Who Needs SQL Server Change Management?

Document and Communicate

It is very important to let people know what you have done or you are planning on doing. Verbal communication is great, but having things written down is even better. Generally, when you tell someone something, they usually hear what they want to hear, and not the whole story. Giving them documentation allows them to later review what you have given them. I know documentation is probably not your favorite thing, and it takes way too much time. It’s true, documentation does take time, but this is not because it is hard to do, it’s because most people put it off until the very end. At that point instead of just having to fine tune your documentation you have this mammoth task in front of you. Start small and document through the entire process instead of waiting until the very end. Also, make sure the documentation is meaningful to others. Have someone else take a look and provide feedback. Let them know the documentation is more for their benefit then yours, since you’re the one that implemented the change.

Define Roles and Guidelines

In order for a change to be affective, people need to know the rules. You can’t just assume that since you think it is a great idea, or that the process should work this way, others are going to feel the same way. Have you ever been involved in a company reorg? If so, I bet the one thing that you wanted to know was how it was going to affect you. Well this is kind of the same thing, just on a smaller scale. Define who can do what, your documentation needs, testing, signoffs, handoffs, etc. The better the roles are established, the easier it will be to determine who is responsible and who needs to fix the problem if something goes wrong.

Always Have a Back Out Plan

Whenever you move objects and configurations into production always make sure you have a way to back out your changes, even if it is something as small as adding or changing one stored procedure. Your back out plan can be as simple as restoring a backup, to having complex back out scripts, and a coordinated effort with other key groups (i.e. Applications, NT Engineering, Networking). The back out plan is just as important as your roll out plan. You may never have to use it for an implementation, but the one time you do you’ll be glad you took the time to put it together.

Create a Repeatable Process

Create a process that you can use over and over again for either the same application upgrade or for future projects. Take a look at all of the documents, processes, emails, etc., that you have used in the past and create a set of reusable documents that can be used for future projects. If you can recycle and reuse what you have already put together, it will simplify and streamline your procedures.

You Start and Then Involve Others

If you really want to have more control over changes to your database, you need to first look at what you can do to get this done. You can’t keep blaming developers or users if you haven’t set the guidelines. After you have done your homework, then you can start to involve others. Take a look at the things that you have control over or the things you can bring to the surface that someone has to be aware of and manage. Face it, if you don’t do it, who will?

Convince Others

As a DBA this probably sounds good to you, but how do you convince others that will have to change the way they do things? Good question!

Past mistakes – Take a look at past mistakes and how a process like this will eliminate the issues from happening again.


Management – Find someone above you that will champion the cause and take it to the next level.


Find others that want a change – Find other people that see there has to be a better way and get them to join you in your effort.


Collaborate – Talk to other people in an informal manner. Get feedback from them, so you can address their concerns early in the process. This is a sure way to get them to feel like part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Summary

It may seem like a daunting task to put a change management process in place for your environment, but it’s not impossible. Many companies are already doing it through years of trial and error. The only way to get a better process in place is to start making changes to your existing process. You might need to just formalize what you already have or you may need a complete overhaul. Whatever it may be, start small and think big.

References

Change Management for SQL Server Presentation by Greg Robidoux

Greg Robidoux Overview

Greg Robidoux is the founder of Edgewood Solutions a database solutions company in the United Statesand is currently the Vice Chair of the PASS DBA Special Interest Group. He has 14 years of IT experience and has been working with databases for the last 10 years with the past four years of that with SQL Server. Greg’s primary areas of focus are setting standards, disaster recovery, security and change management controls. In addition to these areas he has experience with replication, storage areas networks and SQL Server upgrades. Greg can be reached at gregr@edgewoodsolutions.com.

Edgewood Solutions Overview

Edgewood Solutions is focused on supporting the Microsoft SQL Server platform and delivering database solutions to further enhance the investments companies have already made based on this product platform. We recommend and implement processes that are often overlooked, but should be part of every database installation. In addition, we have partnered with the following companies that we feel enhance the SQL Server platform: Lumigent, DBAssociates and Precise Software Solutions.

Our employees have taken an active role in the SQL Server community. We are members of PASS and one of our employees is the Vice Chair of the PASS DBA Special Interest Group. We also had the distinct opportunity to provide two presentations at the recent PASS Summitin Seattle, ‘Change Management for SQL Server’ and ‘Successful Project Management for Database Administrators’.

Edgewood Solutions SQL Server services include:

Change Management
Security
Disaster Recovery
Performance Analysis and Tuning
Project Management
Database Maintenance
Database Upgrades
For additional information about Edgewood Solutions visit www.edgewoodsolutions.com.

Published with the express written permission of the author. Copyright 2003 by the author.

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