Change management is a process that helps organizations manage and control changes to their processes, systems, and technology. Effective change management helps organizations minimize the risk and impacts associated with the changes while ensuring that all benefits of the respective changes are realized.
The Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) is the process of planning, designing, developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining software applications. The change management process in the SDLC ensures that changes are made in a controlled and systematic manner, minimizing the risk of errors or negative impacts on the application/product or its users.
The change management process provides a higher level of control and consistency within the SDLC. It assesses the impact of the change and identifies risks to help the organization manage any potential negative effects on the application/product or its users. Additionally, the change management process provides the organization with transparency into the SDLC – allowing stakeholders and senior management to understand and track all changes made to the application/product.
Benefits of a change management process
|Quality||Reduced Risk||Efficiency||Collaboration||Regulatory Compliance|
|Organizations can improve the quality of their products by ensuring that changes are performed, tested, and approved in a controlled environment. This minimizes the risk of errors or negative impacts on the application/product or its users.||Change management controls, like segregation of duties (SoD), reduces the risk of unauthorized changes being made to applications/products.||A consistent and transparent process for change management increases the efficiency of SDLC processes.||Change management encourages collaboration and effective communication between all stakeholders in the SDLC, including analysts, developers, testers and project managers.||The organization’s change management process helps to ensure that software changes are compliant with various laws, regulations and frameworks. This helps reduce the risk of non-compliance legalities and increase the trust with customers/stakeholders.|
A starting point for change management
An organization can implement a compliant change management process by first establishing a change management policy. The policy must be tailored to the specific needs and risks of the organization’s technology environment. The policy must be reviewed and updated by management (at least annually) to ensure that the change management process remains effective in the organization.
The policy should address the following elements:
Change management processes: The policy should define a clear and documented process for requesting, analyzing, approving, and implementing changes to the application/product. This can include details such as the types of changes that require approval, the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved, and the criteria for evaluating the risks/benefits of the proposed changes.
Change management team: The policy should identify a change management team responsible for reviewing, approving, testing, and implementing all potential changes. The team should include employees from relevant business units within the organization, including IT, security, and analysts.
Review and approval process: A formal process for reviewing and approving changes must be established. This can include a documented workflow for submitting, reviewing, and approving change requests. Additionally, the policy can highlight the required technologies in the organization for each step of the change management process.
Testing: The policy should include requirements for testing and reviewing changes before implementation to ensure no unexpected downtime. Testing criteria and procedures can be defined for evaluating the success of the change.
Rollback procedures: Procedures for rolling back changes in case of failure or unexpected downtime must be documented. This can include identifying the roles and responsibilities of all employees involved in the rollback process, as well as the steps required to revert systems to its previous state.
Record-keeping: The policy should state that all changes are documented and recorded, and details on the change request, approval process, testing, and verification must be included. This information should be stored in a secure and centralized location for all the relevant stakeholders.
Compliance requirements: Adherence to regulatory/compliance requirements can be documented in the policy to ensure that the change management process is followed as per industry best practice.
Change management and compliance
Organizations can achieve compliance with SOC 2 and ISO 27001 by implementing rigorous change management policies and procedures.
Organizations must have a documented change management process that includes the following key elements:
|SOC 2||ISO 27001|
|Clearly defined change management policies and procedures, including a process for identifying, assessing, and approving changes.||A formal process for identifying, evaluating, and approving changes to the information security management system (ISMS).|
|A designated change management team is responsible for overseeing the change management process to ensure that changes are implemented securely.||Documentation of all changes, including details on the nature of the change, the resources required, the rationale for the change, and all associated risks or impacts.|
|Regular monitoring and reporting of changes, including tracking of change requests, approvals, and implementation.||Appropriate testing and validation of changes to ensure that they are implemented as per the change management policy and do not introduce new vulnerabilities or risks.|
|Appropriate controls to manage the risks associated with changes, including SoD, testing, validation, and rollback procedures.||Regular review and assessment of the change management policy and process to ensure its ongoing effectiveness within the organization.|
Overall, both SOC 2 and ISO 27001 compliance frameworks require organizations to implement comprehensive change management processes including clear and approved policies and procedures, designated change management teams, effective controls, and continuous monitoring and reporting. This helps ensure that all changes within the SDLC are managed in a secure and controlled manner, reducing the risk of unauthorized changes, information security incidents, and breaches.