Change Impact Assessment

What is a change impact assessment?

A change impact assessment is a series of steps that you go through to assess and analyse the impact of a proposed organisational change.

Change needs to happen if an organisation wants to deliver on its vision and thrive in today’s fast-paced, global economy. Change enables organisations to drive results more efficiently and ensure the business has the relevant competencies in place for growth.

Whether change is planned, structured and clear or whether it takes place over time in an organic way, successful organisational change can be difficult to achieve.

Impact analysis is a useful brainstorming technique for considering the full impact of a proposed change. It also acts as a critical aspect of the evaluation process. Impact analysis enables you to identify the problems before they arise so that plans can be put in place to mitigate their impact.

Six Steps that will aid in Organisational Change Impact Analysis

  1. Put together a team that has access to all the relevant information sources.
  2. Make sure that the proposed change is clearly defined and that everyone involved in the change impact analysis is clearly briefed as to the proposal and what the change is designed to address.
  3. Brainstorm the key differences that will occur from the original state to when the proposed change is complete.
  4. Focus on the possible effects of the key differences identified in step #3. Identify who and what might be affected. Consider the impact on different departments, processes, customers, stakeholders, others.
  5. Prioritise the possible positive and negative effects from step #4 from the key differences in step #3, based on the size of the impact and the consequences of the decision.
  6. Use the results to make a decision and to manage the consequences. Consider whether it is worth proceeding based on the negative consequences and the cost of managing those consequences. Identify the actions that will be needed to mitigate the consequences. Identify the people impact and whether change will be supported or resisted. Identify the strategies that can be put in place to manage the negative consequences if they arise.

The burke-litwin model1 helps organisations to identify the drivers for change, to rank them in order of importance and to consider their implications.

The model is expressed in diagrammatical form with the most important factors featuring at the top. The layers beneath gradually become less important.

Burke-Litwin Causal Model of Organisation Performance and Change

External Environment
This includes such factors as markets, legislation, competition and the economy. Change managers need to continually scan the environment for issues that will affect the change. What external factors could impact a change process in your organisation?

Mission and Strategy
An organisation’s mission articulates its reason for existing and is the foundation upon which all activity should be built. The strategy then describes how the organisation will go about achieving its mission. The strategy may have a significant impact on roles in the business and change managers need to understand any required change in strategy and to communicate the implications to the employees. What are the potential changes to strategy that will be brought about by the changes?

This includes the attitudes and behaviour of senior colleagues and how these behaviours are perceived by the organisation as a whole. The way in which change is implemented and accepted through the organisation will be largely influenced by the top team. What are you observing that would indicate senior colleagues are committed (or not) to the change?

Organisation Culture
Organisation culture can be described as ‘the way we do things around here’. It considers the beliefs, behaviours, values and conventions that prevail in an organisation. Culture change, however, does not happen overnight. It evolves over time as a result of many other changes in the organisation. Change managers need to be aware of the desired culture of the organisation, how people should be expected to behave (and not to behave), and what the organisation values as important. Managers need to role model the desired behaviour at all times and show that they ‘walk the talk’. What is the desired culture for the organisation and the behaviour that needs to be modelled?

Very often, changes in strategy can lead to changes in the way the organisation is structured. This can impact relationships, responsibilities and ways of working. Change managers need to assess the impact of the structural change and ensure that people understand why it is required and what it means for them. What structural change may be needed as a result of the changes in strategy? How will these changes be communicated?

Work Unit Climate
This includes employee perceptions of the working environment which shapes the view of the organisation as a whole and influences levels of job satisfaction. Changes to the immediate working environment need to be managed sensitively, as they are likely to invoke a range of emotional responses from staff. This is particularly the case where change involves moving location, a change in personnel, or a change in terms of conditions of service, such as working hours. What changes to the work climate may occur as a result of the changes?

Task Requirements and Individual Skills / Abilities
Change at a higher level in the organisation will often require changes in the work carried out and the skills available in the team. Change managers need to assess whether all the right skills are in place, if they can be developed or if they need to be recruited from outside the organisation. What skills could be needed as a result of the changes? Are these skills already in place or do they need to be sourced internally and/or externally?

Individual Needs and Values
Changes within a team may mean a change in the team dynamic. Change managers need to identify and mitigate any risks. What changes in team dynamic do you perceive could take place? How will you lessen this impact?

Employee Motivation
Motivation is key to effective change. The real challenge is to maintain motivation throughout a change project, particularly when change is often not well-received by those affected.

Research suggest that approximately 70 per cent of change initiatives fail due to crucial elements of the change process being missed.  If you’re in the early stages of planning a major change for your organisation, our expert advice and services will ensure your change effort has the best change for success.  Talk to us to find out how we can help you with the challenges that change represents for your organisation.

[1] Burke & Litwin, ‘A Causal Model of Organisation Performance and Change’, Journal of Management, Vol 18, No 3 (1992), pp 523–545.

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