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Managing

Byron Hurlock manages change control for Quest Diagnostics

Hurlock's group supports some 140 applications in Quest Diagnostics data centers across the country. "I'm like a traffic cop," he says

 

Byron Hurlock, change control manager.

Byron Hurlock, change control manager.

Byron Hurlock is a change control manager for Quest Diagnostics Inc (Lyndhurst, NJ). He's responsible for managing the change control process for upgrades to software application programs, data networking and hardware at the company's various data centers.

Quest Diagnostics provides testing, information and services for healthcare professionals. The company performs some 140 million diagnostic tests a year for physicians, hospitals, health insurers, labs, corporations and government agencies.

Quest has more than 1,900 patient service centers, thirty primary labs and 140 rapid-response labs throughout the U.S., Mexico and the UK. It's an IT-intensive environment, running multiple platforms and several different databases on a nationwide network.

Introducing change control
It was Hurlock himself who introduced the IT change control process to Quest Diagnostics. He's the author of all company documents pertaining to change control policies and procedures.

At first he did his change control work largely by hand, but after a few years he brought in automated electronic tools from Peregrine Systems. His change management methods are now in force throughout the company, with frequent training sessions to help ensure compliance.

An open forum
Hurlock's people have to make sure that all the groups that will be affected by a specific change, which could add up to more than a dozen functional support groups and business units, are aware of the change.

"Part of good change management methodology is that you have an open forum for anybody to come and express themselves about any change," he explains.

"They have to approve it, and then we track it with our Peregrine online tool."

Meet the cop
"I'm like a traffic cop," says Hurlock with a smile. Part of his approach is developing a "green zone" time during which changes can be made to the system or a part of it. "I can't allow changes to be happening just any time of the day," he notes.

Hurlock's group supports about 140 different applications across the country. "The majority of our customers are users Monday through Friday between 9 am and 5 pm, but we have centers in the Jewish community that work Saturdays instead of Fridays, and in the Chinese community where they work on the weekend," he says.

Like a traffic cop, Hurlock will give out a ticket if a group or individual bypasses his established processes. "I give them a process violation and I record it on the online tool," he says. He'll even slap a ticket on an approved change if it's made outside the green zone.

At work at fifteen
Hurlock grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He dropped out of high school to go to work at fifteen, then joined the Army.

His interest in technology began with his experience as a sergeant during the Vietnam era, working as an avionics technician and helicopter mechanic. "In the Army I went back to school and received my high school diploma from Frankfurt/American High School in Hanau, Germany," he says. After his discharge he earned a BS in MIS at the State University of New York-Old Westbury, finishing in 1983.

He found a job at Chemical Bank, first as a technical specialist and then as a manager of the New York metro area data center.

He also went to grad school courtesy of Chemical's tuition reimbursement program. He earned a 1991 MS in HR management from the New School (New York, NY). "My intention was to go into IS for HR, but I never really left the IT support area," he says.

Branching out
After several years of working in IT support, Hurlock launched a film and video production company. "It had been my hobby for years," he explains. "I had experience and I had education, and now I wanted to see if I could make a go of it before I got too old." Hurlock and his wife agreed to give it two years.

"My first project was a public-service commercial on AIDS and HIV," he notes. The project took six months, and while he was working on it he pitched other ideas and applied for grants.

He also did some acting, and was often used as an extra on soap operas. "I was in films, too," he says. In Car-lito's Way with Al Pacino and Sean Penn, Hurlock is in the opening scene. "It's in the courtroom with the lawyer and I'm sitting right behind him with a tan suit on," says Hurlock.

Back to IT
In 1995 Hurlock went back to the real world. "I knew that if I stayed out of IT too long it would be much harder to get back in," he says.

He quickly found a consulting job at Chase Manhattan Bank, which had merged with Chemical Bank. He moved to Quest in 2000.

Hurlock works hard to balance his demanding job and his family commitments with his wife and two young daughters. He also finds time to be VP of the Xi Lambda Lambda chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

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