Change Management Template for SQL Server DBAs and Developers

"Yeah, so... the SQL Server keeps crashing..."

“Yeah, so… the SQL Server keeps crashing…”

I learned to do Change Management from some really smart people. When I first became a DBA, I worked at a small software company where changes were released with increasing frequency over the years. Our team was really great at planning and deploying changes, because we constantly worked at improving.

Good Change Management makes your team smarter. When you change things a lot, things are going to break sometimes. If you’ve done a good change request, you’ll know exactly what to do when something breaks: either you’ll roll the change back, or have a Plan B to execute on. Good change requests also mean that business owners understand the risks of the changes and have approved them, and that teammates have reviewed them: good changes aren’t done in isolation.

Change Management isn’t just for IT. If you’re a developer who deploys changes to production, you need this as well.

Here’s a sample basic change request template. If you don’t have Change Management yet, start here.


Change Request Template for SQL Servers

Change Description

  1. What is the change?
  2. What’s the benefit of the change?

Change Planning: Who and When?

  1. Change Planned Date and Time:
  2. Who will roll out the change:
  3. Is this a recurring change, or a one time change?

Change Risk Assessment

  1. What SQL Servers and databases are impacted?
  2. Which applications use these databases?
  3. Describe estimated downtime required by the change and applications impacted:
  4. What is the worst thing that could happen if the change fails midway, or doesn’t have the intended result?

Change Execution and Rollback

  1. Steps to do the change:
  2. Change verification:
  3. Steps to roll back the change if needed:

Change PreRequisites – Submit the change only if the following are complete (or note why they can’t be done)

  • Change deployment tested in pre-production with stated steps
  • Change rollback tested in pre-production with stated steps

Change Reviewer Signoff

  • Reviewed by:
  • Review date:

Change Approver Signoff

  • Approved by:
  • Approval date:

 Change Request Q&A

Doesn’t filling out that information take a long time? Only when it’s worth it. Outlining a complex change takes time, but you need to do that for a complex change — don’t wing it in production. If assessing the risk of a change is time consuming, that means you have a huge problem and need to document dependencies in your environment.

Why do I need a change reviewer AND a change approver? The change reviewer is typically a peer. They are looking at your plan and trying to help you think if you’ve missed anything technically, or perhaps they know of an easier way to do it. The change approver should be a management or stakeholder in the business who is primarily assessing the risk of the change and the impact of any downtime.

What if I’m the only SQL Server DBA or Developer? Who reviews my change then? The same person who would have to take care of the SQL Server if you had an emergency or won the lottery. If there is no such person, you need to identify one, for the sake of your employer.

What if we wouldn’t roll the change back? In that case, explain why you wouldn’t roll back, and what your Plan B is if something goes wrong. If there is no Plan B, change approvers need to be aware of that.

What if I’m the only person who wants to do Change Management? Just start doing it for your changes. Nobody ever got fired for asking for change approval. Usually they get rewarded if they do change management consistently — others will see the value.

 

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9 Comments. Leave new

One of the things we’ve struggled with is people not giving a rollback plan because they would troubleshoot instead of rolling back. Our question at that point is always, “What if troubleshooting doesn’t work and we get to the point of just needing to get the server back online?” Sometimes there really isn’t a backout plan but if there is one we want documented what it is even if it’s not the first think they’ll do.

Reply

    Agreed. In those cases, the “Worst case” is super important.

    If the data is wrong or missing and it takes 5 hours to troubleshoot successfully, what is the impact and is that an acceptable risk to the change approver?

    Sometimes people say, “oh it wouldn’t take 5 hours to troubleshoot.” Then you go through it a few times and it becomes obvious that 5 hours is generous and it often takes much longer to get it fixed, of course 🙂

    Reply

[…] Kendra Little walks through a fairly simple but very useful change management template: […]

Reply
Marcelo Kamimura
April 18, 2016 5:43 am

Hi Kendra… This is a very useful change management template but I missed one thing… What is going to be changed? Just a few words explaining what is going to be changed…. What do you think?
Nice work!! 🙂

Reply

    LOL! Yes, what the change is and why to do it is something most change reviewers want to know. Thank you! I added a section called “Change Description” to the top that asks those two things.

    Reply

[…] Don’t rush in to randomly changing settings. Document everything first, and then use a good change control process. If you don’t have change control in place, start with my free Change Control Template. […]

Reply

Hi Kendra,

First of all, you are my Hero, I’ve been searching hours for a decent template, you have just saved me with this,

I just felt the need to personally thank you since frustration was staring to get the better of me.

Thanks!

Reply

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