18 April 2024

Change advisory board process (Image by OCTOBITS)

The Change Advisory Board (CAB) emerges as an entity orchestrating organizational change management processes. 

As we know, in the fast-paced world of information technology and business, your company constantly updates technology, infrastructure, and processes to stay competitive.

These changes, while necessary, carry risks that can disrupt operations, compromise security, or negatively impact customer experience.

A CAB is a group of experts that meticulously reviews proposed changes. They aim to minimize unintended consequences and ensure changes align with business objectives.

This board meticulously assesses, plans, and coordinates IT changes, ensuring they align with business objectives while minimizing risks and operational disruptions.

This article delves into the CAB’s role, how it works, and why it’s crucial for your business.

What Is a Change Advisory Board (CAB)?

A CAB embodies a collective of individuals from diverse organizational facets, offering oversight and guidance throughout change management activities.

Think of them as the quality control team for IT changes. They bring IT experts, stakeholders from impacted departments, and potentially security or managed firewall specialists.

Their job is to carefully consider every proposed change, not just from a technical angle but in how it might affect the entire enterprise. They ask questions like:

  • Risk: Will user productivity be hampered? Could there be security breaches?
  • Impact: How will our customers and day-to-day work be affected?
  • Alignment: Does this change truly support our overall business goals?

The core responsibilities of a CAB include evaluating change proposals, assessing associated risks and benefits, guiding the change manager, maintaining change standards, communicating key decision making, and updates across the organization.

The CAB’s risk and impact analysis thoroughly considers the effects on IT services, business value, resource allocation, information security, and compliance​​.

Setting up a Change Advisory Board (CAB) involves several key steps. First, clearly define the CAB’s objectives, decision-making scope, and authority.

Next, the crucial stakeholders participating in the CAB must be identified and involved. 

Then, establish how often the CAB will meet and the structure of these meetings. Develop criteria to evaluate proposed changes and document the entire change management process. 

Lastly, effective communication channels should be set up, and the CAB’s processes should be regularly reviewed and enhanced based on feedback and results to maintain its effectiveness.

What Is a CAB Process?

The CAB process is a structured approach to change management, centralizing on evaluating, authorizing, and overseeing IT changes. 

Let’s say the process is more like a series of checkpoints designed to minimize surprises and maximize the success of any updates or overhauls.

The CAB process starts with initiating a change request and documenting the specifics of the proposed change, including its purpose, benefits, and potential risks.

This documentation is for transparency and serves as a formal record throughout the CAB process.

A pre-assessment and risk analysis follow, evaluating the change’s feasibility and potential impacts, laying the groundwork for informed decision-making during CAB meetings​​.

Then, we have CAB meetings that are central to this process. In the CAB meeting,  the diverse team members deliberate on the proposed change, assessing it from multiple perspectives to ensure a comprehensive evaluation. 

Post-meeting actions involve communicating decisions, planning the implementation of approved changes, and documenting the process for accountability and continuous improvement.

Finally, monitoring and post-implementation reviews assess the changes’ impact, ensuring they deliver the expected outcomes and align with the organization’s strategic goals​​.

Ultimately, these steps lead to informed decision-making that aligns with the company’s strategic and operational frameworks. It’s a methodical way to ensure IT changes drive positive outcomes, not headaches.

Role and Responsibilities of CAB

The CAB operates through a structured process that begins with submitting a change proposal and concludes with implementing and reviewing the approved changes.

The CAB’s responsibilities are multifaceted, encompassing the evaluation of change proposals, risk assessments, decision-making, prioritization of changes, and post-implementation reviews.

One of the CAB’s key responsibilities is change evaluation, where proposed changes are rigorously assessed for their impact, feasibility, and risks.

This evaluation ensures that only changes well-aligned with the organization’s strategic goals are approved.

The risk assessment is vital as it identifies and analyzes potential risks, aiming to manage and mitigate them proactively.

This allows the organization to make informed decisions about proceeding with changes​​.

Additionally, the CAB determines whether to approve, modify, or reject proposed changes based on comprehensive evaluations and risk assessments.

Effective communication is essential throughout this process, ensuring stakeholders are informed and involved, facilitating smooth transitions, and minimizing disruptions​​.

The CAB’s composition is key to its success, encompassing a diverse group of stakeholders, subject matter experts, change managers, and end-user representatives. 

This diversity ensures that changes are assessed from multiple perspectives, balancing technical and business considerations​​.

To set up a Change Advisory Board (CAB) effectively, organizations need to start by defining the CAB’s specific scope and objectives.

This involves identifying the key stakeholders who will participate in the CAB ensuring their roles and contributions are clear.

Additionally, it’s crucial to establish how often the CAB will meet and to develop detailed criteria for evaluating proposed changes.

Finally, documenting the entire change management process and committing to continuous improvement is essential to enhance the CAB’s effectiveness over time.

What is Change Advisory Board (Image by OCTOBITS)

Criteria for Change Evaluation

The CAB assesses changes based on several criteria, including the anticipated business impact, resource requirements, compliance considerations, and alignment with strategic goals.

This evaluation is a filter – only the changes that make sense regarding all these factors should move forward.

This helps the organization avoid costly missteps and focus on its objectives.

Here’s a deeper look at the types of questions the CAB tackles during their evaluation:

  • Impact on business operations: Will customers notice this change, or will it cause major disruptions? Will employees need to work overtime or be retrained? Or will the company get the benefits of managed firewall services?
  • Technical feasibility: Do we have the in-house knowledge to make this work?  Is the technology proven, or are we the guinea pigs?
  • Security implications: Does this change open us up to hackers? Will it conflict with industry regulations like HIPAA or finance’s PCI compliance)?
  • Cost-benefit analysis: Is the potential gain worth investing money and time?  What if things go wrong – are those costs accounted for too?
  • Urgency and priority: This might fix a problem, but is it more urgent than other changes? Or can it wait until it is less disruptive?
  • By carefully considering these factors, the CAB plays a crucial role in protecting the organization from ill-advised changes while encouraging those offering value.

CAB Meetings and Decision-Making

CAB meetings are basically get-togethers where folks decide on the IT changes a company might need. CAB meetings discuss tech updates and how those might affect everyone at work.

They plan these meetings regularly to stay ahead of the game, checking in on any tech tweaks they’ve agreed on previously and what they might need to consider next​​​​.

At these meetings, the board has a to-do list, ensuring they cover everything necessary, like what changes have been made since they last caught up and what’s on the agenda to tackle next.

It’s all about ensuring these tech changes are genuinely helpful and don’t mess up anyone’s day​​.

ITIL v4 also gives a thumbs up to these CAB meetings, emphasizing that they’re key to making changes smoothly and keeping everyone in the loop​​.

The key to successful CAB meetings? Making sure everyone is on the same wavelength.

Misunderstandings or lack of clarity on why changes are being made can lead to resistance or confusion.

The team can avoid potential pitfalls by talking things through, ensuring that each tech update enhances rather than complicates their workflow.


We know that change is a constant. But change doesn’t have to mean chaos. 

A Change Advisory Board (CAB) brings structure, insight, and a focus on long-term goals to the process.

It’s like having a team of advisors dedicated to ensuring any technology updates truly benefit your organization.

The CAB works tirelessly behind the scenes. They help prevent costly surprises, protect you from security risks, and ensure resources are spent wisely.

Most importantly, they ensure that those changes you’re making to stay competitive move the needle in the right direction.

If your organization is serious about responsibly harnessing the power of change, a CAB should be a serious consideration. 

So yes, the change advisory board is an investment in a smoother-running, more adaptable, and ultimately more successful company.