The Role Of A Business Analyst In Managing Change Requests

The dynamic nature of businesses, the operational landscape and stakeholders’ expectations can give rise to change requests, which need to be managed (approved, implemented and communicated) to prevent problems down the line. The principle of continuous improvement which some businesses adopt may also trigger the need to implement changes now and again. 

Change requests differ in number and complexity across business projects and may come in before, during or after implementation of a solution. This article discusses some key tips to be aware of when managing change requests from the business.

Understand the reason for the change

Ensure that you understand why the change is needed. At the point of analysis, this will help you and the stakeholder(s) determine if there are any existing and acceptable workarounds that can achieve the same objective, with minimal impact. The rationale for the change request can form a basis for deciding to implement or discard it, based on anticipated benefits and current capabilities when the change request is presented for approval. 

Understand the impact of the change

At this point, you should understand the side effects or consequences that the implementation of the change would have on other stakeholders, requirements, processes, procedures, policies or systems. The positive and negative impacts of the change should also be evaluated. Which job roles will be affected? Which activities have now become redundant or necessary?

Understand the effort required to implement the change

A change that provides little benefit but requires a significant amount of resources to implement may not be worth the effort. In order to make decisions about whether or not to implement a certain change, it is important to evaluate if the resources (time, staff, money, etc.) to be invested is commensurate with the benefits that are expected to be attained. It is useful at this point to liaise with developers or consultants who can determine how much work the change requires. 

Ensure that the change request follows the predetermined approval process

Change requests relating to existing systems or projects should not be implemented at will but passed through a change control board or steering committee so that they can be adequately prioritized. The composition of the change control board or team may vary depending on the nature of the requirements and the complexity of the change. For example, a change that affects only the requester and requires one hour of work may not require the change control board to determine whether to go ahead with it or not. 

Due to the fact that businesses are often faced with multiple requests to implement changes simultaneously, it is certainly important to identify which projects need to be worked on while taking into consideration the available resources and the expected benefits to be received from implementing such changes.

Implemented changes can affect stakeholders’ job functions, how existing processes are executed and how software systems work in general. The business analyst has a key role to play in change management, especially when it comes to identifying and minimising the domino effect that can occur when changes are made to a requirement that is dependent on other requirements. The insight of the BA should be applied to validating the impact of change requests across the business.

Picture Attribution: “Businessman Pushing Hard Against Falling Deck Of Domino Tiles” by Sira Anamwong/