change managment

e24ohme24ohm Member Posts: 151
Folks:
I am trying to think of a constructive way to keep track of all the changes I make to my infrastructure; however, I am finding it difficult to keep a coherent order of all the changes.

Currently I use one master log file (a .docx file), which shows all my daily notes. The latter also details changes I made to any device; however, I am not sure if this is the best way and thinking about keeping individual files for each device, but I am not sure if that is the best as well.

I need some feed back or suggestions on what you use to keep a record or how you format and keep records of changes to the infrastructure. What you find that works, and what doesn’t…


Thank you.
Utini!

Comments

  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    e24ohm wrote: »
    Folks:
    I am trying to think of a constructive way to keep track of all the changes I make to my infrastructure; however, I am finding it difficult to keep a coherent order of all the changes.

    Currently I use one master log file (a .docx file), which shows all my daily notes. The latter also details changes I made to any device; however, I am not sure if this is the best way and thinking about keeping individual files for each device, but I am not sure if that is the best as well.

    I need some feed back or suggestions on what you use to keep a record or how you format and keep records of changes to the infrastructure. What you find that works, and what doesn’t…


    Thank you.

    What you could do is create a change log and keep it at a high level like your doing now and then cascade another document that goes into more detail per change. Link them by a unique number change log id 12345 and make sure it's in the detailed log document. You could host those on a SharePoint site or a network share for your team members and other stakeholders to have access too.

    We created our change log/register in Excel and broke the changes down by month. We utilized a change form which we keep and track. Then if the change is approved or accepted we then added it to the change register/log.

    I did a google search of templates and found this one.
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CEUQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww2.cdc.gov%2Fcdcup%2Flibrary%2Ftemplates%2FCDC_UP_Change_Management_Log_Template.xls&ei=4f_WTpjJMcmw2QWg9JixDg&usg=AFQjCNEEl1WLagLjkyVpWH3T4GugMnIxeg

    Personally I would keep my changes tracked in Excel for the higher overview document and then break them out in DOCX if you want a seperate log for each one with more detail. Just label them by log id number that links back to the Excel sheet. With Excel you can utilize filters and if done properly can create reports straight from Excel. We do that as well.

    You could also create a Microsoft Access database and utilize the form / tables to create a mini change management applications, however you run the risk of one person maintaining the software and if they leave you are stuck with no one.

    Of course utilize any system they may have available with the change management functionality. Does the incident management/ problem management system have a change management module that can be used? I'm of course making an assumption that you use one in your environment.
  • Forsaken_GAForsaken_GA Member Posts: 4,024
    I'd sincerely recommend using a change management system meant for the purpose (we use JIRA), or at the very least a ticketing system.

    Master files are great for starting out with, but when you need the ability to quickly search and categorize (and when those needs change, and they will) it's very time consuming to do so.

    For important devices and/or services, we maintain the Wiki pages as well. Personally, if I were building out an IT department, I'd require everyone to enter their changes into the change management app, and then hire one guy who's only job would be to reconcile existing or create new documentation based on the entries into the change management system.
  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I'd sincerely recommend using a change management system meant for the purpose (we use JIRA), or at the very least a ticketing system.

    Master files are great for starting out with, but when you need the ability to quickly search and categorize (and when those needs change, and they will) it's very time consuming to do so.

    For important devices and/or services, we maintain the Wiki pages as well. Personally, if I were building out an IT department, I'd require everyone to enter their changes into the change management app, and then hire one guy who's only job would be to reconcile existing or create new documentation based on the entries into the change management system.

    Absolutely

    Best practice is to consolidate all changes into a central repository. My last gig we used Remedy change manager which worked well.

    However, I am assuming the OP is using Word out of lack of toolsets.
  • e24ohme24ohm Member Posts: 151
    I'd sincerely recommend using a change management system meant for the purpose (we use JIRA), or at the very least a ticketing system.

    Master files are great for starting out with, but when you need the ability to quickly search and categorize (and when those needs change, and they will) it's very time consuming to do so.

    For important devices and/or services, we maintain the Wiki pages as well. Personally, if I were building out an IT department, I'd require everyone to enter their changes into the change management app, and then hire one guy who's only job would be to reconcile existing or create new documentation based on the entries into the change management system.

    We currently use a ticketing system "track-it"; however, that doesn't really give me the change management log/record I am looking for. I like the looks of JIRA; however, all the videos on the site are in Japanese. I am searching youtube for videos right now.
    Utini!
  • e24ohme24ohm Member Posts: 151
    N2IT wrote: »
    Absolutely

    Best practice is to consolidate all changes into a central repository. My last gig we used Remedy change manager which worked well.

    However, I am assuming the OP is using Word out of lack of toolsets.

    I wish I was using a toolset; however, I am only using a formated word documented that I developed for this role.

    thanks
    Utini!
  • Forsaken_GAForsaken_GA Member Posts: 4,024
    N2IT wrote: »
    Absolutely

    Best practice is to consolidate all changes into a central repository. My last gig we used Remedy change manager which worked well.

    However, I am assuming the OP is using Word out of lack of toolsets.

    Well, there are plenty of free tools out there. OTRS or RT for ticketing, Redmine for Project Management (which works pretty well for change management too), many many Wiki's. So the tools are there, it's just a matter of investing the time to get them up and running.

