As a professional project manager, your aim is to ensure the successful completion of any of your projects. Part of this achievement involves keeping a close eye on the project schedule and finances, which translate to controlling change requests. If a project’s scope begins to substantially diverge from its original requirements and plan, then the client may be satisfied with the final product, but will not be pleased with the time over-run and budget. In addition, frequent changes can doom a project. Therefore, as a project manager, you need to have a change management or change control procedure in place that will help you to limit project changes and only implement those that are necessary for the project’s success. Below are 5 ways to control changes in a project.
1. Document change requests
From the beginning of a project, it is vital to ensure that every person involved in the project is aware that any request for changes should be documented or recorded in an official change-request form.
2. Review the change requests
Change requests usually arise from seeing the progress of a project in reality. After receiving such a request, it is important to first clarify exactly what you are being asked to do. This will help you to ensure that only the changes that are desirable or necessary are approved. Assess the potential effect of the requested change to the final product. Determine whether it is really necessary. Those that are not will only delay the completion of the project. If the changes will have an effect on other people, it is important to involve them in this process.
Also, estimate the time frame that will be needed to implement the change. Determine its effect on the current project schedule. Weigh the advantages of implementing the change against its disadvantages. Ensure that all this information is clearly documented.
3. Decide whether or not to execute the change
Based on the above review, decide whether or not you will implement the requested change. If not, inform the requester or client of the same, explaining your reasons for the decision. Discuss the next step of action. If you agree to the change, move on to the next step.
4. Discuss the implementation processes with the client
Write down the steps necessary for implementing the change. Discuss with the client the effects of the change to the already formulated plan and budget. Most probably, an extension of the completion date and increase in the budget may be necessary. If additional funds or time cannot be allocated to the project and the requester still wants the change to be implemented, then it means negotiating for a trade-off or compromise with another task with lesser importance or demand.
5. Update your current plan
After you have reached an agreement with the client, it is time to update your current project plan so that it reflects the new adjustments in budget, outcome and schedule following the change. Also, inform all the stakeholders in the project concerning the new changes, its effect on the project, the reasons for implementing it and the expected outcome.