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Standard Vs Normal Vs Emergency Changes

Change management supports the three types of service changes ITIL describes: standard, emergency, and normal. The change type determines which state model is invoked and the change process that must be followed.

What is change management?

Standard Vs Normal Vs Emergency

AspectStandard ChangeNormal ChangeEmergency Change
DefinitionPre-approved, low-risk changes with a predefined process and minimal oversightPlanned changes with a moderate level of risk, typically following a defined process with some oversight.Unplanned, high-priority changes are required to resolve critical incidents or mitigate severe risks.
Pre-Approval Required?Yes, pre-approval is required from the Change Advisory Board (CAB).Yes, pre-approval is required from the CAB or a Change Manager.No pre-approval is required; the change can be implemented immediately.
Change WindowChanges are implemented during predefined, low-impact periods.Changes are scheduled during normal maintenance windows.Implemented as soon as possible to address the emergency situation.
DocumentationStandardized documentation is required, but it’s typically less extensive than for normal changes.Comprehensive documentation is required, including a detailed change plan and back-out plan.Documentation may be minimal or created after the change is implemented.
Risk AssessmentTypically low risk due to pre-approval and well-defined procedures.Moderate risk, assessed and mitigated through the change process.High risk, but necessary to address immediate issues. Risk mitigation may occur post-implementation.
CAB InvolvementCAB review and approval are required before implementation.CAB or Change Manager involvement for review and approval.Minimal or no CAB involvement, as speed is crucial.
Change ProcessFollows a streamlined, predefined process.Follows a structured, documented process.May follow an expedited process or no formal process at all.
TestingTesting is performed but may be less extensive compared to normal changes.Comprehensive testing is required, including rollback testing.Limited or no testing before implementation.
Back-out PlanA Back-out plan is required but may be less detailed.A detailed Back-out plan is mandatory.A Back-out plan may be minimal or created after implementation.
Review and ClosureA post-implementation review may occur but is typically less formal.A formal review and closure process are required.The post-implementation review may be informal or deferred.

Please note that the specific processes and terminology may vary between organizations, but this table provides a general overview of the differences between Standard, Normal, and Emergency changes in the context of ServiceNow Change Management. Organizations may also have their customized workflows and definitions for these change types.

What is Normal Change?

  • Any service change that is not a standard change or an emergency change.
  • Normal change requests follow a prescriptive process which requires two levels of approval before being implemented, reviewed, and closed.
  • These changes require a full range of assessments and authorizations such as peer or technical approval, change management, and Change Advisory Board (CAB) authorization, to ensure completeness, accuracy, and the least possible disruption to service.
  • These changes are most often scheduled outside of defined change blackout windows or during defined maintenance windows.
  • The normal type is used to implement beneficial change for any change to a service that is not a standard or emergency change.

What is Standard Change?

  • A standard change is a pre-authorized change that is low risk, relatively common and follows a specified procedure or work instruction.
  • A standard change is frequently implemented, has repeatable implementation steps, and has a proven history of success.
  • As Standard changes are pre-approved, they follow a streamlined process in which group-level or peer approval and CAB authorization steps are not required.
  • Approved standard change requests can be predefined in a catalogue of templates to make accessing and requesting a standard change more efficient.
  • This ability also enables the Change Management team to control the changes that are authorized as standard

What is Emergency Change?

  • A change that must be implemented as soon as possible, for example, to resolve a major incident or implement a security patch.
  • This change is of such a high priority that it bypasses group and peer review and approval and goes straight to the Authorization state for approval by the CAB approval group.
  • Emergency changes cover the following types of emergencies:
    • Fix on fail or retroactive situations where the impact to service has already been experienced
    • Fail or fail situations where the impact to service is imminent if action is not taken
  • These changes do not follow the complete life cycle of a normal change due to the speed with which they must be authorized.
  • Therefore, they progress directly to the authorised state for approval from the CAB Approval group.
  • During an emergency change, there are chances that an unplanned CI change activity occurs
  • .During such a case, an unauthorized change request is created and sent for approval.

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