How to effectively manage change using the change control process

by Paul Kesler

Project change control process

Interested in learning about the change control process? At some point in your project lifecycle, you most undoubtedly will receive a request that modifies your original scope and/or business requirements. Having a process in place to handle these in an effective and timely manner ensures your project continues smoothly and avoids unforeseen delays. Additionally, an established process in place drives better decision-making, leading to higher customer satisfaction and enhanced stakeholder engagement.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”– Albert Einstein

Typically the process requires the project manager or business analysts to follow these steps:

  1. First, document the initial requirements of the Change Request (CR) and review it with the requestor to ensure accuracy and thoroughness.
  2. Review the initial requirements for the CR with the appropriate project sponsor or champion. This also gives them the appropriate “heads up” of the pending CRs.
  3. Review the initial requirements for the CR with your customer (if applicable).
  4. Work with the project team to obtain the overall impact and level of effort estimate. This would also include any additional costs in time or materials.
  5. Review the full CR with the appropriate project sponsor or champion.
  6. Review the full CR with your customer (if applicable).
  7. The project manager will then work the CR through the proper governance processes/approvals within the organization.
  8. The project manager communicates outcomes to the project team, stakeholders, and the interested parties.
  9. The project manager updates project documents and other artifacts reflecting outcomes, paying close attention to not forgetting communication and training plans.

Project change control form

For your Change Request (CR) it helps if you gather consistent information during the process. I have found the best way to ensure consistency is to create a simple form containing the following elements. Even though some may not be happy with your documentation requests, in the end, the following information will be needed to fully understand and enable executives to make an informed change request decision.

The required elements include the:

  1. Requestor name
  2. Project or initiative
  3. Date requested and date required
  4. General description of the requested change(s): This needs to contain enough detail so that it contains both the current and future state in order for project sponsors and the people identifying the overall impact and level of effort can fully understand what is being requested. It is always a good idea to have your customer review this key piece of information for accuracy.
  5. Business justification/ROI: It is best to tie this to a customer request or financial target if used in your business.
  6. Schedule: How the change impacts the initial schedule.
  7. Scope: How the change modifies the current project scope.
  8. Quality: Will the change improve overall quality or perhaps decrease it based on the change request?
  9. Resources: Use your project team to assess the additional resources required and the anticipated timeframes.
  10. Cost: If initially unknown how about a range estimate to drive decision making.
  11. Risk-high, medium, or low risk: Plus any mitigation strategies usually come within this category.
  12. Systems impacted: In today’s world this can be one of the hardest to determine because of our reliance on technology.
  13. Departments impacted: All the usual suspects, finance, accounting, IT, legal, operations, marketing R&D, sales, etc.

Final thoughts…..

By incorporating the above framework into your next project, I believe you will realize you will receive quicker decision making from your key stakeholders and greater satisfaction within your project team by avoiding delays if you take the time to plan, communicate and include the full power of a change control process into your project management toolbox.


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