Change Management

Change Management is a structured approach to ease individuals and organizations in making organizational change.

Change is a difficult process to adapt to in every facet of life. More so for businesses and software development. For businesses, adjusting to changes in rules and regulations can be a strenuous process that takes time to implement. In software, rolling out patches and updates is a taxing operation that can introduce bugs and contradictions into the software. 

Change management is a system that aims to facilitate instituting organizational changes. Through change management, you use methods to ease individuals and whole companies—and in this case software—into adjusting to new systems. 

In this article, we’ll define change management and the necessary steps for implementing it. 

What is Change Management? 

Change management is a systematic approach that addresses the incorporation of organizational changes. These changes can deal with adopting new policies, goal changes, and the use of new technology. 

For software development, change management can be used to address the conflicts that may arise when introducing software updates or system changes. 

By using change management, you can make the process of introducing changes into your software a pain-free experience for both developers and users. 

The 7 Rs of Change Management

Whenever a change is requested for software, you need to address the “7 Rs” of change management. The 7 Rs are the most important factors to consider when implementing change. 

Addressing these points is important for both the developers who are going to implement changes and the users who are expecting the changes to come.

1. What is the Reason Behind the Change? 

What’s the reason behind the change? Why are your users asking you to make changes to your software?

The first factor to consider before implementing change is the reason. You need to determine why users are requesting a change in your software and if these changes are warranted. 

To implement change you first need evidence that supports the need for change. For example, if your stakeholders request changes due to a bug in the system that’s causing the software to malfunction for multiple users, you should address the issues. On the other hand, if a small minority of users request the addition of features, a change could be unnecessary. 

When you can determine the reason behind a change request, you can ascertain whether the change is warranted. 

2. What Are the Involved Risks?

Implementing changes into software always comes with some risk. You then need to determine whether you can minimize the risks involved with implementing a change.

Rolling out a software update can cause a conflict in the existing program. If you can mitigate these risks, the update is worth implementing. An additional factor to consider is if the update will alienate your users. For example, a change to your software’s user interface can upset your current customers. 

You need to weigh the risks that come with changing your software against the benefits an update can provide. 

3. What Resources Are Required? 

When conducting a structural change, there will always be a cost involved with the change. You need to consider what resources will be required when implementing changes.

When releasing an update to your software, these resources will involve your developer’s time and the energy to create and release the update. Developers can be working on a new project rather than creating an update or adding new features to old software. You need to keep in mind, that the energy you spend on coding and releasing a new feature you could also use for other means. 

Executing changes requires always resources, so you need to consider whether expending these resources will be worth it. 

4. Who Raised the Request?

You need to keep in mind who instigated the change request. This person will be the one who will raise the evidence in support of change.

If a developer finds a bug and requests a change in the software, you need to work with this developer. They will have the evidence that necessitates the change. Furthermore, the developer can pinpoint if the change was implemented successfully.

Taking note of the person who raised the change request is key to adopting change management. 

5. What Are Your Expected Returns?

What is the expected outcome (returns) once a change has been implemented?

You should determine whether implementing a change is worth the costs required to amend the issue. For example, fixing a minor bug in a program might not be worth it because the bug doesn’t affect major functions. Furthermore, fixing a small bug might not be worth the development time it takes to address the bug.

Your returns should outweigh the costs when implementing changes. 

6. Who is Responsible for Implementing, Testing, and Creating Change? 

You should prepare a list of personnel needed to conduct change. First, assign which developers will be responsible for coding a system update. Then, you need to determine the quality assurance (QA) testers to observe how the update affects the software.

By having a prepared assigned staff responsible for implementing updates, you’ll have an easier time addressing changes. 

7. Relationship Between Change Requests 

There will be an endless number of requests for updates and changes to your software. So, you have to ascertain the relationship between change requests and the changes you’re implementing.

You have to find out whether implementing an update will affect any request unrelated to the update. For example, let’s say you get a request to add a feature. But to add the feature, you must first patch out a bug that prohibits a new feature from functioning. So, you first need to update your software to remove the bug, then can you add new features. 

Establishing the relationship between each change request will allow you to have an overview of how updates or changes will affect different requests.

The ADKAR Model of Change Management

To facilitate the process of adapting to change management, you can reference the ADKAR model. 

With the ADKAR model as a reference, you can guide your staff through the process of adopting change and address the 7 Rs of change management.

  • Awareness - When applying for a change to your software, the entire organization needs to know the reason behind the change. 
  • Desire - The people implementing a change need to have the desire to support and participate in the changes. 
  • Knowledge - There needs to be an understanding of how changes will be implemented. 
  • Ability - People need the capacity to apply the changes. The software engineers constructing the changes need to have the know-how to implement a software update.
  • Reinforcement - Once a change has been implemented, you have to enforce the benefits of the change. For instance, if you add new features to your software, you need to encourage users to take advantage of the new features. 

Change Management: A Vehicle for Change 

Change is never an easy thing to accept. Adjusting to something new can be difficult for people. Through the use of change management, you have a guide to facilitate change. With proper implementation, you can use change management to appease your users and software developers.