The PMI refers to the group of project stakeholders
responsible for deciding on proposed project changes, the Change Control Board
(or CCB) in the latest version of the PMBOK. Regardless of what you call these
folks, it is critical to the success of your project that you identify the
right people to make these decisions and that they acknowledge this
responsibility and make the decisions on the appropriate changes.
The first step is to identify the right decision makers.
This may be trickier than you think, depending on your project, so we’ll go
through the list for you. The key decision maker is the person who made the
decision to launch the project in the first place. This is the person who has
the signing authority for the project budget and who will own the products of
the project. This person is frequently called the project’s business sponsor,
or executive sponsor. This person will be responsible for any additional
budget, schedule delays, or alterations in the project’s products and must
approve changes in any of these areas.
The 2nd member of the board should be the IT
sponsor. This is the IT person who is committing IT resources to the project
and who will have to identify any additional resources should a change in the
project plans call for them. The executive sponsor and IT sponsor should work
together and agree on any decisions on project budget, schedule, or scope. You
should be another member of the board. Your input regarding the impact on the
project of the proposed changes is important. Your role is to provide the other
members of the board with the information they need to make informed decisions
and present the business case accompanying the change request. Your role actually includes much more responsibility in the area of managing change, including deciding on minor changes, defining the process, managing the process, etc., but I'm limiting this discussion to managing the CCB. Studying to pass your PMP certification exam, if you haven't already done so, will provide you with the basics of change management which this article is meant to build on. There are any number of excellent PMP courses and PMP exam preparation training products available to prepare you for the exam, including one on this site.
A 3rd category of decision maker is project
stakeholders who are affected by the project’s products. These may be the
owners of business units who will use the new system the project will produce,
or are responsible for a software system the new system must interface with.
These people must make changes in their business processes or software systems
to accommodate changes to the scope or schedule of your project, although they
are typically unconcerned about any changes to the budget. Be selective when
engaging these people for your CCB. If all the other stakeholders on the
project are represented by the business sponsor or the IT sponsor there is no
need for anyone else in their groups to sit on the CCB. If not, only choose one representative from each group. You may choose to
include Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from the project team based on their
knowledge of the technology the project uses. Their inclusion on the board
should be at your discretion. Try to keep the Board as small as possible, the
larger the CCB the more difficulty it is likely to have reaching decisions.
Steering committees have become a popular means of providing
executive oversight to software projects. These steering committees are
typically assembled before the project manager is assigned to the project; they
may even have recruited you to manage it. The steering committee should form
the CCB, when a steering committee is overseeing your work. Only one person
need be added to the steering committee and that’s you.
Engaging the CCB and ensuring they stay engaged for the
duration of the project is as important as choosing the right members. Choosing
the right change management process and then communicating that process to the
board is the best way to promote their engagement. The right process in this
case should be one that is agile and does not waste the CCB’s time making
decisions on trivial changes. The CCB should only be engaged when a change that
impacts the budget, schedule, or project scope. Altering the schedule means any
alteration in the project end date, or the delivery date for any key project
products. Changing the scope means any significant change to the feature set or
functionality of the system. Distinguishing between changes to the system
feature set that should be decided on by the CCB and those that should be
decided on by you and your team may take some practice on your part. Fortunately,
you don’t have to become proficient at making this distinction in order to
engage your CCB. Show them a process that supports making that distinction so
they can be assured that their time won’t be wasted.
The business sponsor is the key person on the CCB. Focus
attention on them and ensure they are supportive of your change management
process. Once you’ve gotten that person on board with your process, you
shouldn’t have any difficulty selling your process to the others on the CCB.
Your IT sponsor should be familiar with your process and support it. You should
be able to call on the IT sponsor to help sell the process to the executive
Don’t expect the CCB to be at your beck and call to decide
on project change requests. Schedule periodic meetings for this purpose and
communicate the change requests to be decided on at least a day in advance of
the meeting. There may be a need to organize an impromptu meeting to decide on
a key change request that is time sensitive. Give the board as much advance
notice as possible and don’t make this a frequent practice. You can facilitate
emergency decision making by identifying proxies for each of the board. Proxies
should be empowered to render their decision and not simply occupy their boss’s
Your CCB is composed of influential people and they are
liable to be "road warriors” so try to make it easy for them to attend CCB
meetings. Reserving the time in their calendars at the outset of the project is
one way to make this chore easier on them. Having the half hour or so of decision
making time booked in their calendar months in advance will make it easy for
them to reserve time for this activity when they are in the office and to
notify their proxy when they can’t make the meeting. Make it possible for board
members to attend remotely by providing technology such as audio or video
conference bridges. Provide as much information on the requested changes as
possible in advance of these meetings. Be prepared to answer questions about
the changes at the meeting itself. Bring in an SME when you don’t have a full
grasp of the technical details yourself.
Inform the business sponsor of the negative impact of not
having a CCB quorum. Changes are frequently time sensitive in that they will
only yield the anticipated benefit it they are implemented on time. Failure to
implement on time may mean that the benefits expected from the change cannot be
realized. Alert your sponsor to problems you are having getting board members
to attend and ask for their help with attendance, if you find yourself in the
situation where you can’t proceed because of absentees.
The final step to keep your CCB engaged is to communicate
the results of their decisions to them after they have been rendered. This is
critical when a requested change was approved. Communicate when the change was
implemented, or is to be implemented and the impact of the change (if known).
Your CCB may also be interested in how many changes have been decided on, how
many have been approved and how much money or time has been consumed by the
changes which were approved.