Impact Analysis: What Is It and How to Conduct One?

Userpilot Team
7 min readFeb 19, 2024

You may have heard a horror story about a business not using impact analysis. It could be launching features that are half-finished and causing customer problems with THEIR customer. It could be push changes that bring your entire product down. Whatever it is, it’s not good. This could be avoided with the use of impact analysis.

TL;DR

  • Impact analysis evaluates the potential consequences of changes in a project, system, or process to inform decision-making and preparation.
  • Impact analysis is crucial for identifying risks, allocating resources, and enhancing customer satisfaction for project success.
  • Business impact analysis types include:
  1. Traceability, understanding how changes in one area affect others.
  2. Dependency, assessing risks in interconnected elements.
  3. Experimental, simulating changes for predicting outcomes, each tailored for comprehensive risk and impact assessment.
  • Impact assessment uses organizational, McKinsey 7S, and tools-based methods for goal alignment and data-driven insights.
  • Begin your impact analysis by identifying the change and outlining its scope, including what, where, and to whom it will apply.
  • Involve business leaders in brainstorming with tools like Miro to identify diverse impacts of change.
  • Analyze business processes and resources within the business function to understand the workflow and identify periods of low user activity. This analysis allows for the strategic scheduling of system maintenance, thereby optimizing operational efficiency.
  • Create contingency plans, efficiently allocate resources, and implement communication strategies, such as in-app banners, for user notifications on system maintenance. These actions are vital for minimizing negative impacts on user experience and ensuring operational continuity during unforeseen events.
  • Track key metrics such as product usage, support ticket volumes, and in-app feedback to monitor the impact of changes.
  • Analyze data to identify areas for improvement and refine strategies based on insights. Then, recommend enhancements to optimize the process and ensure alignment with organizational goals continuously.
  • If you need help identifying user trends, implementing in-app notifications, and creating user reports, book a demo with Userpilot.

What is impact analysis?

Impact analysis is a process to understand the potential consequences of changes in a project, system, or process before making decisions. It helps you evaluate the effects these changes could have, allowing you to prepare or adjust accordingly.

Why is it important to conduct an impact analysis?

Conducting an impact analysis is crucial for the smooth operation and success of any organizational project or change. Here’s why it’s so important:

  • Identify Potential Risks and Challenges: By analyzing potential risks and challenges early on, you can develop strategies to mitigate these risks. This proactive approach helps minimize disruptions and ensures your project stays on track.
  • Understand Resource Requirements and Allocate Resources Effectively: Impact analysis gives you a clear picture of the resources you’ll need, including time, money, and manpower. Use this insight to allocate resources effectively, ensuring efficient and well-supported project management.
  • Anticipate and Address Potential Impacts on Customers: Consider how changes, especially those stemming from a disruptive event, affect your customers. This approach allows you to take measures to maintain or improve customer satisfaction. This might involve adjusting your approach to ensure customer needs are met and their experience with your service or product remains positive, even in the face of unexpected challenges.

Types of business impact analysis

Business impact analysis comes in various forms, each tailored to understand the different dimensions of potential impacts within an organization. Here’s a look at some key types:

  • Traceability Impact Analysis: This approach traces connections across a project or system, showing how changes in one area can affect others for a comprehensive understanding. It’s beneficial for complex projects with interconnected elements.
  • Dependency Impact Analysis: Dependency impact analysis assesses how changes affect interconnected elements within a project or system, highlighting critical components at risk. It enables planning for cascading effects, ensuring awareness and preparedness for changes across dependencies.
  • Experimental Impact Analysis: This method experiments with or simulates changes in a controlled setting to observe potential impacts, predicting outcomes before real-world implementation. It offers insights into proposed modifications, especially for testing new ideas or complex system changes.

