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People are confused between a normal and a standard change. What is another name for it

By ITIL® from Experience©

It is relatively common for people to be confused between a Standard Change and a Normal Change. It is understandable as there is not much difference between these two words. Even their dictionary definitions convey similar meanings:

  • Standard (adjective): usual rather than special, especially when thought of as being correct or acceptable 1
  • Normal (adjective): usual, and what you would expect2

In addition, establishing a statistical norm can be used to control a standardized process! But let’s get back to ITIL®. A closer look at the ITIL® definition of a Standard and a Normal change reveals two key distinctions. Here are the ITIL® v3 definitions3 with these distinctions underlined.

  • Standard Change (ITIL® Service Transition): "A pre-authorized change that is low risk, relatively common and follows a procedure or work instruction – for example, a password reset or provision of standard equipment to a new employee. Requests for change are not required to implement a standard change, and they are logged and tracked using a different mechanism, such as a service request."
  • Normal Change (ITIL® Service Transition): "A change that is not an emergency change or a standard change. Normal changes follow the defined steps of the change management process."

Simply put, a standard change can be called a “pre-authorized change”. The normal change is actually defined by what it is not. Since it is not a standard or its an emergency change, it is simply every other change and must be authorized. Thus, an organization may decide to use the terms: “pre-authorized” or “requires authorization” to avoid confusion.

Our experience has shown that using these terms, "pre-authorized" and "a change" simplify the concept to the point of being easily understood by novice and ITIL® Experts. Moreover, they clearly communicates expectations and behavior people need to follow: every change must be authorized before being implemented.


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