ITSM for high-velocity teams

Why companies need a change advisory board

A well-implemented and efficiently operated change advisory board (CAB) is an invaluable corporate asset. A CAB not only approves changes within a company's IT landscape but also helps with assessing, prioritizing, and mitigating risk for a company. Their role is crucial in supporting change management and promoting smoother transitions.

This article discusses change advisory boards, including key roles and responsibilities and the tools and strategies needed for effective management.

What is a change advisory board (CAB)?

The CAB comprises a group of people from different facets of a business who provide oversight and guidance to change management teams. From the initiation of a change ticket to the post-implementation stage, the CAB offers multifaceted perspectives, recommendations, and course corrections. This fosters effective change management across the company.

The CAB serves as a decision-making body responsible for evaluating and endorsing modifications within a company's IT infrastructure. Its primary objective is to facilitate smooth transitions and minimize disruptions. 

CABs have shed the gatekeeper label and evolved into strategic advisors. They actively monitor evolving change patterns, suggest adaptive practices, and empower teams to deliver value while mitigating risks.

What does the change advisory board do?

The CAB carries out important functions, including evaluating proposed changes, gauging potential risks, and offering implementation recommendations.

CABs also:

  • Calculate the risks and consequences of potential changes
  • Review requests for change and evaluate their impact against available resources
  • Assist and support the change manager
  • Produce comprehensive change-related documentation
  • Ensure company-wide understanding of changes
  • Reduce overall company risk associated with changes
  • Iteratively improve the change management process
  • Implement change management software and facilitate training
  • Conduct exhaustive reviews of impending changes

Change advisory boards also monitor and assess the progress of initiatives to identify effective strategies. Observing initiative progress also helps find any underlying challenges that might affect ITIL-defined problem management or incident management.

Members of the change advisory board

The CAB, spearheaded by the change manager, ensures that individuals with relevant information, knowledge, and backgrounds are part of the board.

While no set rules govern CAB composition, diverse representation is important to ensure inclusive decision-making. An effective CAB includes business leaders and executives who collaborate to meet objectives. This includes nurturing professional courtesy within the group and across the business. They also offer different viewpoints, a shared desire for positive change, and a commitment to business continuity.

Below are the key individuals needed for a properly functioning CAB:

  • Change manager: The change manager leads the CAB meetings and has the final say in decision-making.
  • Service desk analysts: These individuals handle calls, document incidents, and escalate issues to a service desk manager. 
  • Operations manager: An operations manager is accountable for the day-to-day administration of the company.
  • Application manager or engineer: The application manager or engineer oversees the development and arrangement of applications and offers high-level knowledge of products and solutions.
  • Information security office: An information security officer delivers day-to-day network security and provides knowledge of probable threats or susceptibilities to applications and systems.
  • Senior network engineers: Senior network engineers supervise and manage a company’s networks and cloud infrastructures.
  • Business relationship manager: The business relationship manager works directly with customers and partners, offering insight into customer needs.

Why is a change advisory board important?

The continuous enhancement of IT services is important so your company can remain competitive. Addressing different types of change management is key to minimizing operational IT service risks and requires astute oversight. A well-run CAB ensures deliberate and well-planned change implementations, which reduces negative impacts and optimizes outcomes.

A proficient CAB allows a company to:

  • Implement changes efficiently
  • Provide smooth service transitions
  • Prevent service disruptions
  • Reduce risks
  • Align changes with company goals
  • Augment overall company stability and reliability
  • Minimize business disruptions

Responsibilities of the change advisory board

The CAB has many responsibilities, including:

Change assessment: The board oversees the review and evaluation of change proposals from various stakeholders. It determines the potential impact of the proposed changes and whether the change is feasible. It also ensures the change aligns with the company’s goals and objectives.

Risk analysis: A CAB reviews the potential impact of proposed changes on business processes, systems, and stakeholders while identifying possible threats to the company’s data and security.

Clear communication and documentation: The CAB documents proposed changes as well as those in progress, ideally leveraging knowledge management best practices. It is also the board's responsibility to communicate changes across the company. This helps manage the process and mitigate any negative impacts.

Decision-making: The board may also propose changes to processes, systems, or policies. This helps manage potential risks and improve efficiency. 

Leveraging change management software: Many companies use software to track and manage change. The CAB uses this software to ensure proper documentation, approval, and implementation.

Best practices for an effective change advisory board

To create an effective CAB, establish clear processes, define roles and responsibilities, and foster communication and collaboration among members. Use change advisory board best practices to ensure a successful CAB setup.

For a best-in-class CAB, follow these six steps:

  • Assess existing CAB gaps
  • Gain support for CAB improvement or creation
  • Identify the CAB owner
  • Create a standard CAB agenda
  • Determine the meeting cadence
  • Host CAB meetings, improve processes, and iterate

Refer to Atlassian’s change management best practices for ten key strategies to optimize change management processes and foster seamless collaboration and efficiency.

Use Jira Service Management for efficient advisory boards

Jira Service Management’s powerful and comprehensive capabilities can transform Change Advisory Boards. Designed to optimize team performance, Jira Service Management empowers seamless collaboration, accelerates service delivery, and enhances workflows across development, IT, and business teams. Built on the Jira platform, Jira Service Management covers an array of service management practices, spanning service requests, incidents, problems, changes, knowledge, assets, and configurations.

Jira Service Management integrates an intuitive service desk and automates risk assessment and approval routing. Its service configuration management minimizes downstream impacts by offering clear visibility into service and infrastructure dependencies. These robust features not only streamline change management processes but also empower CABs with enhanced efficiency.

By fostering collaboration through asynchronous teamwork, Jira Service Management becomes a catalyst for CABs and other stakeholders, facilitating the creation of communication plans, risk assessments, and best practice refinements. The platform's advanced features enable CABs to configure approval workflows tailored to diverse change types, associated risks, or CAB-specific procedures. This tailored approach ensures smoother processes, empowering relevant groups to collaboratively approve changes.

Further, Jira Service Management features enable change request referencing for a comprehensive view of changes, involved teams, and related work. By consolidating information from multiple CI/CD tools, it provides insights into affected services, risk scores, and necessary approvers—all conveniently accessible through a unified interface.

Try Jira Service Management

Change advisory board: Frequently asked questions

How does a change advisory board contribute to risk management?

The CAB is crucial in identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks associated with proposed changes. It contributes to a robust risk management framework by providing evidence and proposing risk mitigation plans.

Does a change advisory board promote collaboration?

Yes, a CAB fosters cross-functional collaboration among stakeholders–promoting diverse perspectives and active involvement in meetings–to ensure its decisions are aligned with the company’s strategies.

What is the relationship between ITSM and a CAB?

IT Service Management (ITSM) and Change Advisory Boards (CABs) are mutually beneficial. ITSM frameworks, such as ITIL, COBIT, and others, provide structured approaches to effectively manage IT services, aligning with the CAB's objectives of assessing, prioritizing, and mitigating risks for change within a company's IT landscape. At the same time, the CAB utilizes ITSM principles and practices to streamline change evaluation, enhance communication, and ensure the smooth implementation of changes across the company.