Impact evaluation is a technique used to brainstorm by many successful individuals. It is a method that helps you to evaluate all of the negative impacts of any particular change that you may need to perform in your project. However, in spite of its effectiveness, it is rarely used by project managers, which is an enormous shame.
When you wish to analyse the impact of smaller decisions, it is fine to do this individually, as it may be troublesome to gather your entire team for smaller, insignificant matters. However, when it comes to major decisions that will affect the project in a number of ways, it is necessary to gather the whole team and discuss the negative impacts of the decision in detail.
So, how exactly does one perform impact evaluation correctly?
Well, it all begins with a good team. If you feel as if the members of your team are not capable of being innovative and hardworking, then maybe they are not suited to work on this project. It is important to be picky regarding who you put on the team because someone that is lazy or inexperienced could end up sabotaging the entire project and doing a lot of harm to your organisation. Choose members that have different talents and different kinds of experiences, but are not inexperienced at all. It may be tricky to find several team members that are different yet equally talented, but it is essential if you want impact evaluation (or the whole project, really) to be successful.
Secondly, you need to make sure that you have access to ample relevant information, and that the project’s plan is clearly defined. Every single team member needs to be well acquainted with the project plan before you move on to the impact evaluation.
Once this has been done, it is time to brainstorm the major areas that will be affected by a decision in the project, or by the project as a whole, and think about all of the people involved.
Consider all the different departments of your organisation, all kinds of business processes, different kinds of customer or client groups of your organisation, etc.
In addition to that, it is also a good idea to consider all of the aspects that are important to any organisation, for example:
Strategy, systems, structure, shared values, staff, skills, etc.
Now, for all of the different areas you have identified, you will need to think about the elements that could be affected. This will take a fair bit of time, but it is important for it to be thought about thoroughly.
After this, the next step is to work through the elements you have listed, thinking about all of the impacts that the decisions in your project will have on these elements. While it is important to list the positive impacts as well, you should focus more on identifying the negative impacts.
Of course, you can’t call it a day after doing this. What would be the use of simply identifying the impacts and not doing anything about them?
Instead, it is now time for you to manage the consequences or negative impacts that you have just identified.
This is where you put everything you have just thought about into action.
“What actions will I need to take to reduce this negative impact?”
“How will I prepare the people that will be affected so that they understand and know how to deal with the consequence?”
“How will I manage the other aspects of the project while dealing with these negative impacts at the same time?”
All of these questions need to be answered and then implemented so that you can actually gain the advantages that impact evaluation can provide.