Impact Analysis

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Engineering Areas
Assessment & evaluation
Group or individual
Group, Individual
Amount of people
Up to 15
Type of activity
Collaborative team setting, Self-work by students
Duration
More than 2 hours
Type of class
Practice-based

Description

What is this technique about

Impact analysis is used to identify the potential consequences resulting from a change made to a system. According to Arnold and Bohner (authors who first suggested this technique),  there are three main types of impact analysis:

    1. Traceability Impact Analysis: captures the links between requirements, specifications, design elements, and tests, analysing their relationships to determine the scope of an initiating change.
    2. Dependency Impact Analysis: to determine the depth of the impact on the system.
    3. Experiential Impact Analysis: using tacit knowledge and previous experience of an organisation to determine the potential consequences of a change in future.

Where does it come from?

Impact analysis, also known as change impact analysis, was first described in 1996 by American software engineers Robert S. Arnold and Shawn A. Bohner in their book called Software Maintenance. In the book, Arnold and Bohner stated that impact analysis is about “identifying the potential consequences of a change or estimating what needs to be modified to accomplish a change.”

For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)

Impact analysis is a powerful method to create an understanding among the students of the importance of planning and assessing a change before the change is implemented. It promotes strategic thinking, improves collaboration skills and enhances creativity within solutions. Knowledge of this technique can equip the student with long-term skills, which can positively affect the student in any career path they choose.

How to use it

An impact analysis involves 2 steps. First, we have to find out the relationships related to the subject element, and then we review them to uncover any possible consequences and risks associated with the change. The method of conducting impact analysis changes from organisation to organisation, depending upon the department, the type of change or feature and the type of impact being analysed. However, the impact analysis can be conducted in three generic steps:

    1. Preparation: Once the team is decided, the impact analysis’s objectives, goals and scope may be clearly defined. The proposed change should be clearly stated without ambiguity.
    2. Collect information: Brainstorm on the high-level areas impacted by the proposed change (e.g. Customer groups, department strategy, business processes etc.). List all the departments that will be affected by the change. Based on the outcome of the brainstorming, create a questionnaire to collect data from the corresponding departments. If the data is accessible through secondary sources (such as a pre-provided dataset, journals etc.), then the primary data collection may be avoided.
    3. Based on the collected data, analyse the impact. This can be done categorically (indicating benefits and drawbacks) or quantitatively where an impact score is given (higher the score, higher the impact, and a positive score indicates benefits and a negative score indicates drawbacks).

How to implement this techniques online

Impact analysis task can be assigned as either a group or an individual assignment. If the task is individually assigned, online tools are not mandatory, as the individual can carry out the task with available tools such as word processing and spreadsheet applications.

Preparation, what do before the session
    1. Prepare a time schedule and clarify for yourself the purpose of using the method. You will then be better able to explain the activity to the students.
    2. Create a scenario and the proposed change to be shared with the students. Ensure all data required for the students to complete the task successfully are given.
    3. Communicate the required outcome of the task to the students (such as the requirement of quantitative or categorical output, as explained earlier).
    4. Create a template for the students/student groups to calculate or illustrate the impact. This ensures consistency in the output report, facilitating a fair evaluation process.
    5. Upload all documents to a shared folder so that all students can access them.
    6. Inform the participants that they need to access the documents on the day of the session (if they have never used the platform before, ask them to test whether they can access it.)
    7. Students can do this task individually or in groups. If you want to allocate them to groups, prepare a document that assigns them to groups and upload this document also.
    8. If the task is designed to be a group assignment, create a workspace using a whiteboard application and allocate participants to the workspace.

During application, i.e., while giving the session

    1. Introduce the session by giving the participants basic information about the exercise (e.g., timeline, guidelines, templates)
    2. Explain the scenario, task and expected learning outcome to the students.
    3. Ask the students to follow the 3 step process as explained earlier to create the impact analysis.
    4. If there is a specific method designed to calculate the impact score or a template that is used for the illustration and calculation of the impact, explain the template in detail.
    5. Communicate the deadlines, submission timeline, and platform where the assignment must be submitted.

Follow-up, about what to do after the session

    1. Make sure that all necessary documents are uploaded and shared on a shared platform.
    2. Ensure that all the group members are within the allocated whiteboard workspaces.
    3. Once the work is submitted, ensure that feedback on all three process steps followed is given. This enhances the working knowledge of the students in future.

Examples and/or testimonials

Business Impact Analysis Example Template (Word-Dokument). National Institute of Standards and Technology. Available at: https://csrc.nist.gov/CSRC/media/Publications/sp/800-34/rev-1/final/documents/sp800-34-rev1_bia_template.docx

Tools needed

For applying the technique in an online setting, the following tools are required:

    • A whiteboard allows for organising the data while allowing the members to work online on the same document collaboratively. Example of tools:
      • Mural
      • Miro
      • Concept Board

Resources

Links

InterAction. (2012, March 14). Introduction to Impact Evaluation. [Video]. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N764LUjj6Mw

IT Governance Ltd. (2018, May 10). Webinar: Business Continuity Management: Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment. [Video]. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awLn7yZDKXs

Hearn, S., Taylor, J. S. (2014). Overview: Data Collection and Analysis Methods in Impact Evaluation. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.betterevaluation.org/sites/default/files/Data_collection_and_Analysis_ENG.pdf