implementation effort, and timings are all understood.
Tip #10: Availability is the name of the game.
Make sure that any downtime is pre-agreed, authorized by the correct service manager, and communicated to the user base with as much notice as possible.
Looking for a little more in-depth advice around successful CAB’s? Check out our other tips blog here.
What CAB tips would you add to these? Please let us know in the comments.