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Changing Requirements

The following is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.

"There are many reasons for project requirements to change, despite everyone's best efforts. New ideas are brought forward; something was not considered in the original plan; business users/stakeholders simply change their minds. Indeed the technology often fosters additional change. The key is to differentiate whether the requirements are changing, being augmented, being added to, or being replaced, or even whether they are stable and mature. If somebody is repeatedly changing his mind, does he really know what he wants? This symptom can be a sign that something deeper is wrong with the project as it is set up. Maybe the expectations are not clear or the true decision makers have not been involved. Maybe the true stakeholders have not been identified or consulted properly."

"Changing requirements are a fact of life on every project in any industry. They result from a desire to keep the client and users satisfied. However, a properly planned project is built around an initial project charter that contains a timeline based on specific business requirements. The math is very straightforward. Changing a requirement impacts the timeframes and costs, so the plan needs to be updated and some initial deadlines may slip."

"Start the project by clearly identifying how a change process is going to work and when it will be invoked. Create an expectation that future requirements may lead to additional releases in the project. Always talk about the cost, benefit, and impact to the project whenever the requirements begin to change. Let the users or stakeholders make the decision based on these facts."

The Integrated Change Control processes described in the Scope section of the PMBOK®, and of AceIt®, will give you guidance in how to control changes to the requirements on your project.