Change Management - Impact Analysis

This is one of the more complex parts of change management, and one of the tasks which will be very specific to the host organisation. Yet it can be a key activity in ensuring that the right approach is being taken for the specific situation.

Some change management specialists prefer not to use the term 'change management'.  We tend to agree, but the term has become relatively accepted in project management and HR terminology.  Some consultants refer to the process by using the term 'As is - To be'.   This simply refers to the fact that the objective is to take people from the situation as it currently is, to how we want it to be.

Impact Analysis (in terms of change management) is the process of mapping out the situation as it is before any of the proposed changes take place (Scanning) and then determining the impact on the environment of the proposed change.

Specialists select from a plethora of tools and methodologies, and tend to draw from their own experience as to what works best in a given context. 

The scope of the exercise varies depending on the nature of the business, and the nature of change being proposed. However the underlying objective is to map the environment which is to be affected by the change, to more precisely plan the tasks to be achieved by the change management project. The potential range of activities is so large, and so dependent on the situation, that we would not even attempt to describe it in detail.

At the high level, the type of activities are easy to understand. We want to find out such things as:-
  • Current job descriptions, and how the 'real world' situation varies from those documented 
  • Formal and informal information flows
  • Work processes (which may be documented elsewhere in the project)
  • Prevailing cultures in the target area
  • Formal / informal relationships within the area, and between the 'target' area and others
  • Demographics of the impacted areas
  • History of the work areas
  • Current budget and funding situation

We gather information so that we can start to understand issues such as:
  • How significant is the change?
  • Is the area in question considered to be an effectively functioning unit?
  • Does the area have a history of change, or is this something very new?
  • Who is likely to accept change, who will fight it, and who will be overwhelmed by it?
  • Who are the opinion leaders?
  • What type and level of assistance / training / counseling will they need leading up to, during, and after the project implementation?
  • What impact will this have on ongoing funding?
In summary, how big is the impact of the proposed change, and how well prepared are the people in the area, to cope with it?  On a recent assignment, there were separate sub-projects, each affecting a number of work areas. Each area had a detailed impact analysis report prepared, requiring many hours of investigation and leading to many more hours of activity. The reports were up to 60 pages per area, and we are pleased to report that the results were very rewarding! 

The change team can use this information to design the change management plan, and ensure it is tailored to the specific needs of the people in question.

Photo used under Creative Commons from LuMaxArt