Cover by Gary A. Donahue

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Why Change Control Is Your Friend

If you’ve been working in a small company that’s grown into a larger company or if you’ve moved from a smaller to a larger company, you’ve probably run into change control. Change control is the means whereby a company limits the changes that are made to the network (or anything, for that matter) until they are understood and scheduled. If you want to upgrade a router with change control active, you need to submit a request. The request then needs to be approved, at which point the change might be scheduled. In some companies, a single person approves or denies change requests. In other companies, committees review every request. I’ve seen companies where the change-control committee meets only on, say, Tuesdays. If your change is denied, you have to wait until the next Tuesday for an alternative change to be considered.

Scheduling changes is one of those things that seems to make engineers a bit nutty. Why should you have to wait for a team of people who don’t understand what you’re doing to tell you it’s OK to do it? Why waste time if you know you can fix a problem with a single command that won’t hurt anything? To engineers, change control can seem like a waste of time and energy that does nothing but interfere with their ability to get work done.

Over the years, I’ve held many positions, ranging from junior engineer to director of a large consulting company to head of my own business. During those years, I’ve learned a few things about how businesses ...

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