PM Glossary #5 – What’s (in) a Change Request?

Ponder this through: Project Management and Change Control – are they blood relatives or bloody relatives!

A Project can also be termed a vehicle for Change (implementing), so why this much ado around Change Management and Change Control, when you are anyways doing it? Yeah – this is not as simple as it sounds, and drives almost everyone crazy if not managed right.

I had earlier discussed scope creep, its ill effects and causes (http://colossalthoughts.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/pm-glossary-3-scope-creep-and-you/), and here I am going to elaborate on why Change Control is an important facet.

A Project has a definite start and finish, and a baseline as a reference point. This reference point usually covers the 3 key aspects – scope (requirements), time and cost / budget.

During the course of the Project, if any of the factors change, then you are looking at what would be called a Change, and this IS going to impact the Project.

Change Control

As a Project Manager, we need to recognize that not all changes are “bad”, some are even “good” as well. More importantly, we should be able to recognize a “Change”.

Should we be worried about this? Yes, since lack of proper Change Management is one of the key factors that can lead to project issues and failure even.

If we do not recognize or manage a Change correctly or are sluggish / bone headed while we do this, then get ready to experience any / all of these:-

–         rework, leading to time and cost impact

–         deviating from stakeholder expectations / business needs

–         possible impact on Business and Operations, once the Project is delivered

–         finally, overall discontent and dissatisfaction, leading to project failure

So how do we handle a “Change” then? Not to worry, it gets pretty straight forward from here on, as long as you follow these simple rules:

–         Ensure you have a rock solid baseline (requirement specifications – complete in both usable / functional and operating / non-functional dimensions)

–         Ensure you have a defined process of recognizing, managing and implementing a “Change” (across Business, Technical and Operational aspects)

–         Ensure you have ownership and governance built around the above process along with relevant stakeholders

Change is a universal truth and there are bound to be multiple scenarios when Changes are going to hit you / the Project.

The only saving grace will be your acceptance of this fact, and openness in embracing Change when needed, all within a well defined Change Management framework 😉

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