In the topic of software engineering, the change management process is an essential phase that many systems undergo.
This guide goes in-depth to explain the characteristics of the change management process from a software engineering outlook, and the objectives or purpose of applying it.
With that said, let’s get right into it!
What is the Change Management Process?
Within the lifetime of a particular software, especially for large-scale systems in terms of functionality and/or user base, it may undergo changes in certain departments or areas. These system changes include bug fixes, additions or updates in the system functionality in order to adapt to a changing business environment. On that note, to make sure that this changing process is implemented in a systematic, controlled, and safe manner, a well-structured change management process is employed.
Overall, the main goal of the change management process is to make sure that the system evolution is conducted in a managed procedure. Hence, essentially, it’s to control the lifecycle of all the changes that a software development company must handle. So, this allows only beneficial and worthwhile changes to be made/implemented, especially with minimal disruptions to the original system and their IT services.
Objectives of the Change Management Process
1. Ensures the most urgent and cost-effective changes are conducted first
We can see this by viewing the overall workflow of the change management process. First, a change request is made and submitted by the customer (aka the first line user) to the development team. Then, the product development team must assess and filter the change requests based on their urgency.
They analyse various factors regarding the change request, mainly including the cost and manpower/expertise that can be assigned to it. Therefore, they can handle all the change requests properly, despite having limited manpower. So, it involves analysing and approving these worthwhile changes and constantly tracking the changes that have been completed.
These validated changes are recorded and evaluated thoroughly, after that, the changes are prioritized, planned, tested, implemented, documented and reviewed in a systematic manner. Overall, allowing only authorized change requests to be sanctioned and their software undergoes modification.
2. Allows the clients to review the system to elicit additional requirements
Additionally, the change management process is a way for the customer to elicit additional requirements after having the opportunity to test the system whilst in the development process. From there, they’re allowed to request additions or updates to the system functionality allowing the system to respond to the customer’s changing business requirements and aligned with their current needs.
Hence, this maximizes the system’s value to its user and ensures the changes are implemented systematically resulting in less interference, disruptions and additional re-work that’s required. So, this process may involve or facilitate the development of different versions of the application, each with a different set of functionalities. During these changes, developers prioritise that the software quality is maintained. This is especially ensured, as through the change management process, knowledge is first applied before the change is implemented. Hence, the change is supported by preliminary research and ensures that the knowledge about the system is leveraged and improved.
3. Allows efficient identification and management of a particular change’s impact
Along with that, a crucial benefit of the change management process is to pinpoint and manage the impact of a certain change. From there, the developers can ease the incorporation of change or optimisation of an overall business risk. Hence, changes to the system are executed with minimal overhead.
As changes are implemented in stages and planned out first, this process minimises the business risk and is appropriate to intentionally accept risk to the system. Thus, solely harnessing its potential advantage to the system instead. Therefore, to take advantage of a high-risk high-reward scenario, the best course of action is to implement a change management process. This reduces the risk exposure while supporting the risk profile required by the business and the severity of the impact and disruption of the change.
This can especially be achieved since the change management process outlines that all the stakeholders obtain regular and timely correspondence and alerts regarding the particular system change so they’re aware and prepared to adopt and support the change. So, communication, socialisation and informing the stakeholders are key requirements of the change management process as they can reduce the resistance to the change.
Through this preliminary communication, we can address initial concerns within the stakeholders and improve the change with collective support, and even receive valuable feedback. Hence, ensuring the change doesn’t shock the system and its users/stakeholders, and is integrated smoothly. Plus, it confirms that the change request is acceptable by all the key members and stakeholders. Typically, all these factors contribute to the process usually attaining success at its first attempt.
4. Establishing an innovative culture or principles within the company/organization
This is a more unseen or intangible benefit of the software change management process. Nevertheless, innovation is considered the lifeblood of the change management process. This is especially beneficial for the members of a particular development or client team that’s adopted a habit of resisting change, so introducing change to their system can be challenging and difficult.
Through a systematic and strategic approach with the change management process, the changes are detailed and thoroughly planned in order for them to be accepted by all the key members. So, this establishes the changing and creative culture, which is a highly prioritised objective of the change management process. This helps the members of the organisation or system to actively identify change and hold accountability and responsibility for the system where they can establish expectations or goals for the potential changes that can be made.
Along with that, this changing and creative culture is an activity that’s at every level of the organization, hence developing leaders, also known as agents of change, within the organisation to advocate and introduce positive changes to their systems. Thus, the change management process also ensures that tasks in implementing certain changes are delegated with sufficient authority to various developers, workers or agents of change.
To sum up, this guide explores in detail what the change management process entails from a software engineering perspective as well as the objectives and goals of conducting it.
We hope that you found this guide helpful in shedding more light on this topic of the change management process in software engineering. Before we end, do comment down below, if you have any questions regarding this topic or if you have any additional information or experience to share regarding the change management process. We’ll love to hear it!
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