End of change restriction period – How we protect the University during its most critical business period

October 15th, 2014 | Posted by Jennifer Kennedy in Uncategorized

Protecting IT services - shu logo

Now that most of the confirmation, clearing and enrolment work is finished for this academic year, the annual IS&T change restrictions period has ended. This means we will revert to the usual process for handling requests for any changes to IT services.

The change restrictions period is one of a number of measures taken by IST to ensure a smooth and successful start of year period. Other measures include project board scrutiny for the cyclical replacement of IT and the roll out of the new 2014-15 suite of software. We also impose leave restrictions and carefully plan, liaise with our partners and monitor infrastructure for clearing.

What is the change restrictions period?

The change restrictions period is one of the ways we safeguard the University and its reputation during its most critical phase of business. We closely manage the amount of change that is made to IT services for a two month period (between the start of August and the beginning of October) to ensure a successful recruitment process and a good first impression for our new students.  It works well: This year the University has increased the number of students it has recruited and enrolment went according to plan.

Anything which might jeopardise this – either by introducing a new element into the complex mix of systems and processes operated by the University or by potentially tying up vital IS&T resources at the portfolio’s busiest time of year – has to be considered very carefully before it is allowed through.

Do you defer all changes to services during this period?

We only defer changes after considering all the implications. Obviously there are some requests that are so important that they can’t wait. For that reason, we apply an extra level of scrutiny to everything which is submitted to the Change Advisory Boards and look at how it might affect both student-facing and non-student facing services. This year, 50 IT service changes took place during this critical period – all of which were given the go ahead because the benefits to the University outweighed the additional risks presented by implementing change at this time of year.

What kinds of requests are allowed during this period?

We have an agreed set of criteria for a change to be allowed during this time:

  • It fixes (or prevents) an error or incident which is having (or is expected to have) a significant impact on the University’s services, reputation or security.
  • It introduces new or changed functionality as part of a University-approved project and it has been individually vetted in advance by the IS&T senior management change board (SuperCAB) who have agreed that the benefits of making the change in the restricted period are so great and/or so time-critical that they justify the increased risk.
  • It is part of a time-critical upgrade or annual maintenance project already agreed by the University and it has been individually vetted in advance as above.
  • It is part of the standard start-of-year processes that cannot be carried out in advance or be delayed. These changes should be identified and pre-approved by the IS&T senior management change board (SuperCAB) before the restricted period starts.

What happens for the rest of the year?

We still keep to a formal change authorisation process .but we look to keep the pace of changes up with the needs of the business. Changes done frequently and with little risk can be passed by an IS&T Service Manager. Anything unusual or more likely to have an impact on other services needs to go to a service change advisory board.  Requests assessed by those boards as needing more consideration will be taken to SuperCAB for discussion by representatives from different services.



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