Business Analysts often function as agents of change, canvassing for improvements in the business or pointing out when a change should be nipped in the bud, for example, when the costs of implementing a requested feature outweighs the benefits. Changes often mark the beginning of projects, with some change requests coming in during the project and even after the project has been implemented.
Not all changes are created equally, however. While some change initiatives are implemented with minimal resistance, some are faced with stiff resistance, conflicting interests and fears that need to be managed to ensure that the desired change sees the light of day. Managing change requests is particularly important in ensuring that the business does not spend its limited resources on changes that offer no real value at the expense of those that can deliver real value and lasting benefits.
So, whether you’re a BA submitting a change request to effect an improvement the business needs or you are interfacing with stakeholders that have a host of requests, this piece outlines key activities to keep in mind when dealing with change requests:
Note that the BA may be involved in these activities along with other project team members:
- Changes need to be recorded for a complete audit trail in the system. A change request form is a tool that helps to define the specific business problem that needs a solution, the cause of the change and should be approved by the requester and their manager before it reaches the BA for initial assessment.
- The change log should be updated when there is a new change request. It is usually managed by the Project Manager but the BA may be granted access to update the change log, depending on the organizational structure in place.
- Change requests need to be assessed and analysed. The impact of each change request should be assessed at a high level to assist the Change Control Board (CCB) in making decisions to implement or not implement the change request. As part of assessing the impact of the change, the Business Analyst may be required to:
- Conduct fact-finding into the request to better understand its merits
- Trace the impact of the change to other high-level business requirements
- Determine the impact of the change to customers, business units, processes, people, systems and documents
- Validate the impact of the change with other stakeholders and team members and
- Identify a practical solution and determine the cost of implementation, estimated duration and the number of resources needed to implement the change
- Present the change request and the suggested solution to the CCB which ideally should comprise a representative of the implementing unit, the business unit and the sponsor. Changes should be submitted for review to the CCB which has the authority to approve, delay or disapprove the implementation of the request. In some cases, project resources will need to be re-negotiated to implement the change.
- Store the change request records as proof of what was requested
- Conduct further analysis on each change request based on approved priorities
- All the relevant documents affected by the change should be updated. You may add the change request as an appendix to the document that has changed. You may also want to get signoff on the affected documents. Whenever system changes are implemented, associated procedures and documents should be updated accordingly. Examples of documents that may need to be updated include Business requirement documents, project plans, test scripts, policy documents, training materials, business process documents, etc.
- Ensure that the change is implemented by following up on the creation of units of work needed for it to be done.
Business analysts as part of what they do, suggest recommendations for improvement that when implemented, lead to changes in the business. They should be involved in the change process from the onset so that they can provide clarity and context to why the perceived need for change might be essential or unnecessary.