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How to Tackle Any Challenging Change Risks with Change Impact Analysis

Developing an opportunity to determine and mitigate challenging change risks is a priority for every change leader.

Roger Watson

July 23, 2021

What is a Change Impact Analysis or Assessment?

A change impact assessment is basically comparing two states (the current state and the future state) of a change to identify what is changing, who is impacted by that change, and what do the impacted users need to know (Note: this last part folds into stakeholder analysis, communication analysis and strategies.)

It is the process to analyze how stakeholders will be impacted by the change and the change's specific impact on people, processes, tools, organizational structure, roles, and technology.

The process involves identifying and categorizing who and what will be affected, assessing the degree of change occurring within these areas, and describing the change.

This process determines the size, scope, timing, and complexity of the change effort. It is used to inform and guide the formation of the change strategy and identify activities required to manage risk and resistance that may be associated with the change.

A change impact assessment (CIA) helps you identify who and what will be impacted by a change. It also allows you to answer key questions including: What is changing? How many people, groups, or regions will be impacted? When will they be impacted? Why? Severity of impacts? And many more.

The information and answers from your organizational change impact assessments will drive your change management planning for supporting the change.

A change impact assessment is the set of tasks that you perform to analyze the impacts of a change on those within an organization or region. When an organization transforms its processes, culture, systems, skill set, values, policies, or technology, or when it expands to new locations, produces new products, or changes its operations, there are individuals and groups that are impacted by this change.

Knowing who is going to be impacted, how they’re going to be impacted, and the severity of that impact is critical if you want to implement your organizational change project successfully.

Conducting Various Types of CIA

• Conducting a business change impact analysis allows you to identify the groups, departments, functions, teams, and job roles that will be impacted by the change.

• Conducting a “system impact assessment” or “software change impact analysis” allows you to identify the specific business processes and legacy technology tools that will be impacted (or replaced) by a technology level change.

• Conducting an organizational culture, mindset, or operational change impact analysis enables you to identify the groups and individuals that will be impacted and who need to be enabled and supported through the change.

Why is a Change Impact Analysis Important?

The findings from your change impact assessment are extremely important as they will drive the development of your change management and project management strategies.

For example, your project, change enablement, and program plans for communicating, engaging with stakeholders and firm leadership, training impacted end-users, coaching, and supporting impacted stakeholders and employees will be based on the severity and scale of the impacts.

A higher level of change impacts to a specific group (for example, the Sales group) will mean a more comprehensive level of communication and engagement with Sales staff to increase their buy-in and acceptance of the change. It will also mean more training relative to less impacted groups.

How Does an Impact Assessment Impact Other Change Processes?

It is used in the development of the Change Management to prepare stakeholder engagement, communication, and learning development plans.

Change Impact Analysis, together with Stakeholder Analysis (see Stakeholder Analysis blog article) guides the Change Management Strategy that then determines the budget and resource requirements- the Change Management Plan)- for a successful change.

• Tells you the level of training needed for users/groups

• Tells you the type of communications needed for users/groups

• Tells you where you need change agents to help with change support

• Identifies where you’re likely to get the most resistance to the change

• Tells you what types of job role guides and documentation you’ll need

• Identifies which specific processes/procedures/software/systems are changing due to the project

How to Conduct a Change Impact Analysis?

Step 1: Identify the Resources that are tasked with documenting the business and technical process flows.

Business Analysts are often the Resources tasked with conducting process flow mappings. A process mapping involves documenting the end-to-end flow of the current state for a particular system, culture, process, organizational operations, or any kind of “current way of doing things”. It also involves mapping out the future state processes as part of the future state design initiative.

However, your firm might be using the services of a consulting firm or resources within the business units to map out the respective business process flows, or this task might have been assigned to the project management team, design team, architect team, or some other group within the organization.

Regardless, the first step for you to complete will be to identify the Resources that are responsible for documenting and mapping out the process flows.

Step 2: Conduct the business impact analysis

It is generally the role of the change management practitioner to perform the impact analysis. However, if you can get the Business Analysts performing the process flow documentation to also do the impacts assessments, that will free up your bandwidth to focus on other vital change management tasks.

Two ways for conducting your impact assessments

1. Ask the Business Analysts / Other Resources to conduct the assessment

2. Complete the assessment yourself

The two sections below describe how the two methods listed above can be completed.

(2.1) Ask the Business Analysts / Process Mapping Resource(s) to conduct the assessment

You will want to start out by meeting with the Business Analysts or other identified resources and explain the importance of conducting a change impact analysis.

If they are new to the process, then you will also want to explain what an impact analysis is, including providing them with a preview of the impact assessment framework discussed above.

Provide the resources with a copy of our Change Impact Assessment Template – Excel or online version, for capturing the impacts information, and walk them through how to do complete the impact assessment matrix.

Emphasize the need to populate the impacts template with succinct but meaningful As-Is vs To-Be information and use our business impact analysis samples for illustration of what needs to be completed.

(2.2) Conducting the change impact assessment yourself

If the above option of getting other Resources to do the change impact assessment is not viable, then the second option will be for you (if you are the Change Management Resource) to complete the end-to-end impact review and documentation by yourself.

So how do you perform the most efficient, simplified, and yet impactful change impact analysis? See below for a list of the action steps you should take to help you identify the effects and impacts of a business change:

• Gather As-Is and To-Be business process flows, technical flows, and other current and future state documentation from the project team, program sponsors, architects, designers, and other groups.

• If your change evaluation is focused on culture or behavior, then make sure you gather the relevant current state information as well as information on where the organization is moving to.

• Review the gathered documentation and populate the various sections of AGS’ Change Impact Assessment Template yourself. Leverage the end-to-end sample data that is included in the AGS tool to increase your success.

• Conduct interviews with the project team, Work Stream Leads, architects, designers, stakeholders, and SMEs to get alignment and to ensure that you are capturing the right data.

In addition, you should review one or more of the below documentation types to glean additional information that should be entered into your change impact assessment matrix template:

Project Charter and Scope Document

• Design Planning Workshops

• Map Day Workshops

• Functional Decomposition & Architecture Diagrams

• Business Process Flows

• System User Lists

Gather information through methods including interviews with subject matter experts.

1. Agree on the Change Impact Analysis approach, by answering the following questions.

o What information needs to be collected?

o Why does the information need to be collected?

o How will the information be used?

o How will Change Impacts be scored for risk?

o Who will the information be shared with in your organization?

o How and how often will the information be collected?

o How the will the information be formatted and reported?

2. Identify the Change Impacts.

3. Complete Change Impact data collection.

4. Complete Change Impact risk assessment and mitigation plan

5. Maintain and update Change Impact Analysis.

PRACTICE NOTES

Avoid collecting large lists of Change Impacts. Instead, focus on scoring Change Impact risks and work with leadership to develop mitigation strategies to lower them.

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