Learn to assess the impact of change in an organisational initiative

A Change Impact Assessment (CIA) provides quality information to influence design choices about the Change Process (or Change Programme) supporting a change. In short, to ‘Know thy change and the implications’.

An initial Assessment commences while the project is being initiated to quickly acquire vital knowledge that will influence the plans for change activity and development/implementation work.

Assessing the effect of changing is a emergent process, best managed with a recording tool and regular update activities. The process and tool are typically the responsibility of a Change Manager or Senior Change Analyst.

This resource explains how to use the Change Impact Assessment technique and tool.

The technique in brief

  1. Define extent of proposed change, evaluating the difference between current and proposed future states.
  2. Estimate effects and impact of changing states; determine transition requirements.
  3. Sort transition requirements based on impact and priority ratings.
  4. Make design decisions based on requirements specified.

A. The tool
B. Collating data and determining requirements
C. Using data and requirements


A. The tool

Assessment-Change Impact-Template (XLXS; MS Excel)

(In addition to the notes below, there are Reference Notes within the file on a Sheet, named ‘Notes’.)

The tool is a dynamic knowledge-base for Change team and/or Project team, with ongoing additions and amendments.


B. Collating data and determining requirements

B1. Data collection

High-level NOW and FUTURE States
1. Start by defining initial single High-level Now (Original or Current) and Future states for the whole change. (The High-level state maybe refined over time.)

Example of High-level state definitions

Now State 
Future  State
People following varied work practices and using disparate tools to manage business information and experiencing frustration and inefficiencies and risking organisational non-compliance People following new common work practices and using new fit-for-purpose tools to better manage business information so they are more effective, efficient and satisfied in their work and increase organisational compliance


2. Use the High-level definition to orientate the Lower-level change states.


Lower-level NOW and FUTURE States

Listen, observe, and read to discover Now and/or Future lower-level states regarding the change.
Gather formal and informal knowledge about the changes from a variety of stakeholders in a variety of settings.
A good kick-off for a CIA is a 2-3 hour exploratory workshop with a group of representative stakeholders.

1. For each NOW state, explore and define the probable or desired FUTURE state.

2. For each FUTURE state, explore and define the original or NOW state.

a. You may only initially identify one of the states in some analysis situations (e.g. in a fast-paced workshop). Come back and complete the missing state when it becomes clear.
b. In some cases, there may not be a NOW state because the change has no connection to the present and therefore has no prior state.

Examples of Lower-level state definitions

 Now State
 Future  State
Business Information is stored on network drives Business Information is stored in HP TRIM application
User chooses label for folder and creates folder on network drive Records Mgmt team choose label for ‘folder’ and create label in HP TRIM application
N/A Legacy records are migrated into HP TRIM by each user (rather than batch process by team) or most likely a User representative who does the team’s migration
Individuals learn how to store business information from their colleagues in an irregular manner that is specific to the local context. Individuals learn how to store business information from classes, induction activities and online training to ensure best understanding of the organisational guidelines and preferences for local and whole-organisation contexts.


3. Where possible, for each set of states (i.e. Transition), name the person who validated the states as correctly defined. Also enter a date when validation was completed.

Validation data is particularly useful when there is scepticism about what is observed or defined.

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B2. Assessment

Transition Process Requirements

1. For each set of states, i.e. Transition, consider the effects and impact of moving from current (NOW) to proposed FUTURE state.

2. Translate the effects and impact into Requirements that will mitigate or optimise the effects of changing.

Requirements to address:

  • Engaging with stakeholders
  • Informational or promotional activities
  • Learning or educational activities and artefacts
  • Support activities and artefacts
  • Business analysis and design activities
  • Deployment or rollout process
  • Organisational instruments (i.e. process, business rules, policy, procedure)
  • Configuration of tools

