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Business Analyst as change agent

Fri 4 May 2012
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Change management is about more than processes and computer systems – it’s about people. In most organisations business analysts act, directly or indirectly, as change agents and as such play a key role in ensuring the successful adoption of change.

It is vital therefore, in order to prepare for change, that business analysts understand the psychology of change and always remember:

•Resistance is the norm, not the exception. Expect some to never support the change.

•Visible and active sponsorship is not only desirable but necessary for success.

•The size of the change will determine how much and what kind of change is needed.

•Sometimes the right answer is not enough to implement the change successfully.

•Change is a process and each person moves through the process at a different rate.

Be prepared to answer some of these common questions:

•Why is the change happening now?

•What’s the risk of not changing?

•What are the benefits of supporting the change?

•If we wait long enough, will the change just go away?

•What if I disagree with the change?

Business analysts should be involved in all areas of change:

•When the change is first announced, prior to implementation.

•During the change process when the new solution is being designed, developed and delivered.

•After the implementation of the solution.

There are many models for managing changes; one I have found particularly effective is ADKAR.

A – Awareness of the need for change

Awareness of the business need for the change is a critical ingredient of any change and must come first.

D – Desire to participate and support the change and make it happen

Once there is awareness of the need for the change, individuals have a choice to support the change or not. To build desire to support focus on positive outcomes of the change, acknowledge that it will require some effort initially.

K – Knowledge on how to change

Spend some time to understand the change required.

•How will it work?

•What do I need to do?

•What training/support is required?

A – Ability to implement the required skills and behaviours

Change is a process. Developing the ability to change means adopting new habits and learning new skills. This takes time. Simply attending training workshops is not enough. As a change agent, you will need to provide on-going support mechanisms and coaching until the desired level of competency is achieved.

R – Reinforcement of the change

Reinforcing the change is just as important as implementing it. We have a natural tendency to revert to the old ways of doing things. Recognise and reward a successful change. Celebrating success can make change stick.

Encourage everyone to become a change agent and champion the change. No change comes without pain, but the goal is to minimise that pain and implement the change as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Jayesh Jain is an agilist and senior business analyst, as well as a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO). 

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