How to increase attendance to the CAB meetings

By ITIL® from Experience©

It is common to see a decrease in attendance to the Change Advisory Board (CAB) meetings over time. People are too busy or lose interest as they see the value of taking care of other business higher than attending the CAB.

When people are not attending CAB meetings Requests For Change (RFC) cannot be properly reviewed. Questions are left unanswered, implications and impacts remain unknown or poorly understood which hinders sound decisions, increases risks and reduces the Change Management process’ effectiveness.

The following can be taken to increase attendance to the Change Advisory Board (CAB) meetings.

  1. Prepare a Terms Of Reference1 to clarify roles, responsibilities, quorum2 , rules and procedures of the board (e.g. bylaws). Some of the suggestions below can be included in the CAB Terms Of Reference (TOR). (See this template as an example).

  2. Secure an executive sponsor or champion to help promote the value of the CAB and to act as an escalation point if board members do not fulfill their role and responsibilities (see Do we need CIO support to succeed).

  3. Review the CAB membership. Determine which role and expertise is required. First, look at what the process needs before considering who can fulfill the roles (do not start by asking who should be on the board!)

  4. Confirm with each member and/or their manager that they are still the right individual to attend. (If a re-org happened recently, new areas may need to be represented on the Board, or people may have changed roles causing their lack of attendance).

  5. Ensure that each CAB member identify a deputy or alternate to attend on their behalf. Ensure that deputies have been briefed on their roles, responsibilities and that they are aware of the CAB Terms Of Reference.

  6. Implement a process policy that the initiator or their deputy must be present for their RFC to be reviewed and receive a decision, otherwise the RFC will be differed to the next CAB meeting. Note that until attendance is intrinsic to the culture, this policy may result in more emergency RFCs as people may raise those when they don’t attend the CAB meeting (see How to reduce the number of emergency changes).

  7. As recommended by ITIL® publish the CAB agenda well in advance of the meeting3 . Include a list of the individuals invited to advertise who is expected to be present (don't forget to send it to the deputies and the Sponsor/Champion as well).

  8. Publish minutes of the CAB meeting containing the record of decisions and the list of attendees present and absent (this attendance data can be used when an escalation is required). Also include deputies and the Sponsor/Champion as recipients.

  9. In the CAB meeting minutes, report the frequency of attendance like it is done in Annual Reports of some publicly traded companies. For example: John Doe attended 4 of 6 meetings (67%).

  10. Report the success of the CAB as a section of the CAB minutes or as a separate report (people like to be associated with success). Focus on incidents and availability issues the CAB help avoid and the reduced impact to the business.

  11. Review tools used by CAB members to see if they can be improved to make their jobs easier like:
    1. Give them a checklist to evaluate RFCs
    2. Leverage the ITSM Tool to enable CAB members to review RFCs, record their authorization or vote and comments prior to the meeting. In most cases, when all members authorize the RFC, the Change Manager could approve the RFC without the need to be discussed at a CAB meeting. (see Are changes approved or authorized).

  12. Ask CAB members what can be done to improve attendance. For example:
    1. How to increase "What's In It For You" from these CAB meetings? (i.e. value of attending)
    2. Given that many find it difficult to attend, is there a better day of the week or time for these meetings? (The Chair or Sponsor/Champion may need to intervene to make them available if members have another conflicting meeting).

  13. Have the executive Sponsor/Champion:
    1. Attend CAB meetings for a month (see What does it mean to have CIO and management support)
    2. Engage their peers to secure their acceptance of the CAB Terms Of Reference and to commit that their people will attend CAB meetings as well as to ensure that their commitment is communicated throughout their management team and organization.

  14. As a last resort, escalate the issue to the executive Sponsor/Champion with a report of attendance and examples of incidents and additional work that could have been avoided if CAB members would have been present. When one CAB member’s attendance is particularly problematic, suggest that the issue be raised with that individual’s executive.

    Lastly a word of caution: all of these suggestions will be ineffective if the root cause of the problem is not well understood. It is important to know if the lack of attendance is the result of a technology, process or people problem (e.g. discipline). Therefore:

  15. Ensure that people solutions are used to address people issues to avoid implementing convoluted technology or procedures simply to address a few people’s resistance to good practice.

Last updated on: 2015-12-02

Showing up is half the battle. – Warren Buffet

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