Examples of Lower-level state definitions with Transition Process Requirements

Now State
Future  State Transition Process Requirements
Business Information is stored on network drives Business Information is stored in HP TRIM application
  • Business rule to define Business Info
  • Education on what-is Business Info
    (compared to other info, e.g. personal)
  • Education on how-to put Business Info in HP TRIM
  • Transition procedure for finding &
    accessing others’ Business Info when not-yet a HP TRIM user
User chooses label for folder and creates
folder on network drive
Records Mgmt (RM) team choose label for ‘folder’ and create label in HP TRIM application
  • Business rule about valid values for
    Business Classification Scheme (BCS)
  • Procedure for requesting new label in HP TRIM
  • Education about what-is BCS
  • Education on how-to use BCS when creating entries and searching entries
N/A Legacy records are migrated into HP TRIM by each user (rather than batch process by team) or most likely a User  representative who does the team’s migration
  • Advise users that transitional data entry
    value ‘me’ will automatically translate into the Logged in user value
  • Set expectations about time/effort to spend  in migrating legacy documents
  • Explain mapping of network folder structure to HP TRIM BCS structure
Some users scan documents using Multi-Function Device (MFD) MFD will be supplemented by imaging workstations for users to scan documents; scanned Document will be an attachment to email that user must register in HP TRIM; users have option to request scanning service by RM Team
  • Reconfiguration of MFD to route to TRIM
  • Education re assigning title and other
    attributes at MFD or email
  • Education re how-to use imaging workstation
  • Education about new RM Team service
  • Procedure for RM Team to receive and manage scanning requests
  • Promotion of scanning facilities as a
    method to make documents electronic and reduce paper recordkeeping


Other Assessment: For each TRANSITION

3. Classify the Level of change as Organisational or Individual.

Organisational‘ – something the organisation ‘experiences’ as a change, e.g. a new software is installed. Organisational is irrespective of any particular individual, and persists even if organisational membership changes.
Individual‘ – something individuals experience as a personal change, e.g. learning to use new software.

4. Name the class of People who will be affected by either the Transition, Future state, or Now state (e.g. Management, All Staff, Record Managers, Board Members, Executive Assistants, etc.  In determining whether there is an effect, consider things that will be lost or gained.

5. Name the class of Systems or Processes which will be affected by either the Transition, Future state, or Now state. In determining whether there is an impact and effect, consider things that will be modified, replaced, or decommissioned.

6. Rate the Degree of Impact on the affected people or systems and processes. Rating: High, Medium or Low.

7. Assign a Priority for the process requirements, particularly in consideration of the Impact rating. Rating: High, Medium or Low.

8. Note the Risk(s) that are identified in transitioning to Future state.

9. Note the Benefit(s) that could be expected in transitioning to Future state.

Use this field to note benefits that might be important in promoting the change to people in the organisation. It is expected that there will be benefits [1] that can be defined and used, and will not be of interest and therefore not capture, in a traditional Benefits Realisation Plan.

[1] These benefits are likely to be more granular in detail; thus be benefits to Individuals rather than the Organisation.

NB: Not every Transition will have associated Risks or Benefits. It is expected that Risks and Benefits are properly documented in Risk Management and Benefit Realisation Plans. The columns in the CIA are simply for a quick in-the-moment data capture, and data should be relocated to appropriate business/project documentation for appropriate management.

10. If you end up with a large data set, consider adding a new column called Category and define a limited set of values to better organise data set into sensible related groups.

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C. Using data and requirements

1. Sort or filter Transitions (i.e. pairs of states) based on:

  • Impact and Priority to prioritise development and delivery activity.
  • Affected People, Affected Systems and Level to determine targeted activity.
  • Category (if utilised) to organise targeted activity.

2. Regularly draw upon Requirement details to shape the style and substance of the change process.


Use in other contexts

The CIA data can be used in different planning contexts:

a) to decide whether-to and how-to proceed for a proposed change, having explored and determined the extent of change work and impact;

b) to discover the context and relationships across multiple high-level changes;

c) to design the change process for a specified change that will proceed; or

d) to discover and define the extent (breadth and depth) of a single specified change.

For a) and b) contexts, consider initially using a different tool with less detail and more visualisation, e.g. Futures Wheel. (Read more about Futures Wheel in article from MindTools™.)


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