What Is Change Management in Software Development

by Anna Khrupa on May 25, 2022

Change management is a systematic approach to identifying and managing changes to objectives and artifacts caused either by shifting market requirements or poor understanding of what a client expects. It is represented by techniques and manners for a company to track and manage a change during the development process. Whenever there is a change to requirements, technologies, or code in the software, the management process begins. 

It’s definitely one of the ways to mitigate risks and provide transparency to a project. It is never a spontaneous, self-organized activity. The process is set up in a development strategy, ensuring the project can handle change. A management plan is about how the changes are going to be regulated. Why? When? How? By whom? It is a critical step for the entire development process because of a simple requirement change influencing testing, verification, and previously established schedules.

What are the changes, and what does change management mean in simple terms?

Changes may be introduced for different reasons in every organization, no matter how big or small it is. For example, it can be a new idea accepted in a business environment, a new vision of a product, introduced by a client, a poor analysis of a process, an improvement in design, miscommunication in requirements, or not meeting clients’ expectations by understanding the needs improperly. Management is a structured process with a set of specific principles and steps.

Let’s have a look at what are the principles of change management as a structured process.

What Are the Principles of Change Management in Software?

The approach is based on four core principles:

  1. Understanding and identifying;
  2. Planning and testing;
  3. Implementing;
  4. Reviewing.

Here are the key points to remember. 

To get the benefits of a change, you have to understand it first. A team should understand the reasons for introducing it, the way the company will benefit from it, and the techniques that have to be applied to implement it correctly. What is the negative effect of not introducing a change? What is the company going to lose? Is the new approach going to be better than the old one? Is it worth it? Before doing a deep analysis of a change, the team has to ensure it is worth the time and effort. Comprehensive management is when a change is brought on time for a team to adjust to it properly.

Change management is not a spontaneous process. In software development, anything should be planned to get the most out of it. Planning a change is different for any organization. Some companies are more flexible about the procedure of implementing changes, while others are more precise and definite. A team should consider sponsorship, resources, involvement (design and execution of a change), and impact.

To put a change into practice a company should have a clear vision of how it is going to be introduced. Are there any new deadlines? What are the challenges the organization may face? How has the change affected development? An impact analysis report should be prepared.

But why is change management important for resources and time? Take a look next.

Why Change Management Is Important

Establishing a change management process is as crucial as performing the changes alone. Why?

  • To improve performance;
  • To increase engagement;
  • To enhance innovation;
  • To adopt changes successfully;
  • To reduce costs and time required for implementation.

Let’s have a look at what is a change management process in practice.

Software Change Management Process

Change management is always a challenge. An efficiently coordinated software management process assists in overcoming change-related issues easily. A change is an opportunity to promote products and optimize processes as well as improve quality and user experiences for end-users. Thus, managing the process of change implementation makes a difference in the full cycle of product development in the IT environment.

How to Implement Change Management in Software Project

A company should keep track of changes, analyze the cost and outcome, and decide on the appropriate time to implement. But what is the key concept in change management in software projects? It is always a set of logical steps and interconnected activities – a request, valid/invalid change identification, implementation, and closure. The strategy should be planned at the very beginning of a new project. There is a set of specific steps to perform depending on whether standard (low-risk), normal (intermediary-risk), or urgent (high-risk) changes happen.

Here is a rough guide on how to implement change management in a software project.

  • Create a request. How necessary is a change? What are the purpose and reasons for it? What is going to be affected by it? Is any supporting documentation required? What is the feasibility of introducing the change? How urgent is it? Can it wait until the next Sprint to be incorporated later? Or should the team end the current Sprint?
  • Create a plan. What is the route of introducing the change? What is the timeline? How big is the budget? What are the testing requirements?
  • Approve a change. What are the possible risks of both implementing and not implementing the change? The plan is thoroughly reviewed and analyzed. It is either approved or rejected. At this stage, more information can be requested.
  • Start change implementation. The team implements the change, monitoring and documenting the process. Are there any issues or risks? How can they be managed and dealt with?
  • Close a change. What is the result of its implementation? The team closes the change after reviewing it once again.

The main reason to conduct a change management process is to control approved changes, which may occur at any phase of software development. Comprehensive management ensures the project remains on schedule, without failing and going beyond the agreed budget. Due to the constant improvements in code and requirements, which can lead to further revisions of software, change management has become an essential part of the development process.



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