How to Complete a Change Impact Assessment

Change Impact Assessment

What is a change impact assessment? It’s essentially an exercise to understand and document the key impacts of the proposed changes. So whatever your change program or project is trying to achieve, this is really going to get into the detail in terms of what’s going to be the difference in the future. So what’s that gap between the as-is and the to-be? Who ultimately will be impacted in terms of different stakeholders and populations and how, and what’s the magnitude? Are we talking about really significant changes to how people do their jobs, to the ways of working, significant skills that they need to learn, etc.? Or is it going to be a small change that we don’t need to have too much of a significant change response to? Your change impact assessment is a really critical step in order to shape your detailed change plan and your detailed change responses because until you’ve done it, you can’t fully understand what’s going to be required in terms of training, communications, etc.

What does it involve? Essentially, you’re going to collect data on all the impacts that you can around what the change program is going to be delivering. The data is helping you understand what’s going to be the difference between the current and future state. Then you’re going to analyze it in terms of whether it’s the magnitude of the impact, and then you’re going to implement in terms of understanding and identifying what your change response is going to be for these impacts.

What is meant by change impacts?

When you’re thinking about change impacts, it’s useful to think about them in terms of different categories or themes. For example:

  • Processes

  • Organization design (meaning team structures, roles, etc.)

  • Technology, tools, or data

  • Behaviour change- culture change or mindset

  • Skills and knowledge

This isn’t an exhaustive list. You may find others that list other things; you may find different labels, and that’s all okay. But broadly, this is a good way of thinking about the different types or categories of change impact that you’re going to want to be analyzing for and understanding.

Once you’re understanding the impacts, the next step would be to rate them as high, medium, or low, and that basically tells you the order of magnitude of the impact. So if it’s high, it’s a really significant change, and we’re going to need to have a significant change response to help us manage that. For example, an entirely new system, we’re going to have to train everyone on it; we’re going to have to make sure they’re not going back toward ways of working; that could be something that’s got really high impact and a significant change response.

Example change impacts

So this is just to give you an example of some of the types of impacts you’ll be looking to understand within each of those areas. When you’re conducting your impact assessment, you want to have questions that relate to each of these areas if you decide to use these buckets of activity. So in processes, for example, you’re going to be asking people to describe any new processes, any new policies in relation to processes, any standardization that’s going to happen with regards to organization design. You’d be asking questions about headcount size of teams, shape of team structure, operating model. With regards to skills, you’d be looking at what new skills, capabilities, and knowledge are needed, who needs it, and at what level. Behavior change, what kinds of mindset or new cultures and behaviors do we need to adopt? This will then inform what change responses you’re going to be doing. So what type of training do we need? Do we need it? What type of communications campaign are we going to have to go for here? Do we need change investors in different operating units or functions? 

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