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Defining Metrics for Change Management

By | Originally published on April 28, 2014 in ITIL | Updated on September 12, 2017

Editor’s Note:
While reviewing the level of readership of our blogs, we couldn’t help but notice that certain blogs never lost their popularity over the years. This is one of them – with thousands of unique views every month. We thank Stuart Rance for his words of wisdom that clearly sustain longevity (the advice is as relevant today as it was when it was original published). So, ICYMI, we’re pleased to republish this blog for your convenience.

Change Management KPIs

I was working with a customer recently and they asked me what key performance indicators (KPIs) they should use to measure IT change management. After thinking about this for a while I offered them some suggestions, and I’m going to share them here, because the ideas may be useful to other people. Please don’t just copy the KPIs that I suggested for this customer, but look at the way we derived them and think about what you need to measure.

The first thing to do when you are thinking about KPIs is to decide what they are for. Who are the stakeholders for any reports that you will generate? In this case we wanted to measure the effect of process improvements that we were planning. The reports will be used by the change manager, the IT operations manager, the project management office (PMO) and the service level managers.


We spoke to the various stakeholders, to understand what was important to them and identified four critical success factors (CSFs) for change management. These CSFs were:

  1. Protect the business from the adverse impact of IT change
  2. Facilitate the rate of change that the business needs
  3. Provide knowledge and information about new and changed services needed by IT and business staff
  4. Make efficient use of IT resources

Your critical success factors may be very different to these, but you should be able to come up with a list that works for your stakeholders. Another good starting place to help you think about CSFs is the examples in the ITIL Service Transition book (but don’t copy these either).

The CSFs don’t have to be directly measurable, it is more important that they are words that the stakeholders agree with, and that summarize the outcomes they want from the IT change management process.
 
Learn about SysAid Change Management
 

The next step is to identify up to 3 KPIs that could help to demonstrate that you have achieved each CSF. The KPIs won’t “prove” that you achieved the CSF, but they will help to indicate how well you are doing against that CSF. It’s quite acceptable to have the same KPI for multiple CSFs, and it’s important not to define too many.

While we were thinking about change management KPIs we realized that we needed better data about change success. Every change was being marked as successful unless it had been backed out, but this didn’t give us the information we were going to need to establish our CSFs. We decided to evaluate each change based on:

  • Was the changed fully implemented, without needing to be backed out?
  • Did change implementation use the time and resources that were predicted?
  • Did the change cause any incidents?
  • Did the change deliver the results that the customer expected?

This resulted in us defining a number of change closure codes, to distinguish between changes that fully succeeded and those that had one or more issues. We also added a new incident closure code to indicate when an incident was caused by a change.

We could now define KPIs to support our CSFs.

CSF1 - Protect the business from the adverse impact of IT change

  • Reduced number and percentage of changes that cause incidents
  • Reduced total business impact of incidents caused by changes

CSF2 - Facilitate the rate of change that the business needs

  • Increased number and percentage of changes that used the predicted time and resources
  • Increased number and percentage of changes that delivered the results the customer expected
  • Increased satisfaction rating for change management from PMO and from end customers

CSF3 - Provide knowledge and information about new and changed services needed by IT and business staff

  • Increased percentage of changes that provided knowledge articles for the service desk
  • Increased satisfaction rating for change management from IT staff and from end customers

CSF4 - Make efficient use of IT resources

  • Increased number and percentage of changes that used the predicted time and resources
  • Reduced number and percentage of urgent and emergency changes

This resulted in a fairly small number of KPIs to measure and report, which were focused on what the stakeholders cared about, and could be used to help us understand the effect of process improvements that we were planning.

When did you last review the KPIs you use for change management? Why not review your change management KPIs and reporting and make them more valuable for you and your stakeholders?

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Update: Since writing this blog, Stuart has helped to write the publication ITIL Practitioner Guidance, which includes lots of helpful suggestions on how to define CSFs and KPIs.
 

Stuart Rance

About Stuart Rance

Stuart is an ITSM and security consultant, trainer, and author who has worked with clients in many countries, helping them create business value for themselves and their customers. He was the author of the 2011 edition of ITIL® Service Transition and lead author of RESILIA™ Cyber Resilience best practice published in June 2015. Now that his children have all left home, he has plenty of time on his hands for contributing to our blog - lucky us!
 

6 thoughts on “Defining Metrics for Change Management”

  1. Bharat

    This was indeed an interesting article.
    How can we measure “Reduced total business impact of incidents caused by changes”? Please explain

    Reply

    1. Stuart Rance Stuart Rance

      This isn’t easy to measure, but it is important.

      You should be able to measure the business impact of incidents by talking to your customers, that’s the only way to understand the real impact of incidents. You can use root cause analysis to identify which incidents were caused by changes. You can then look at trends over time to see if the business impact of change related incidents is going down.

      Reply

  2. ahmad yousuf

    Hello,

    How are you measuring the actual CSF’s, I am asking in terms of data that can be used to measure trends over time. For the KPI’s above?

    Thanks

    Reply

    1. Stuart Rance Stuart Rance

      Ahmad, The point I am making in this blog is that it is very hard to measure the CSFs. The best you can do is to measure the KPIs and look for trends in these, but you need to be aware that they don’t guarantee that the CSF has been achieved, they are just indicators.

      Sometimes you will realise that you didn’t achieve the CSF, even though you met all the KPIs. This usually means that you need to modify your KPIs so that they are a better indicator of the things you really care about.

      Reply

  3. Ashish

    I need to calculate Change acceptance rate – is that be calculated simply dividing acceptance changes by total submitted changes multiply 100 or something else? On web search, definition of change acceptance rate = accepted changes Vs rejected changes.

    Reply

  4. Stuart Rance Stuart Rance

    The obvious simple answer to your question is to take Number of submitted changes = Cs, Number of accepted changes =Ca and then calculate (Ca/Cs) * 100%, but whether this means anything, and whether it will help you to manage your changes is something you will have to decide.

    If somebody told me that I had to calculate change acceptance rate then I would ask them. “Why? What will this tell you?” and “How do you want me to calculate it”.

    Reply

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