Change Impact Analyse

Change Impact Analysis

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A method for analyzing the effects of a change in a product or process

Change impact analysis is rooted in software engineering, where it is used to predict the impact of changes in parts of the software system. The objective is that a change request can be assessed and thus rejected or implemented.

However, it is now also used in other areas of product development and is an excellent tool for analyzing the impact of changes to a product or application. The method can be used in many different areas, including corporate strategy, project management, product development, policy making, and others.

Change impact analysis was first mentioned in 1996 by Robert Arnold and Shawn Bohner in the book of the same name Software Change Impact Analysisin which they describe change impact analysis as a method for identifying potential consequences on the software system and estimating what needs to be changed for a change to be successful – so it’s about the concrete impact on the one hand and the effort involved on the other. According to Arnold and Bohner, there are three types of change impact analysis:

  • Traceability impact analysis captures links between requirement and, for example, design elements to determine the extent of impact.
  • Dependency impact analysis is used to work out what the scope of the impact is.
  • And experiential impact analysis is used to examine what happened in the past with similar changes and whether that could happen again with the upcoming change.

Advantages of Change Impact Analysis

Change Impact Analysis can be used in many different work situations. Here are some examples described.

  • Informed decision making: By anticipating potential impacts, an organization can make better-informed decisions. It helps identify potential barriers and develop plans to address them.
  • Risk management: Impact analysis is an effective tool for risk management. It can help identify and prevent potential risks that could affect the achievement of an organization’s objectives.
  • Increasing efficiency: a well-conducted impact analysis can help to use resources in the project more efficiently, as it helps to prioritize and focus on the aspects that have the greatest impact.
  • Stakeholder engagement: The method enables the interests of various stakeholders to be taken into account and to understand how they might be affected by certain decisions. This can lead to stronger engagement and acceptance. It has a similar effect here as the point of view – stakeholder analysis and the stakeholder matrix.
  • Timely corrective action: Impact analyses can identify problems before they become too large to manage effectively. This gives decision makers the opportunity to take corrective action in a timely manner.
  • Better communication: The method can help improve communication within the organization and with external stakeholders by providing clear information about the likely impact of specific decisions.
  • Sustainability: impact analysis can help improve the long-term sustainability of an organization by helping to make decisions that take into account both current and future needs. It is therefore also a relevant tool in the development of sustainable innovations.

Use in digital transformation projects

Change impact analysis is therefore right at the heart of the IT environment, so it’s no surprise that it can also be used in the course of digital transformation: How often have you been sitting in front of your PC, annoyed, because it has performed a software update and closed all your open files and shut itself down, although you really wanted to finish something urgently? The idea of investigating the effects of such changes on the user of the software and how to accompany the user during the change so that he is not impaired in his everyday business probably arose from a similar situation. “What measures need to be derived so that people experience and accept the transformation in a positive way?” the change manager asks when conducting the change impact analysis and then implements those measures.

Challenges in the application

Change impact analysis is a powerful method that, of course, has limitations. Examples of situations where the application becomes challenging:

  • Uncertainty: Predicting the impact of a particular decision or change often involves a degree of uncertainty. Often, the actual impact differs from the original predictions due to unforeseen factors or changes in circumstances. One should always include this uncertainty in the analysis and not assume that the expected impact will take place 100% of the time. I wrote more about this in the article The Danger of Assumptions and Assumptions
  • High time and complexity: Performing a comprehensive change impact analysis can be very time consuming, especially if the change is complex. This is especially true when it involves a large number of stakeholders, factors, and potential impacts.
  • Lack of objectivity: Although the impact analysis should be conducted as objectively as possible, subjective assessments cannot be avoided. This may be particularly the case when it comes to assessing potential impacts and determining how relevant certain impacts become.
  • Not all impacts are quantifiable: some impacts, particularly those that are social or environmental, are more difficult to measure and determine, which can complicate the overall analysis.

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