Not all projects are designed to be equal. Some changes happen whether you like it or not. Your team members get sick, or some unexpected delays occur. But whatever changes you are facing now must be analyzed and managed, and then accepted or rejected.
If management accepts the change, it needs to be responded to, opening a whole new set of procedures and ensuring you stay on track and within budget scope. But, how do you manage these setbacks? The following post will discuss this term and how it affects project management.
What is change control in project management?
This term relies on a methodology used to manage any change results that affect the baseline of your project. It's a helpful way to capture changes from the point where they have been identified through all the stages of the project cycle.
This can include various aspects, like rejecting, approving, or differing. The primary goal of change control is to ensure that you aren't changing elements in the project that could remain the same. You don't want to disrupt the project or waste resources or valuable time.
If any changes are approved, they should be documented. Remember that change control is part of a larger change management plan.
Why is change control important in project management?
Change control in project management ensures your project stays on track no matter what happens and without leaving anyone out of the loop.
This process assists in taking, monitoring, and resolving change requests. You will often hear the term "action flow chart," which is a process that takes a predetermined amount of time and sets up detailed procedures when dealing with significant structural changes.
The next important aspect is security. Allowing your IT staff to make necessary changes can lead to unintentional system exposure. Your data can become vulnerable, which would otherwise be impossible.
Lastly, supporting a documented system is much easier than dealing with an unknown quantity. If you know the changes, you can make a better guess and direct your efforts to solve the issue.
The primary purpose of change control
The primary purpose of change control is to monitor the lifecycle of all changes, ensuring minimal project disruption. It should also implement new business strategies, products, and processes while decreasing negative outcomes.
Several tools can be used for this purpose, and they could be either manual or automated. These tools support project stakeholders, change requests, and decisions.
The process for change control
When it comes to the change control process, there are several steps involved or five stages, which ensure your organization reaps the benefits and avoids pitfalls along the way.
Propose change. Identifying the change is one of the first steps. In your project team, anyone can spot the change, a stakeholder or even a customer. Establish a communication channel for these types of suggestions. When it comes to a change proposal, it needs to describe the change and how it would benefit the organization or the project. If there are other reasons for the change, they would be outlined and then recorded in the change log.
Impact summary. Once someone proposes a change, the project manager must consider the project's larger context. For instance, how it will impact the costs, whether you will be able to save or be required to spend more money, and the benefits of those costs. Will you experience any regulatory restrictions? Will it impact your schedule? How about other projects and business overall? Are those new changes linked to risks? One project manager goes through all these; they will recommend which changes must be approved and which are denied.
Making a decision. While project managers can make certain decisions, they don't always have the authority to have the final say on a change. Whoever that person or people may be, the project manager will present findings to them, and then the person authorized will either accept or decline the change.
Make the change. If the change has been rejected, it implies a status quo regarding managing the project. On the other hand, a change that has been accepted goes into the planning stage. You will be required to develop an action plan, including start and end dates, that stakeholders have to approve. This plan needs to include a regression test in case the change proves too problematic to follow through in the end. After the change plan has been finalized, a post-mortem meeting is scheduled to review the drawbacks and successes.
Closure. The closure is the final step in this process. It involves the person who first identified the change to monitor the final deliverable and ensure everyone agrees with it.
What's the difference between change control and change management?
Change control is a process that helps teams and project managers avoid the disruption resulting from a particular project change. On the other hand, change management involves a period of transformation within an organization.
If a change has been approved, then it needs to be managed. The project manager's role is to monitor the changes and ensure that all changes have been correctly implemented and that the project isn't disrupted.
To further explain change management vs. control, the latter represents a decision to make a change, while the first refers to the aftermath.
Change management examples
Now, let's take a look at hypothetical changes that might happen in a project lifecycle and go through five steps that are part of the change control process. Let's take the example of painting a room. A client wants to change the color from previously agreed to dark purple.
This change was initiated at the meeting with the construction project manager, who has created a change proposal to capture the change.
The team will then inspect how this color change affects the entire project. Maybe some other paint has already been purchased. Is dark purple more expensive?
After investigating the impact, the project manager will make the final decision. If this change affects the budget, then they will consult a client.
After everyone agrees, the change is made. The new color is purchased, and rooms are painted. The client approves the paint job and costs, which brings the change control process to an end, or so-called closure.