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Project Requirements Process R090

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown

R090 – Assess Organisational Impact

SIIPS Requirements Processes (R).png


SIIPS Requirements Process R90.pngProvide a high-level statement of the impact that the defined requirements will have on the organisation during and after implementation.


The purpose of this process is to develop and confirm a common understanding amongst all decision makers regarding the expected and desired effects of the new system on the organisation and how the implementation effort itself will affect the organisation.
This should help to:
  • define the appropriate project structure for the implementation;
  • identify supporting projects where needed or ensure that the right links are established with existing projects;
  • confirm that the project induced changes support the overall organisational strategy.
To understand what is meant by organisational impact it is useful to review the definition of ‘impact’:
  • forcible touch,
  • blow,
  • shock of a moving body that strikes against another.
All these definitions indicate varying degrees of force and unease caused by an external, new element. A system implementation can be interpreted as such an external element that affects the existing organisation.
Three elements will influence the strength of the organisational impact:
  • the scope of the changes the organisation will undergo,
  • the organisation’s ability to cope with these changes,
  • the strength and the acceptance of the case to implement the system and the associated changes.
Each of these factors will need to be assessed to obtain a complete picture of the organisational impact of the new system.


This process is optional.  It is common practice where there is a significant organisational impact involved in the project.


Prerequisites (Finish-Start):
  • Review / confirm business needs and anticipated benefits (L020)
  • Define and agree change management approach (L050)
  • Needs for business change (R050)
Prerequisites (Finish-Finish):
  • Setup / revise and agree communications plan (L060)
  • System “vision” – overview of desired system (R070)
Dependent procedures (Finish-Finish):
  • Produce Definition of Requirements (R150)
  • revise communications plan for next segment (L060)


  • high-level view of requirements, needs for business change etc


  • Review of Organisational Impact -part of Definition of Requirements (DoR)


  • Topographical survey


Assessing the size and scope of change to the organisation

A first aspect of organisational impact is the amount and the size of changes that the organisation will need to undergo for the new system to be implemented successfully and realise the projected benefits. The larger the gap between the current set-up and the future organisation, the more challenging the task of managing the organisational impact during and after implementation.
The following factors need to be considered to obtain a full picture of the size and scope of the change:
  • The effect on the allocation of responsibilities to departments.
This applies both to user departments and IT departments; for instance, the system might allow user departments to implement a certain amount of system changes without the intervention of the IT department; responsibilities for maintenance of client data could shift from a central unit to the regional offices.
  • The effect on job numbers and job definitions.
Within each department manual tasks could be automated, new tasks need to be taken on or tasks need to be allocated to other people. For instance, manual transfer of information could be done by the system, and decision making might be delegated because up-to-date information is available to salespeople in the field.
  • The effect on relationships with groups or individuals external to the organisation: customers, suppliers, government, etc.
For instance, maintaining centralised supplier information could allow for tighter follow-up of supplier performance and the negotiation of better rates.
  • The effect on accommodation.
An effect of a new system could be that offices need to be rearranged to accommodate terminals and printing facilities.  In other cases it could mean that the need for central accommodation is reduced if, for example, salespeople could access information from home.
  • The effect on personnel profiles.
The introduction of the new system might require individuals in the organisation to develop IT skills as well as new business skills to be able to use the new IT system to its full extent.  For instance, the introduction of a new purchasing system might require different people to develop strong negotiation skills so that they can deal with vendors.
  • The effect on the organisation’s performance and reward systems.
New systems usually mean that new information is available to measure performance. For instance, a new cost accounting system might enable the organisation to allocate and follow-up budget responsibilities more strictly.
  • The effect on the organisational culture.
New systems will usually challenge some of the unwritten laws in the organisation, for instance in highly competitive organisations, the company-wide availability of hitherto expert information could require a new approach to sharing information and teamwork.
To obtain this information, the defined requirements will need to be interpreted for each of the points listed and differences from the current situation will need to be assessed. For the more intangible aspects, such as the organisational culture, it might first be necessary to understand what the current situation is before it can be compared to the proposed model.
Assessing the organisation’s ability to cope with change
A second aspect of the organisational impact lies in the organisation’s capacity to cope with the extent of change identified. The following factors will need to be assessed:
  • the proposed timeframes and their allowance for preparation and implementation of the proposed changes,
  • the existing attitude and approach to communication,
  • the attitude to training, and especially IT training,
  • the change implementation history – this includes the perceived success of past projects, resistance management practices, the presence of reinforcement techniques, the visibility of leadership, etc,
  • the availability of resources, both numbers and quality – this will require an understanding of current market conditions, personnel turn-over, existing recruitment policies, etc,
  • existing and projected stress levels and the ability of people in the organisation to change their current ways of working and thinking – this is likely to be influenced by the demands of other projects going on at the same moment.
To obtain a full picture of the organisation’s ability to cope with change, people from different parts of the organisation will need to be involved.  This will in most cases require some from of briefing on the proposed requirements.  In addition to this internal information gathering process, it will prove useful to identify what organisations where similar systems have been implemented have experienced as difficulties and what opportunities they have successfully exploited.

Assessing the organisational case for change

The third element of organisational impact is the strength of the case for change.  This is determined by two factors:
  • The identification of the internal and external drivers to change.
To be committed to changes, people need to understand why change is needed in the first place. An understanding needs to be built of what dangers are likely to occur if no change is implemented or of the opportunities missed when the status quo is maintained.  It is therefore essential to assess how well these dangers and opportunities have been analysed and identified to demonstrate that there is a strong case for change rather than the project being seen as change for change’s sake.
  • The understanding and buy-in to the drivers for change
In addition to checking the sheer existence of drivers for change, it is vital to assess whether these drivers are relevant to all parts of the organisation and/or people affected by the new system.  It will also be necessary to identify whether all the right people in the organisation have had an opportunity to understand and buy-in to the drivers for change.
Typical steps to assess this aspect of the organisational impact will include:
  • revisiting benefits and objectives for the project as defined in the launch segment of the project,
  • identifying the key people affected by the change and their organisational leaders / influencers,
  • assessing for each of those key groups / leaders identified how the identified drivers apply to their part of the organisation and whether they are aware of them
Using the organisational impact assessment
Understanding the organisational impact is not an end but a means to allow the organisation to opt consciously for this level of organisational impact and to help the organisation prepare ways of coping with it.
Therefore the organisational impact assessment should be documented and used:
  • to build a common understanding of the organisational impact
    • within the project team,
    • with the decision makers and
    • with user management,
  • to identify what supporting projects need to be set-up,
  • to confirm the scope of the project responsibilities and allocate responsibilities to other organisational units or roles where needed,
  • to start identifying what sort of implementation structure will be required,
  • to identify and implement the right communication lines between the project team and other projects and between the project team and the users/user management.

Documenting the organisational impact

The findings from this process are documented in the “Review of Organisational Impact”.  This forms part of Definition of Requirements (DoR).  The contents should be agreed informally with the relevant user managers prior to its publication in the DoR  (see Process R150).

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