Types of impact assessment methods

Impact assessment methods vary in approach and focus, offering different lenses to evaluate the effects of changes within projects or organizations. Here’s a closer look at some common methods:

  • Organizational Approach: This method evaluates the impact of changes across the entire organization, considering factors such as culture, processes, and structure. It aims to understand how changes align with organizational goals and values, ensuring that they contribute positively to the overall direction and health of the company.
  • McKinsey 7Ss Approach: The McKinsey 7Ss approach breaks down the analysis into seven key components: strategy, structure, systems, shared values, skills, style, and staff. Examining the impact of changes on each of these areas provides a thorough understanding of how adjustments might affect the organization’s ability to achieve its objectives. This method is particularly useful for ensuring that all aspects of the organization are considered and aligned.
  • Tools-Based Approach: This method involves using specific tools and software to analyze the impact of changes. These tools can range from simple spreadsheets to sophisticated software applications designed to model and predict outcomes based on various scenarios. The tools-based approach is helpful for quantifying impacts and providing data-driven insights into the potential effects of changes.

How to conduct an impact analysis?

Conducting an impact analysis involves a systematic approach to evaluating the potential effects of changes, ensuring that decisions are informed and strategic.

Identify the scope of change

To kick off your impact analysis, start by pinpointing the exact nature of the change. Is it a tweak in your processes, an update to a product, the rollout of a new feature, or perhaps a significant shift within your organization? Once you’ve identified what’s changing, it’s crucial to outline the boundaries of this change. This means determining what will change and where and to whom these changes will apply.

Brainstorm potential impacts of change

Involve key stakeholders in a collaborative brainstorming session using tools like Miro. This facilitates the identification of various impacts the change might have, ensuring comprehensive and inclusive planning.

Brainstorming potential changes in Miro for impact analysis
Use Miro to brainstorm potential changes.

Gather information on affected business processes and resource

Conduct a thorough analysis of the business processes and resources that might be affected by the proposed change.

For instance, scheduling system maintenance requires an understanding of user activity patterns. With Userpilot’s trend reports, you can get a bird’s-eye view of user activity across different periods.

By selecting a time with the least user activity, the impact on workflows can be minimized, thus ensuring a smoother transition.

A screenshot of a report of user activity, an essential part of impact analysis
View user activity in Userpilot.

Develop recovery strategies to reduce negative impacts

Considering the inevitability of challenges, it is imperative to develop business recovery strategies.

Contingency plans, resource allocation, and communication strategies play a pivotal role in helping you mitigate any possible negative impact.

For instance, implementing system maintenance can be accompanied by in-app banners, effectively communicating changes to users and reducing potential disruptions.

A screenshot showing an in-app notification about planned updates
Create in-app notifications with Userpilot.

Implement the changes and recovery strategies

Once strategies are in place, the implementation phase begins.

For example, when you roll out the new UI for the product dashboard, you can accompany it with comprehensive guidance to ease user onboarding with the new interface.

These mitigation strategies minimize friction and enhance the user experience by providing clear instructions and support throughout the transition.

A screenshot of how you can use tooltips to highlight new changes to users
Implement tooltips in Userpilot.

Report and analyze the results

Monitor the impact of changes by tracking key metrics like product usage, support ticket volumes, and in-app feedback.

This analysis helps understand the effectiveness of the implemented changes and guides future improvements, ensuring continuous enhancement of user experience and operational efficiency.

A screenshot showing user activity after you've made major changers to see there affects
View user analytics with Userpilot.

Iterate results and make recommendations

Analyze collected data to pinpoint areas needing improvement or adjustment. Refine strategies based on these insights and make recommendations for enhancing the process’s impact. This iterative approach ensures continuous optimization and alignment with organizational goals.

Conclusion

You should never leave changes in your product, large or small, without considering the impact, especially if you’re updating your critical business processes. Your customer won’t appreciate trying to use your product, and your normal business operations aren’t running. Impact analysis is the key to preventing negative consequences on your business environment and keeping your customers happy.

Do you need help with performing impact analysis? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can easily view your user’s trends, display in-app banners, and monitor key metrics like product usage, support ticket volumes, and in-app feedback.

--

--

Userpilot Team

Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com