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What Is Change Impact Analysis?

M. McGee
M. McGee

A change impact analysis can be one of two related things. One version relates to the change itself, finding out what needs changing, how to change it and what the change will cost the company. The second version centers on the results of the change, how it will impact profits, schedules and corporate identity. The two types of reports are occasionally integrated, but a change impact analysis of that magnitude is often impractical for all but the biggest products from larger companies. Both types of analysis are incorporated into the larger change management field, a discipline that covers preparing for, undertaking and dealing with changes in businesses.

The two forms of change impact analysis stem from two different economists' original interpretation of the term. The analyses themselves cover a great deal of the same information, but they do it from different standpoints. The version that relates to the change focuses mostly on the design and method of the change. The second version focuses on the overall risk and reward offered by the change. In both cases, the goal of the analysis is to allow companies to make informed decisions on changes to methodology, process or organization.

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Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Performing a change impact analysis may be much more complicated than it appears on the surface. It is rare that a process has nothing that it depends on and nothing that depends on it. These types of processes are called orphans and are, by far, the easiest things to change. When dealing with an orphan, the change impact analysis is often quite simple, as the change won’t have long-reaching effects.

Orphan processes are very uncommon in modern business. Most systems in a business connect to dependents, which are processes that come after the system, and parents, processes that come before. The way the examined system interacts with these two groups is not always clear. In addition, a change to either of these groups, as a result of a change to the examined system, can have a ripple effect on any of their parents and dependents. It is only by examining every one of these connections that the change impact analysis can truly illustrate the results of the change.

These analyses are typically portions of the greater field of change management. This area focuses on the greater effects of change in business. People that specialize in change management will often oversee projects, commonly on a freelance basis, in order help a company smoothly transition from one system to another.

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