Business spending on enterprise software has been on a constant rise over the past decade with 64% of businesses spending more on IT operations in 2018. It is estimated that in 2019, the number will reach $462 billion worldwide. This not only includes the procurement or development of new software and digital innovations, but also investments in modifications and upgrades.

However, implementing software changes is no easy feat. It involves serious financial investments and staffing resources, which is why it is critical to get it right. A well-implemented change assessment is a key component of every software change project. This gives decision-makers an accurate and complete understanding of the impact of the software changes and identifies potential disruptions to specific departments, functions and processes.

There are many ways to approach and implement software change assessment. These best practices can ensure a glitch-free software change rollout.

Use a Comprehensive Discovery and Dependency Mapping Technology

One of the disadvantages of the modern workplace across all industries is the emergence of information silos. They can hamper growth and efficiency and cause other problems, including redundancy of effort, stalled collaboration and other missed opportunities.

In order to break these silos, efficient application discovery and dependency mapping is a crucial step in every software change project. Unfortunately, most businesses are failing miserably in this department. A Forrester survey revealed 56% of IT managers “do not have a complete view of dependencies between applications or between applications and infrastructure.”

The same survey revealed 30% of the IT managers think that having a complete inventory of all enterprise hardware and software in use at their organizations is critical for IT efficiency. Ironically, 42% do not collect the necessary software data, while 39% are maintaining their inventory manually.

The disadvantages of inadequate discovery and inefficient dependency mapping include low productivity, project delays, increased overhead costs and poor team morale, among others. A key step in solving this predicament is investing in the right discovery and dependency mapping technology, which can support a solid foundation for a software change initiative or any IT project for that matter.

A reliable, agile software solution should provide both macro and micro views. The more granular, the better. Additionally, it should be able to give IT decision-makers a consolidated view of their application stack across multiple message queues, APIs, databases, unifying codes and languages.

Use the Seven R’s of Change Management

One thing IT managers should realize when assessing software change is, they’re not pioneering the process. Many organizations have done it and made mistakes along the way. Experts have used these mistakes and learnings to create roadmaps for others.

One of the most well-established resources for IT change management is the Seven R’s of Change Management conceptualized by Information Technology Infrastructure Library–a set of detailed practices for IT service management. The seven Rs represent the following questions designed to help businesses make educated decisions on how to proceed with change requests.

  1. Who raised the change?
  2. What is the reason for the change?
  3. What return will the change deliver?
  4. What risks are there if we do or do not carry out the change?
  5. What resources will be required to perform this change?
  6. Who is responsible for this change being performed?
  7. What relationships are there between this and other changes?

While these concepts are not exclusive to software change assessment, they provide a solid framework for businesses to identify noteworthy software change projects. This is especially helpful for organizations creating their software change assessment protocols from scratch.

Never Skip Impact Analysis

This is especially important for software vendors who are operating on tight budgets and strict deadlines. Software change impact analysis encompasses five major areas:

  • Identifying the impact of the change request on the software development project or on a business’ IT infrastructure.
  • Determining all software resources that need to be modified to implement the requested change.
  • Calculating the cost and manpower capital needed to perform the change request.
  • Ensuring the requested change complies with internal and external regulations.
  • Eliminating or minimizing any security risks associated with the change.

To make sure businesses covers all the bases for any software change initiative, it’s best to use a checklist or template sourced either from the technology vendor or one their IT team put together, tailored to their needs.

Not All Changes Are Created Equal

Today’s ever-changing business landscape dictates business technology must evolve to keep up with an organization’s shifting needs. Software changes, when implemented strategically, can help businesses achieve new heights in productivity, efficiency and profitability.

To ensure software changes serve this purpose, IT project managers need to implement an airtight software change assessment system. With the help of technology, checklists and well-established industry best practices, organizations can quickly outline a process that yields beneficial results in the end.

— Aditya Sharma