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Or “Where there’s a will, there’s a way…”

TIL: That "Change Moratorium"'s (aka no changes allowed over a period) only seem to make people more creative in working around an organisations Change Management process. In fact the bigger the Organisation, the more likely the system has been hacked and hence the more likely a breaking change will get through…

Also known as “Change Freezes”, moratoriums are often used to protect the core business from breaking changes during low staff resourcing times (public holidays etc), major data migrations, facilities upgrades/maintenance and other disruptive situations (like office relocations, external infrastructure changes etc). These are all Good Things™ in the Change Management (CM) world…

For a lot of my clients over the last few years CM is [“the law” to quote Stallone’s Judge Dredd]( "Stallone's Judge Dredd \"I am the law\""),1 and there are no exceptions. Which is I guess the mindset I picked up from those clients. Anyway, enough background let us return to the story.

Being the Christmas Party season it's been a crowded two weeks on the "Business" social calendar… I actually enjoy these sorts of events as you get to catch up with clients and associates in a more relaxed environment where everyone is looking forward to their end of year holidays. Inevitably, of course, talk swings around to the typical last minute rushes this time of year brings.

This year I was struck by the fact the over the last half dozen of these Christmas gatherings I've been regaled with people “shipping to Prod” , “releasing to the AppStore” or similar live deployments during their supposed Christmas "Moratorium" periods.

When digging deeper my first question was alway’s:

”What‽ How?”2

The “how” invariably came down to a manipulation of either classing the release to production as a “Standard Change” or in a couple of cases they had to resort to a “Critical Change” request. As you’re probably aware moratorium’s usually have “owners” or gate-keepers that are a lot further up the food chain than the rest of us. So a “Critical” status means you present, in person, to people who control your career, about the code or operational change you want to deploy. Usually you have to explain in excoriating detail about the change and why this fixes the critical issue. This inevitably leads to having to explain how this issue got through to production at which point you have to throw someone under the bus (yourself, the Product Owner, the process, the person who’s asking you the questions… it’s never fun).

The next question was invariably a variation on:

“Why?? For ****’s sake…”

They all came down, in every instance Management (or some other controlling entity) pushing to get a product shipped in unreasonably short deadlines. These rushes to get products out before a Change Moratorium kicks are unfortunately common and it my small anecdotal sample set all of them inevitably lead to changes being deployed in the moratorium period and stress for all involved.

Worst of all, in every case the “features” that were rushed to production before the moratorium started, then ended up being removed in the subsequent deployment during the moratorium. Annoyingly in one case the gate-keeper approved the Critical Change saying “Just take it out, it’s not that important a feature…”

The rush to beat a moratorium by Product Owners, etc, are bad, they resulted in effectively introducing a broken production state under pressure only to role it back during the moratorium. The net result was effectively a negative impact on the business across all cases, some directly affected customers other interrupted the daily business processes.

The thing is people minimise the impact these “rushes” have — sure it’s good you minimised the impact on customers or business operations through the rollback or patch or whatever, but that rush and subsequent stressful period where everyone is dealing with the broken deployment doesn’t get considered. Half the time it doesn’t even come across the Product Owners or relevant Executives desk until they have to deal with the Critical Change request.

So, here’s hoping you didn’t have to go through that this year… and if you did I hope it wasn’t too stressful.

Have a great holiday and lets hope 2019 is even better!

Photo by from Pexels

  1. Happy Christmas 🎄 to all my friends working in AusGov 👋🏻 

  2. For the first few imagine a shocked tone being used, that wore off though… 

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