Managing Changes On The Project

Perform Integrated Change ControlRecall the discussion about change request from this post , the salient points of which are –

  • A change request may be raised by any stakeholder of the project
  • It must be documented and added into change management / configuration management system
  • Only approved change requests are taken up for implementation
  • A change request may be due to preventive action, corrective action, defect repair or scope change requested by the customer
  • Changes requested by customer may  affect project constraints resulting in changes to baselines
First thing to understand is that the entire change control process is the responsibility of the Project Manager.

Although any stakeholder can raise a change request, even verbally, project manager must document it first. She should estimate its impact on project cost, schedule and any other constraints and then document it as well. This information is used during change control meetings.

Change Control Board (CCB) is formed to address change requests. The structure of the board, role and responsibilities are determined during planning stage, and is accepted by all stakeholders. CCB consists of different stakeholders from the team as well as outside the team, including customer.

The aim of having this board is to ensure that all involved parties understand each suggested change and assess impact well, before taking a decision to either accept or reject or even delay the suggested change. Now it is not a mandatory requirement to form a Change control board, or CCB. In some projects, the power to accept or reject a change request is given to the project manager, sponsor and/or customer. The decision to form a CCB is a result or organizational practices, nature of projects and in certain cases insistence of the customer.

Since a change request may result changes to cost, schedule and scope baseline, there may be impact on risks or even delivery dates. Hence, it is prudent to have a committee of stakeholders to formally go over change requests and make an informed decision of accepting, rejecting or delaying change request implementation. Project manager must convey the decisions to stakeholders using predefined communication channels.

The project management activity that manages changes in a project essentially involves reviewing all change requests, approving changes and managing changes to the deliverable, organizational process assets, project documents and the project management plan. This project management activity is conducted throughout the life of the project.

As a project manager, you need to ensure that you have assessed impact of each change request and prioritized them for the CCB to look at. You need to also follow up with the CCB members regularly so that they show up for change control meetings.

Meetings are held among CCB members to discuss change requests and arrive at decision of approving them or not, using change control tools that help in storing and accessing information about impact and then communicating decisions to other stakeholders.

Not all change requests submitted to change control board are approved. If the impact on project objectives is unacceptable then the CCB can reject the change request.

Change log is a list of all changes occurring during the project. This is where project manager updates the impact of each change request on project constraints and possibly on project objectives. This is circulated to stakeholders for their decision, action and information.

Approved change requests may result in changes to schedule, costing plan, quality processes, and sequence of planned activities. They may increase or decrease risks, and change already planned risk-responses. Hence, as an output of this project management activity the project subsidiary plans as well as schedule, cost and scope baselines may be updated.

Moreover, project documents such as risk register, stakeholder list, issues log, activity list and milestone list may also be updated.

The figure below shows how change requests are initiated and implemented.

Change Request Cycle
Figure 1: shows how change request are initiated, approved and implemented

Exam pointer: Every change request that has an impact on constraints needs to be run by the Change Control Board (CCB). It will analyze the impact and decide whether to approve or reject the change request. In case a change request does not have any impact on any of the constraints such as cost, schedule, quality, resources, etc. then project manager can take a call to implement it without taking it through CCB.

Change Control Tools

It is a common practice to use some sort of tool to enable the crucial aspect of project – change management. Configuration management is also part of the change management.

Configuration management deals with identification of project artifacts that need to be placed under configuration control, so that changes to them are managed in a systematic way as defined in the change management plan.

These tools could be home-grown intranet based systems or commercially available tools.

In essence a tool should help with the following –

  • Identify and select a configurable item in the project
  • Allow managing state changes to these configurable items
  • Allow verification and audit of these configurable items
  • Allow identification, documentation, and tracking of changes to configurable items

In Summary,

Managing changes in a project is crucial in order to deal with any deviation from the plan during project execution. This is a course-correction exercise on the project, and is effective only when change control meetings are held regularly, change requests are handled as per defined steps in the change management plan and configuration management plan. It is also important for the project manager to update subsidiary plans and baselines as soon as changes are approved.

With this now, let us see the last piece of content we need to learn in Integration management – closing a project or phase.

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