Are the ITIL Change Management and Release and Deployment processes the same thing?

I wrote a recent blog about Royal Bank of Scotland and how the bank landed itself a £56 million fine and £125 million of associated costs because of faulty release and deployment management.

After writing that blog, I had some questions that I wanted answering regarding the Release and Deployment Management and Change Management processes in ITIL®. In particular, I was wondering whether they are in fact one and the same thing.

To get started, I thought I would go back to the core publications in the ITIL Lifecycle Publication Suite; I happen to have access via an online subscription. Making a beeline for the Service Transition publication where I know these processes are located, I spent some time re-reading the guidance. I must admit to not having studied the manuals in some time.

Having looked at the core guidance, there are many similarities between the two processes, with their aims being very similar – i.e. to manage changes and releases into the live environment in a controlled way, while managing the risks.

In fact, the core ITIL guidance in the Service Transition manual actually states that integrating Release and Deployment Management and Change Management into one holistic approach is usually best for most organisations.

But what are the differences?

The intentions behind the processes are where the main differences lie. While Change Management is intended to be used with most minor, individual and general changes, Release and Deployment Management is primarily aimed at being used with large sets of grouped changes (also known as a release). A release can include changes to hardware, software, documentation, processes and other components.

Prior to ITIL 2007 being released, with its focus on the service lifecycle approach, Change Management and Release and Deployment Management were part of a consolidated change process called Change Management, with other components such as Service Validation and Testing, Transition Planning and Support, and Evaluation being split out at the same time.

One wonders if a more holistic approach to change management wouldn’t be better. What do you think?

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  1. Stuart Rance (@StuartRance) 10th December 2014
  2. @JoseH_TI 12th December 2014
  3. Andrzej Adamczyk 15th December 2014
  4. itskeptic 19th December 2014
  5. Jamie Titchener 19th January 2015