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Changes that people ask for might seem small, but if you get enough of them they add up and can sink your project schedule and budget. Changes always occur. So you have to be prepared for them and have a plan for managing them. The first step in managing changes is recognizing one when you see it. When you kick off the project you save your plan and the documents you created, the requirements, specifications, deliverables, and so on. These documents are how you can tell if someone wants to change.
Make sure your team members understand the impact changes can have and know to communicate changes to you right away when they occur. A change might be an adjustment like moving a wall over by four feet to make more room in the locker room. But a change can also be something added to the plan that wasn't there before. For example, the architect adds more studs and bracing in the walls for equipment that supports people's weight. When a change comes in you have to figure out whether it makes sense and how it might affect the schedule and budget.
One way to quickly evaluate change request is to see whether it supports the project's goal and objectives. What does the change do, what are the results, how does that help the project. If the change doesn't help the project in a significant way you can stop here. But if a change does make sense you move onto the next step, figuring out how long the change might take and how much it might cost. You estimate changes like you do the original project tasks.
How many hours will the change take, who will do the work, how much will it cost, where does it fit into the schedule. If the change pushes dates too late or increases the cost too much, the customer might decide to skip it. Keep all the changes submitted in a list whether they're approved or not. That way you can keep track of how many hours and dollars are wrapped up in the changes that you've added to the plan. Change requests that were turned down could pop up again if the project comes in under budget.
You will still need to know the estimate of hours and cost for changes to see if they might fit into the plan. For example, suppose the hot tub was initially turned down as too expensive. If the rest of the project comes in under budget and the owner decides to add the hot tub back, you'll need to know how much it will cost and the time it will take to install. Track progress on changes as you do for other tasks. How many hours and how much money was spent? Where does the change stand now? When will it be done? When projects get a little bigger with more people involved you might need more structure for managing changes, but the basics are still the same.
Document changes, estimate them, get approval, schedule them, and track their progress.
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