The Change Initiation Review takes on a very different character depending on the context within which it is conducted, as well as the size and complexity of the change and IT environment. The differences can be stark, especially between emerging IT-for example, application service provider (ASP) and business-to-business (B2B)-and traditional corporate IT environments. This is due to the differences in business contexts, which are summarized in the following table.

Table: Differences in Business Context

Business context Emerging IT Traditional IT

Change location




End customer

Internal customer




Market type

Outsourced, market, alternatives

Insourced, monopoly, tied

Relative IT content of products



Relative business dependence on IT



Changes in emerging IT environments are usually of services provided to end customers of the business, whereas changes in traditional IT environments are usually of services provided to customers within the business. As such, the nature of changes and their Change Initiation Reviews can differ.

Within each environment, the scope of the review can vary widely since each environment may deploy a varying mix of large and small changes. In emerging environments, changes can range from entirely new applications and services to incremental upgrades in features and functionality. In traditional environments, changes can range from enterprise solutions like a desktop operating system upgrade or enterprise resource planning (ERP) change to the implementation of localized line-of-business (LOB) applications. The Change Initiation Review and the associated authorization process scale with the change under review, its category, and its priority. For more information on determining a change category and priority, see the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) Change Management Service Management Function guide, available at the Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF).

There is usually more risk to the business with changes in emerging IT environments. These changes involve commitments to end customers; the changes are rarely flexible and have direct negative financial consequences if not met. These customers tend to have little patience with service problems, since they have many choices in the marketplace. Change Initiation Reviews are important since they define early in the process the cost/benefit of the change in these environments and ensure that communication, buy-in, and budget approval is gained from the appropriate stakeholders for the change.

Large changes in traditional environments can be extremely complex, especially in cases where customers and users are distributed among different business units throughout the world. Logistic, cultural, and political issues often create additional challenges. Change Initiation Reviews in these cases are often more difficult to manage and have deeper organizational repercussions. They often bring together a diverse group of people and are excellent opportunities to bridge gaps and fortify relationships.

User communications are a critical part of change initiation. They set customers' expectations, influence their perceptions about the service they receive, and initiate their input to the change process. Because communications are made directly to end customers in emerging IT environments, they need to be carried out within an overall relationship-management strategy and plan. In traditional environments, they need to be carefully crafted to get the proper amount of attention.