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The House That Change Built… Or Was It Release?

Posted By Matt Hoey, 31 January 2017

There are some pairs of things in this world where it is not always crystal clear what the actual difference between them is. Mist and fog for example, gammon and ham; and in Service Management, change and release.

How do you differentiate between change and release?

For the latter, you can of course look to the best practice text books, but given they’re written to be completely generic to the culture, ethos and inner workings of organisations, it’s not always easy to understand how the standard definition applies to your situation. So how do you differentiate?

A change is very much a single-minded beast. It should have granular detail about the single functional objective it has been given authorisation to set out to achieve. The surrounding change management process makes sure it does it as described, and with as little risk as possible. A change rolls up its sleeves, and does the ‘doing’.

A change is very much a single-minded beast.

A release on the other hand is a much more holistic looking animal. It helps bring together what needs to happen, and in what sequence, to achieve the final goal. It also considers things beyond the technical aspects as in the ‘non-functional’. At its most simple Release Management process follows a Build -> Accept -> Deploy approach.

So, when do I need a release? And where do the changes come in?

To answer that, let’s go with an abstract analogy of building a house. At first sight, this seems like it is just a change. There’s a plot of land with nothing on it and you want to change it so there is a house there.

But let’s think of what’s involved... You’re going to need multiple teams of different skilled people working on different areas such as brick layers, plumbers, roofers plasterers, carpet layers and landscapers, to name but a few, to construct the house. They all need to a design to work from, time and notification of when to work on their tasks in order to contribute to the completion of the house to be ready for someone to move into on a certain date.

If this was an IT service you wouldn’t dream of having one change for multiple teams to work from – they’ve all got disparate, specific skilled tasks to achieve, and each comes with its own set of risks and approach to back out.

If this was an IT service you wouldn’t dream of having one change for multiple teams to work from

A release would definitely be appropriate here to bring together the separate changes that build the house (eg the brickwork, the roof, laying of carpets, installation of the bathroom units). It’ll take care of the non-functional requirements that aren’t technically changes – marketing the house for instance, informing the post office so mail can be delivered once someone is living in it.

Next, it will verify that the house is ready to be lived in (accept), and then, provide the means for the new owners to move in: the keys, dates, information on how the build in appliances work, etc (deploy).

Change and release both worked together to make it happen. Change focusing on the authorisation and doing, and release focusing on the bigger picture and ensuring quality.

This is, of course, a very brief narrative around the difference between change and release. You can find out more on the itSMF UK Change and Release workshop happening on February 2 in London.

However, it probably won’t cover the explanation that mist and fog are both similar but mist becomes fog when the visibility drops below 1000m, nor that gammon and ham are actually the same cut, it’s just that gammon is sold raw and ham is cooked or cured before it is sold!

Further reading

Tags:  business change  Release Management 

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SIAM and How to Deal with the People Side of Organisational Change

Posted By Administrator, 08 June 2016
Updated: 07 June 2016


Posted on behalf of the SIAM SIG – People and Change Working Group

Here in the SIAM SIG we've been working on a new project. We wanted to know what the key issues are that SIAM practitioners face today. 

We canvassed our members and had fantastic feedback. Overwhelmingly the response was that the big three issues for ITSM organsiations are: 

·      business change

·      managing the people side of change impact

·      achieving culture shift 

To research how much impact these issues have and how organisations can deal with them, we created the People and Change SIAM SIG working group.  

The group consists of SIAM practitioners, SIAM vendors, consultants and clients from across the ITSM sector.

In February this year, after pulling together their own experiences and knowledge of managing change and the resulting impacts, the group presented back to the SIAM SIG. 

Below is a write up of that presentation.


Managing Organisational Change

ITIL suggests that we put our people first. And rightly so.  All SIAM implementations involve a level of transformational change. Without the support of its people, a SIAM programme may not achieve its goals. 

There are many methods to deal with the impact on people as a whole. But these methods can lack understanding of the impact on individuals, and of the organisation’s underlying corporate culture.

A key message in managing organisational change involves understanding the individual impact of transformation change such as that required in SIAM.

The message is well presented in Spencer Johnsons book “Who moved my Cheese”. There is also a video on YouTube you can watch which sums up the message from the book 

 If you're short on time then start from about the 7 minute point.

After understanding this key impact upon individuals, implementing Organisation Change Management by adopting methods such as Kotter’s 8 steps can be more effectively undertaken. 

Once we have established a team for change or a team to be part of a new SIAM model, we should concentrate on building a new effective team. As part of this process we can leverage techniques such as “service animals” or “what Colour am I”. In essence it’s about understanding. Know your people, know your goals and be successful.  More details of these techniques are available for those who attended the SIAM SIG event on 29th Feb on the DropBox link which was distributed after the event.


ITSM People and Change

In the afternoon of the SIAM seminar, the working group facilitated a Work Café session on people and change. It was a great afternoon, and everyone was willing to get involved and add their own experiences and suggestions. The aim of the session was to look at the impact on people across the 4 understood operating models of SIAM:

·      retained SIAM

·      outsourced to Independent provider SIAM

·      hybrid SIAM (retained + independent)

·      tower led SIAM

For each model we looked at the biggest challenges, but also potential solutions and ideas to mitigate against these challenges. We also looked at other considerations that didn’t fall in to any of the 4 models. Moving from one model to the next, everyone had the opportunity to contribute to the observations and ideas. At the end of the session, we all had 3 votes to nominate what we felt were the greatest challenges, and a vote to nominate the best idea.

Of all the issues discussed the top 3 were:

  • Lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities. (Particularly highlighted for Hybrid and Independent models but noted as an issue affecting all SIAM implementations)
  • Retention of staff during times of uncertainty
  • Inappropriate contract negotiation and exit criteria

 There were some great ideas & suggestions, but unsurprisingly, the idea with the most votes was:

  • Clarify roles against industry standard definitions and develop a RASCI matrix. (Responsible, Accountable, Supporting, Consulted, Informed)

After a great event, the People and Change working group are looking to develop guidance around the issues and ideas identified on the day including how to achieve culture shift.


Stay tuned for more from the working party and the SIAM SIG soon.

Attending the SIAM SIG and benefiting from the great work they do is a member benefit. Click here to find out what other benefits you could receive as an ITSMF UK member. Alternatively, if you'd like to give membership a try contact the office on 0118 918 6509 and talk to us about our free six week trial.  


Tags:  business change  Organisational change  SIAM 

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