What IT can learn from the aviation industry

airplane-1157211-m As a kid I was already fond of airplanes, trains and cars. And a couple of years ago I was lucky to provide several training sessions for a big airline company.

And during the training we started a discussion about change management. As we all know, changes lead to alot of incidents and calls on a service desk. How do alot of companies deal with changes? Well, let’s see… We tend to ask system administrators to fill in a RFC-form.  Some system administrators make changes to the infrastructure without any documentation at all.

After the change is approved, we ask the system administrator, who filled in the form, to perform the change himself. Most of the times we ask him to do that in the weekend, or late at night. At that moment  most of us are not at our best/energetic moment of the day,

So why did I start about the relation with aviation? Replacing a part on an aircraft goes alot more thorough than  in IT. Of course you could say that if the aviation mechanic makes a mistake lives are at stake. In some industries the same thing is true for IT changes. For example for crucial IT-systems of police, fire department or telecom companies.

In aviation the work of a mechanic is always cross checked by a colleague. Why don’t we do the same in IT?

What I also like is the way is being dealt with the difference between a major or minor repair/change. The basic definition is:

Major repair means a repair:

(1) That, if improperly done, might appreciably affect weight, balance, structural strength, performance, powerplant operation, flight characteristics, or other qualities affecting airworthiness; or

(2) That is not done according to accepted practices or cannot be done by elementary operations.

Minor repair means a repair other than a major repair.

Especially the definition of the minor repair would fit in ITIL easily. But on a serious note, I think IT could benefit of a more rigid definition of change categories.