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Change Management

“Every project will change from its original intent. This procedure, therefore, provides a process based upon experience, which permits effective management of change. Change refers to any change or adjustment to approved deliverables or to the project charter (which may have been amended by previously approved change requests). Change is not merely alteration to scope, cost, or date. Modification to any portion of the project charter is considered change, thus assuring effective management of expectations.”

“A project change procedure controls, at the task level, work effort expansion resulting from technical process inclusions or omissions due to scope, specification, or design errors, team miscommunication, or technical iplemenation difficulty. This procedure can be used to record, manage, analyze, and control any event, action, or omission that will increase the estimated time to complete any project task. This includes adding new tasks to the project.”

Types of Change Requests

“Changes come in all shapes, sizes, and origins. This section groups change requiests into three general categories – scope change, variance change, and informational change – for organizational purposes only. There is no need to try to fit a change request into one of the categories.”

Scope Change

“Scope change means something previously approved is being altered. This most often happens when someone identifies a way to improve or change deliverables that deviates from the project charter. The change request, with its impact to date and cost, helps the project sponsor or executive sponsor determine if the change is worth implementing. There should be a scope change request for something that was never budgeted for nor a contingency made available. In short, these change requests are for those situations that are really outside the scope of the project charter.”

Variance Change

“A variance change may be required when actual activity differs from that which was planned. This is typically seen when the actual effort for a task differs from the estimated effort. The cumulative effect of many variances may require a change request to re-baseline the project. However, sometimes the net effect of positive and negative variances is approximately zero. Prudent judgment is required in this area to determine when a change request is required.”

“Another example of a variance is lost time. Lost time is not planned. It exists if and only if the team is idled and cannot work on any other tasks because of an external delay or any event that prohibits it from continuing to work on the project. Assigning the team members to other project tasks while the team waits for the delay to be resolved does not constitute lost time. Lost time can have a disastrous effect on project costs and deadlines because it is impossible to forecast and therefore requires constant control and analysis. Lost time task items should be placed in the project plan with a zero budget. This indicates that there is no expectation of lost time, but if it occurs, it will show as a negative variance in the plan.”

“Because variance changes are usually a combination of many small items, the project manager should record and track events that may later be traced to project delays and lost time. If incurred, lost time should be posted to the project plan and reported on the project status reports and at project status meetings.”

“In some cases, variance changes should also be processed on those rare and legendary occasions when the project manager recognies that the project will be significantly under budget because of productivity gains within the team.”

Informational Change

“Most people associate change with an impact to effort (hours), cost (budget), or schedule (date); however, change may not impact any of these components. Informational changes are just as important as other types of change because they reset or change expectations from those set through the project charter. An informational change request can occur for changes in organizational structure, roles and responsibilities, and process changes that were previously defined in the project charter. For example, if an organizational change causes additional layers of review and approval of deliverables, a change request would need to be created to define the new approval process.”

The Change Request Form and the Change Management Process

“In this section you see how the change request form is directly linked to the two phase change management process. The form’s primary function is to be the repository of all information related to a change request. The form also provides a snapshot of the change request’s progress in the change management process.”

“The following steps outline the key activities needed to perform a two phase change management process. The reason this change process is called a two phase process is that there are two points of approval or rejection that allow the process to continue or stop respectively.

  1. Anyone may submit a change request. The originator completes the information that describes the change and why it is needed and then submits the form to the project manager. The first section of the form captures the general information about the change request. This information should be used in the change log to document the progress of the change request in the change management process through disposition. The next 2 fields describe the change request and the business or technical reason for requesting the change. All of this information should be completed before the change request is submitted.
  2. An appropriate person estimates the effort needed to investigate the change request and documents the hours and cost of just the investigation of the change in the Estimate to Investigate section. The project plan should contain a change investigation task with the change budget hours as a baseline. If you exhaust the change investigation hours, you should submit a change request for more change investigation hours or else you would have to unilaterally refuse all further changes – a ludicrous tactic.
  3. The project manager and the project sponsor decide whether or not to approve the change investigation or reject the change at that point.
  4. If the change investigation is approved, a project team member should be assigned to investigate the change and complete the rest of the change request form with the results of the investigation. That person should document any effects on the logical scope, deliverables, project organization, schedule or cost (hours and dollars) that deviate from the current approved version of the project charter. Additionally, the investigator should document the effects on the project if the change request is rejected.
  5. The project manager and project sponsor (and executive sponsor if the change has a severe impact on the project) should review the change request and supporting documentation and decide whether to approve or reject the change. If the change is approved, the appropriate changes should be made to the project charter, project plan, and any other affected defining documents (such as the requirements document). The project plan should be re-baselined to incorporate the change. If the change is rejected, the reasons for rejection should be documented on the change request form.
  6. The change log should be updated and the change request should be filed in the project notebook. All opened and closed change requests should be documented on the weekly project status report and mentioned in the weekly project status meeting.”