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ITIL :: View topic - Change Category v's Change Priority
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Change Category v's Change Priority

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Joined: Feb 09, 2007
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:41 am    Post subject: Change Category v's Change Priority Reply with quote

Hi All,

I have been reading through the following thread regarding change categories:

It has popped a question into my head:

What is the difference between Change category and change priority. The only reason i am confused with this is because of the way my company has always worked:

Categories are used to pre-select approvers for changes. For example if the change is to a windows server, the category "Windows.Production" would be selected and the Server Team Leader would be added as an approver automatically.

Change Prioritys are determined on lead time...for example, if you have given less than 7 days notice your change is a Priority 1 (emergency)

Following reading through the above thread it is clear that we are doing things completely wrong and the "Emergency" tag should be added to a change via the Category, not the priority.

Which then brings me to the question...what do the different priorities mean to the change? What should the priority be based on?

If we have categorised a change as an emergency....would this automatically be assigned a priority of 1?
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Joined: Sep 28, 2007
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To sum things up, ITIL v2 has the following Prioirties:


As well, they define the following categories:


According to the books, the function of the priority is to a prioritization of which Change to consider first. "This priority rating is used to decide which Changes should be discussed and assessed first." For example, those changes marked Urgent will be considered and reviewed before the ones marked high. In other words, it is not directly related to lead time, or when the change needs to be implemented. It simply is a way of telling which Change should be considered first.

In terms of categories, this is more of a function of the level of potential risk. ITIL gives some guidance into what this means.

Minor - Few 'build' or 'runtime' resources required
Significant - Significant build or runtime resources required
Major - Very large amount of build or runtime resources required, or impact likely upon other parts of the organization.

Category is more of a function of the potential risk of implementing the change as well as the resources required to implement the change.

So, how does this relate to Emergency Changes? It really doesn't. (Or it shouldn't). Using the ITIL v2.4 model, Emergency Changes are more of a Change Model than a categorization or a priority. What does that mean? ITIL v2.4 basically defines 3 different Change Models:

Standard Change
Normal Changes
Emergency Changes

When a Change is submitted and Change Management properly filters the change, a decision will be made to determine which model the Change request will traverse. As you can imagine, standard changes often have little to no (pre-approved) approvals, while Emergency Changes may have E/CABs or Executive approvals.

Another thing to keep in mind, straight from ITIL, is that while the submitter may select a Priority/Category, the Change Manager is responsible for allocating (verifying) the initial priority. In addition, the Change Manager will also determine the Change Category of the change request as well.

At the end of the process, those change requests that make it to CAB or then confirmed on the agreement of prioirty and category. In other words, what the submitter initially entered as priority and category may change a number of times.
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Joined: Mar 21, 2006
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

benson112, you're not necessarily doing things "incorrectly", you've simply adapted itil to meet the requirements of your business.
As an example, my govt organisation uses the term "Category" to define a technology type, as it appears you do (my org calls it CTIs ie Category/Type/Item)

Our change PRIORITIES are

Our change IMPACTS are

*as you can see, the way we use the word "standard" is not strictly ITIL, but it works for us.

You just need to remember where your org differs its labelling of things when reading through material.
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Senior Itiler

Joined: Oct 07, 2007
Posts: 441
Location: Jakarta, INA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to contribute.
In my experience, I have come to a definition of change category as a map of impact and risk vs. cost, where the results usually divided into minor, significant, major (or other names respectively).
So category is defined as how the impact of the change is predicted to affect the delivered service, in terms of risk and cost

Priority, on the other hand, is calculated based on the business return the change could gain if implemented.

Normally, changes with least impacts have higher probability to get higher priority (which means to be implemented sooner).
But among several changes with the same category, you will have to determine which ones could benefit most int term of business.
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Joined: Feb 09, 2007
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your replies people they are most helpful.

Yet again i have been told to leave the categories as they are for now as the powers that be are alergic to change!! i will continue to fight my corner however i am merely the little ITIL man in the corner who knows nothing! Evil or Very Mad
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Senior Itiler

Joined: Sep 16, 2006
Posts: 3591
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My two pence worth

I use the term category loosely to mean classification and categorization of the change request

i mean that for a particular it infrastructure how to i want to differientiate between change requests

for example if the change system is for network chanegs only

i classsify and categorize the changes like

network h/w
network connectivity

then i come up with sub category / classification for each category/type

then I use priority classification/categorization like - Emergency/Immediate/Standard /Normal changes (ITIL terms or the Business/company equivilent

and for risk and impact - high, medium low etc

It all depends on how detailed you want your changes to be
John Hardesty
ITSM Manager's Certificate (Red Badge)

Change Management is POWER & CONTROL. /....evil laughter
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Senior Itiler

Joined: Mar 04, 2008
Posts: 1894
Location: Helensburgh

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an area of persistently confused terminology. Like several posters I would reserve "category" for something organizationally useful (it could even be linked to incident categories).

Priority is a value used to determine the allocation of resources when there is conflicting demand (e.g. two things "need" done at the same time by the same person).

In ITIL terms priority is derived from urgency and impact.

Simplistically, urgency is how soon the change is needed and impact is how much it is worth to the business to make the change.

In the real world this gets blurry and you have to make a judgement when you are confronted with high impact/low urgency against low impact/high urgency. The worth can be a cost or benefit or both.

You can grade urgency as finely as you like but there is little benefitt in having much more than high/medium/low for most situations.

Impact should be measured, as best you can, in money terms (both rate and sum total if necessary) even though some factors, like reputation and risk, can be difficult to do.
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