There have been several interpretations of what a change advisory board (CAB) is. Some say that it is a body consisting of business managers who provide the go/no-go decision, and some others interpret it as a technical group who hand out approvals. Which one do you reckon is the right interpretation?
What is a CAB?
ITIL is non-prescriptive. It states that you need a body to support the change manager in making decisions. So, considering both the points, a CAB can consist of whoever it is who can help the change manager in assessing and analyzing the changes. As pointed out earlier, it can be a set of business manager or technical folks, as long as they understand the change presented on the table, and have the right skillsets to disseminate it.
How does CAB support Change Management?
Apart from helping change management in analyzing the change, the CAB also supports in the scheduling and prioritization of changes.
Some changes need to be rescheduled due to conflicts with other changes, conflicts with critical business activities and other technical and business reasons. The CAB being represented by businesses and customers can help in this regard.
A technical manager who can understand the change going in, can help prioritize a change through the assessment of risk and impact that the change brings in.
What are the types of CAB?
Broadly, there are two types of CAB – the normal CAB and the emergency CAB (ECAB). In this blogpost, I will concentrate on the different types of normal CABs that exist in practices today. I will discuss on ECAB in a future post.
ITIL does not specify how a CAB should be run, and how many CABs should exist. Every organization must decide what is good for them and create as many CABs as they need. A word of caution is that too many governance layers in the form of multiple CABs is bad for business.
In a typical large organization, you might see a technical CAB, generally referred to as infrastructure or application CAB where the technicalities of the change are assessed, and broken down for clarity, and risks and impacts identified.
At the next layer, you could have a central CAB or an enterprise CAB, covering an enterprise on a whole or maybe a particular geographical region. Changes in this CAB are analyzed by the CAB stakeholders, who represent the entire enterprise. These CABs are generally not very technical in nature.
Some biggies might have another layer of governance through a global CAB where global representatives from across the globe leverage on their wisdom to make decisions. In this CAB, only the most critical changes could get represented, and are analyzed from a high level. Technicalities would generally be kept away, unless somebody questions it.
So, in essence, you might have as many CABs as you need. There is no limit, but make sure that the objective of supporting the change manager with the decision stays, and does not end up being a bureaucratic structure, which only acts as a hurdle and overhead.