Change management vs organizational change management

If you have read the previous article Change management process in IT projects, you already know the basic definition of the change management and how it affects the IT environment. In this article, we want to discuss change management using IT services as an example.

Before we go into details, let’s point out the fundamental difference between change management in an IT service/project and organizational change management. In IT literature, these two terms are very often used in a similar context and thus can be misunderstood.

The difference comes primarily from the area that the change is affecting. When we talk about organizational change management (OCM), we mean high-level change that affects the entire organization. In this case, the change management or OCM process supports the organization’s transformation from where it is to where it is supposed to be through planned improvements. The goal, of course, is to minimize disruption and its effects during this process.

Change management in a service/IT project concerns a certain part of the whole organization: it focuses only on change’s direct impact on the product – service or project. The verification of whether the business need and its  change are beneficial to the end-users is at the core of change management. That is, whether they will not cause an effect opposite to the one intended and will not worsen the comfort of their work. If there is such a risk – it must be minimized.

Who in the service takes responsibility for the tasks listed above? They belong to the change authority – a role that can be performed by one person or a group, depending on the organization’s standards (organizational culture and approach).


Types of IT service changes

Now that we know what change management is and who evaluates the potential of proposed changes, let’s focus on the types of changes in IT services. Information Technology Infrastructure Library 4 (ITIL4) distinguishes 3 basic types:

  • standard change – low-risk changes that are well documented and easy to understand or adapt. They most often do not require an additional authorization process. These changes are mostly submitted as Service Request or Operational Change. Risk Assessment occurs when we create a new procedure for their implementation or modify an existing one.
  • normal change – require planning, evaluation, and authorization. Depending on the risk level, authorization takes place at a different level of change authority. For example, for a low-risk change, one person authorized to make quick decisions may be selected whereas for high-risk changes, more than one person is responsible for the authorization (high management board).
  • emergency change – such changes must be implemented as soon as possible, most often with the partial omission of some process elements. In this case, it is acceptable to postpone the documentation preparation until implementation and reduce some testing tasks. To this type of change, a change authority group, consisting of high management representatives, is usually delegated, meaning people who know the business needs and all the risks in the process.


Change management communication and planning in IT service

Regardless of the implemented change’s type, in each case the inherent elements of change management are:

  • communication
  • planning

Communication concerning planned changes is the task of change authority – regardless of who plays this role. It is one of the most important element of the whole process as it largely determines how the change will be received. The key here is to correctly identify people involved in the change, both those who are responsible for its implementation and stakeholders. This improves not only the change implementation stage but also the subsequent processes. For example, communicating the change scope and potential risks to the Service Desk allows the team to be better prepared for an increased number of requests. You can read more about the importance of communication in The year of the pandemic – the change management workshop article.

One might venture to say that change management does not exist without communication – but although this seems obvious, it is not always reflected in practice.

It is the same with planning. In change management, it has a direct impact on:

  • communication – by preparing the stakeholders of that change in advance
  • implementation – by preparing the necessary resources

It is said that “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable,” as one American president said.

In change management, planning is so important that we will devote a separate article to it. This is our plan 🙂 Stay tuned!


  • Aleksandra Bartczak
  • Junior Service Delivery Manager
  • Associated with the world of IT and service management for over a year. She focuses her development on building relationships with customers and improving business processes. ITIL enthusiast and trainee.

    Privately a mother with a passion for baking cakes.

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