Considering the effort that it takes to gather requirements, assemble a team, secure approvals, and create a working schedule, sudden and unexpected "changes to plan" are not always wise - and certainly not always welcome. There are times when change is a mistake, and times when change is essential. No matter which side any given change may be on, change is a reality that must be faced and controlled. Read on to learn how it's done.
Change is a fact of life for most every project. To begin with, projects occur over a span of time, and with the passage of time, underlying circumstances and conditions can and do change. In addition, projects are completed by people, and people have new ideas, recognize mistakes and change their minds. Under these circumstances, it would be unwise, if not impossible, to proceed without recognizing, accepting and preparing for the possibility of change. That's the purpose and goal of standardized "change management".
Project change management is defined by the body of concepts, steps and strategies used to manage, control and implement "change" within a project. Change management applies to all elements of the project and project management process, covering the project vision, scope and related procedural components. Change management procedures are sized and applied to a given project as part of the project governance phase and are executed as part of project oversight. The key to effective project change management is not to prevent change, but to control it. This is the whole point - to identify, evaluate and adopt changes so that project results are enhanced. To that end, project should be managed with a structured process designed to accept positive change and avoid negative change. (Download our free Change Request Template)
In order to properly "control" changes for any given project, appropriate boundaries must be set that will both establish and limit the types of changes to be considered. Obviously, if a change is required to keep a project going, that change must be accepted. But if change is discretionary, that change must be weighed against existing project conditions and established boundaries. Taking a standardized approach, it takes just five (5) analytical variables to set realistic, flexible boundaries for managing project change:
Once change requests are processed, reviewed and approved, the corresponding changes must be incorporated into existing project plan, vision and scope. Depending on the specific type of change, one or more elements of the project may be affected, and this may necessitate changes to project plans, technical designs, resource assignments, budgets or other project documentation. No matter how many areas of the project are affected, changes should be properly recorded to ensure that original documents and plans are maintained as a baseline, with changes clearly identified. Most automated project planning tools will track changes to plan, and will produce reports of all variations. However, as time passes, and with multiple projects underway, these reports may not provide sufficient "lessons learned" information as to the "whys and wherefores" of change approval, and the related change results. That's the point of the "Change Impact Statement".
The "Change Impact Statement (CIS)" is a project oversight and review deliverable used to record change reasoning, execution and consequences. To serve it's intended purpose, the "statement" deliverable should accomplish all of the following:
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