I’ve discussed project change management in general in previous articles and change requests specifically. But there are still many different ways that are similar, yet different, to handle change management on an engagement. When I come across other descriptions of how to handle this critical project process, I like to share them here with our readers.
This one comes from a book by Martin and Tate entitled, “Getting Started in Project Management”. I’ve included some information and graphics as well.
There are two basic ways to convey the change-management process: through a flowchart and/or through a written description of the steps.
The steps in a generic change management process are shown in the figure below:
These three steps are primarily managed using a change-request form, which has three parts: the request for a change that includes an explanation of why the change is needed (the justification section), an analysis of the impact of the change on the project (impact analysis section), and a section for approvals (approval section) (see the figure below).
The justification section is completed by the person requesting the change - this could be the customer, the sponsor, the project team, or another stakeholder.
Or, if the request is sent to the team via e-mail or a phone call, the justification section is completed by the project leader and then signed by the person requesting the change.
The project team completes the impact analysis section. The approval section is completed by those people who need to approve a change to the plan.
Step 1: Request
Action: Someone inside or outside the project team requests a change. The justification section of a change-request form is completed. The project team determines if the change makes sense. If the change requested does make sense, they proceed to step two. If the change requested does not make sense, then the issue with the change is recorded on the issues list and discussed with the sponsor and the person requesting the change.
When you or someone else wants to make a change to the project plan, the first thing that needs to be done is to complete the top section of the change-request form. The justification section of the form addresses the following questions:
- What does the requestor want to be changed?
- Why does the requestor want it changed (what is the problem the requestor is trying to solve)?
- How does the requestor suggest you incorporate the change into the plan?
- How urgent is this request?
Step 2: Impact
Action: The team analyzes the change request and assesses the impact on the project. The impact analysis is reviewed with the originator, customer, and sponsor.
Next, assuming that the change is a good idea, the project team will need to analyze the change request and develop a proposed plan for handling the change. This involves having the team go back through the steps of planning to assess the impact of the change to the project plan. In this planning session, the team will have to evaluate the effect the change will have on scope, risk, and resources.
For example, a change request to move the implementation of the new accounting system one month ahead can affect many areas: resource allocation and usage, budget, development, additional meetings, accelerated testing, additional tech support to handle the aggressive schedule, etc. We will have to consider the new risks that would be incurred and changes in the risk assessment as well. The impact information is then captured on the impact section of the change form.
Step 3: Approval/Denial
Action: The sponsor and customer either do or do not approve the change request. If the change request is not approved, the originator is noti?ed of the denial. If the change request is approved, the originator and the team are noti?ed and the project plan is amended.
Now, I’d like to look in more detail at each step and some of the questions that we ask ourselves, our team, and our customer as we’re documenting the change and making change request decisions on our projects.
Again, the generic change management process can be broken down into three key processes or steps: the request, the impact analysis, and the approval process. Let’s look at each of this further. The change request form I’m describing is the image above.
Finally, after the impact to the project is analyzed, the request must be approved if the project plan is to be amended. The people who need to approve the change vary from one company to the next, but typically the originator of the request, the project leader, sponsor, and the customer must approve a change. If you require other approvals, make sure you include them on the form. A change-request form, including instructions for completing it, should be included in the project plan.