Impact analysis is also known as Change Analysis and Solution Effect Analysis. When things change in your organization, do you ever wish that someone would think things through a little better to avoid the confusion and disruption that often follows? Or have you ever been involved in a project where, with hindsight, a great deal of pain could have been avoided with a little more up-front preparation and planning?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing – but so, too, is Impact Analysis. This technique is a useful and severely under-used brainstorming technique that helps you think through the full impacts of a proposed change. As such, it is an essential part of the evaluation process for major decisions.
More than this, it gives you the ability to spot problems before they arise, so that you can develop contingency plans to handle issues smoothly. This can make the difference between well-controlled and seemingly-effortless project management, and an implementation that is seen by your boss, team, clients and peers as a shambles.
Impact Analysis is a technique designed to unearth the “unexpected” negative effects of a change on an organization. It provides a structured approach for looking at a proposed change, so that you can identify as many of the negative impacts or consequences of the change as possible. Firstly, this makes it an important tool for evaluating whether you want to run a project. Secondly, and once the decision to go ahead has been made, it helps you prepare for and manage any serious issues that may arise.
All too often organizations do not undertake Impact Analysis. This is one reason that so many projects end in failure, as unforeseen consequences wreak havoc.
The challenge in conducting an Impact Analysis is firstly to capture and structure all the likely consequences of a decision; and then, importantly, to ensure that these are managed appropriately.
For smaller decisions, it can be conducted as a desk exercise. For larger or more risky decisions, it is best conducted with an experienced team, ideally with people from different functional backgrounds within the organization: With a team like this, you’re much more likely to spot all of the consequences of a decision than if you conduct the analysis on your own.