    At work, we use JIRA and Confluence (although some teams use Sharepoint) as our change management and wiki's. I like JIRA and Confluence enough at work, that I went ahead and popped the 10 bucks for the 10 user licenses on both of them for personal use.
  • ptilsenptilsen Member Posts: 2,835 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Jira, Confluence, Sharepoint, and Connectwise are good picks. A good ticketing system is at least as important as a good change management system, and they usually go hand in hand.
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  • Daniel333Daniel333 Member Posts: 2,077 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Change management sucks.

    The best way to get your change management right, is to get your base documentation right. Once you have that down in an organized method you can just version check your docs into sharepoint. I highly recommend reading the MOF guide.

    Use something like Perforce to track your config files. Advanced group policy manager is always helpful. If you are using vmware it's VERy easy just plug some storage in and back your whole server farm up and offsite it.
    -Daniel
  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    ptilsen wrote: »
    Jira, Confluence, Sharepoint, and Connectwise are good picks. A good ticketing system is at least as important as a good change management system, and they usually go hand in hand.

    Both you guys have me interested in looking into JIRA and Confluence.

    I learn something everyday. Thanks
  • Forsaken_GAForsaken_GA Member Posts: 4,024
    Daniel333 wrote: »
    Change management sucks.

    Yeah, i agree. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil if you have more than, say, three people who touch the systems. If you have a whole myriad of teams that touch stuff, it is worth every penny to setup a good system from the word go and make it easy and efficient, otherwise you'll waste a whole lot of man hours chasing down who did what to which systems and why.
  • dustinmurphydustinmurphy Member Posts: 170
    At my last company, we had a formal change management system that started as a paper-driven system (it was like 5 pages)... which proved to be very time consuming. Many times the change management paperwork took longer to prepare than the actual change. We changed to an online change management system (I can't remember the name) and it was possible to get approvals from management, etc very easily. I am the IT Manager at my current position, starting from scratch, I built their systems. I was too busy to really track changes, however I made sure my documentation on the network, server builds, router/switch/firewall configs, etc was flawless. All projects I performed were documented and updated as necessary.

    Honestly, good change management skills are difficult to master, when in a very high-pressured environment. If it's a small environment, a Word/Excel doc are fine. It would be BETTER to get all changes put into a database or even as recommended, a source control. There are many different solutions for source control. If you have access to VM, a small Linux server using subversion is a quick, and essentially free source control system. I would recommend some other method that utilizes a DB for easy searching and trackability. At some point, you can even create a FAQ.

    BTW - WSS is free (Windows Sharepoint Services), but it takes a bit of configuring to get it to work properly. ;)
  • EveryoneEveryone Member Posts: 1,661
    The big companies I've worked at have all used Remedy for Change Management.

    When I was working at a Hospital, they were trying to use their ticketing system, ServiceDesk+, to start implementing some change management. I was trying to get them to use some of the new features in Exchange 2010 to help with the approval part of change management, since ServiceDesk+ didn't seem to do that well.
  • tpatt100tpatt100 Member Posts: 2,991 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I am writing a change management policy as part of a "starting from scratch" audit program. I am having a hard time explaining to my managers how important change management is to auditing. They have a ticketing system but they don't track anything hardware/software related, its just for help desk ticket tracking.
  • phoeneousphoeneous Go ping yourself... Member Posts: 2,333 ■■■■■■■□□□
    If you can learn it, go for Sharepoint and build a wiki. I see Sharepoint skills in demand everywhere, so learning it will help build your skillset.
  • e24ohme24ohm Member Posts: 151
    Thanks everyone for their contributions to this thread and the issue I face.
    Utini!
  • e24ohme24ohm Member Posts: 151
    phoeneous wrote: »
    If you can learn it, go for Sharepoint and build a wiki. I see Sharepoint skills in demand everywhere, so learning it will help build your skillset.

    My compnay uses Sharepoint; however, I find it a pain to deal with; however, you are very correct about the item being in demand.
    Utini!
  • TLeTourneauTLeTourneau Well ain't that shiny! Member Posts: 616 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Spiceworks has a change management component and it's free.
    Thanks, Tom

    M.S. - Cybersecurity and Information Assurance
    B.S: IT - Network Design & Management
  • phoeneousphoeneous Go ping yourself... Member Posts: 2,333 ■■■■■■■□□□
    e24ohm wrote: »
    My compnay uses Sharepoint; however, I find it a pain to deal with; however, you are very correct about the item being in demand.

    I'm terrible with Sharepoint...
  • cisco_troopercisco_trooper Too many Member Posts: 1,441 ■■■■□□□□□□
    e24ohm wrote: »
    My compnay uses Sharepoint; however, I find it a pain to deal with; however, you are very correct about the item being in demand.

    +1

    We have dumped SharePoint for Confluence. I don't particularly care for JIRA, but I believe it can integrate with Confluence and SharePoint just plain sucks in my opinion. Perhaps the person who set SharePoint up at my company didn't do it right or something but we had to download a file, modify it, and re-upload it to make any changes and a busy IT department simply isn't going to do that. I actually refused to use it and kept my documentation elsewhere. I'm on board for Confluence. I love the wiki markup and the ability to link everything together. I think I'm going to recommend a change log wiki page on Confluence and see how that works for us. We grew fast so we have organizational issues.
  • e24ohme24ohm Member Posts: 151
    Thank you everyone for posting. I am going to mark this thread as answered, since everyone provided a great deal of helpful ideas.

    cheers everyone!!!
    Utini!
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