Forgotten Elements of Systems Engineering – Change Management

By Taylor Duffy

The final element in our three-part series of “Forgotten Elements of Systems Engineering” focuses on Change Management. Change Management is the practice of documenting changes in systems from the concept and reason for the change, all the way through to the deployment and results of the change. This important element is often forgotten or hastily done to save time. However, it is important to record these changes for the future. More issues could arise and these records can remind you what was done before so you can compare and make sure time is not wasted reverting back to an old process. There could also be a large turnover of your team, and these documents can greatly benefit the team by getting them up to speed and saving on time, money, and labor.

A Change Management Process starts with several vital steps.

  1. Define the reasons for the change. The answer may be clear to you, but it is important to explain the reason for the change so that all parties involved can understand. With a clear explanation, you will be more likely to gain support to make the change.
  2. Determine the scope of change. How will this change impact the current process? Explain the people, policies, structure, and other factors that will shift due to this change.
  3. Identify job roles. It is important to point out stakeholders and the team responsible for the change. Make sure to explain the job roles of the change so that the transition can be as smooth as possible.
  4. Pinpoint the benefits of change. The change should result in a positive outcome. Explain the benefits so everyone is on the same page.
  5. Outline goals and costs. Change does not happen overnight. It is important to set goals over time to make sure everyone is on schedule and can see the big picture, rather than getting confused and feeling defeated when progress isn’t happening immediately.
  6. Prioritize communication. Create a plan to communicate with all parties about the change, whether it be through emails, standing meetings, or more. Make sure everyone feels comfortable and has a space to talk about statuses, ideas, issues, and more.

       Made Using Innoslate’s Action Diagram

We realize these are a lot of steps to get started with a change management plan. It isn’t an easy task, and that is why there are tools to get started and keep track of all moving parts.

In a cloud-based environment, change management is simpler and more accurate. A few of the ways Innoslate makes change management easier is by having a record of all changes including the dates, user activity, change type, and change value. Versions can also be restored if you have proper permissions.

History

History Report

Innoslate can export a History Report for your project. This is a quick and easy way to look at all the changes that have been made to the selected entities and an informal way of performing Change Management.

Workflow

Innoslate’s workflow controls allow an entity’s status to be transitioned through a lifecycle. Workflow has the ability to control permissions of the transition, locking, and generating custom notifications. Innoslate includes a standard requirement and issues workflow with every project. These default workflows are based on CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) and are designed as a starting point. Workflows can also be changed to suit any project’s needs.

Branching and Forking

Projects can be branched, forked, and merged in Innoslate. Projects and their branches (parent and child) can be viewed in a tree chart. Branching and Forking abilities allow you to branch and fork projects as well as merge changes between linked projects. Branching duplicates a project and allows changes to be made separately so that the two projects contain different changes. When a project is branched it creates a parent-child relationship with the new project. Forking also duplicates a project. The main difference is that a sibling relationship is created with the new project. This creates a tree-like structure where both projects share the same parent project. Merging takes any additions, changes, deletions, and restores of a source project and integrates them into a target project. Through these processes, you can duplicate your project, edit the new project, and merge them, which will create a change report.

Baselining

Baselining a document creates a snapshot of your requirements at the moment in time when the baseline is created. All document entities, relationships, and attributes will be captured. This will help you see the difference from the beginning of your project to the end, where more requirements were added throughout the lifecycle.

GitHub Integration

The GitHub integration in Innoslate provides an interface to exchange information between various users in an Innoslate project. Three actions can be performed to conduct the exchange of information between the two tools. These actions are Issues, Commits, and Pull Requests.

  • Issues are used to track work in GitHub. They can help the user organize and prioritize work that needs to be done within the current project. Issues can be differentiated using labels, assignees, and milestone relationships. 
  • Commits are the history of a repository throughout development during the project. Commits tell a story through the progression of each repository in a project. Commits can be differentiated using assignees and timestamps. 
  • Once a repository has been branched or forked, Pull Requests can be used to update and track its development in a project. The Pull Request is the final touch to tracing any Commits to their related Issues. 

Project Management Dashboard

Innoslate’s Project Management dashboard offers a way for project managers and other users to view important upcoming dates and deadlines, Calendar events, track Kanban Board progress, and view hierarchical breakdowns of Kanban Boards. A Kanban Board is an agile method that tracks changes or tasking across the lifecycle. Innoslate virtually captures this so your team can collaborate and track the status from anywhere in the world.

Through all of Innoslate’s methods for capturing Change Management, your team will be able to track all changes across the lifecycle. Although it may seem like overkill in the present, this will keep everyone on the same page and save time, money, and labor in the long run. Change management is an element that many have forgotten about, but it is very important to maintain a successful system and team.