Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Examine where changes happen, part of Project Management Foundations: Change.
In a typical project there are 4 areas where you'll see most of your changes. Scope changes, schedule changes, quality changes, and cost changes. Even though each of these changes is distinct, they'll be closely knit together. A change to the project's scope will usually increase the schedule. A change to the schedule will usually impact the cost. So don't look at these areas of changes independently. Instead, think of them as 4 friends that are carrying a couch up a winding staircase. If the weight of one change shifts too much, then the others have to prop up their corner.
If one corner gets too much weight, then the whole couch might tumble and fall. As a project manager, you need to direct everyone around the winding corners and work to redistribute the weight. Keeping these 4 corners balanced is more of an art than a science. The more experience you have with project management, the easier time you'll have with this task. What you need to remember is that no change occurs without some impact on the other areas. Every time change happens to one area, the other corners will need to be balanced.
In project management, this balance is called integrated change control. You're integrating one change into the rest of the project. So, let's start with one of the most common areas of change, a scope change. Scope change is about what the project will deliver at the end. Each project begins with an agreed deliverable. This is what your project will produce at the end. Even when you agree on this deliverable, when you start the project, the stakeholder will usually come up with new ideas. So they want to change the deliverable.
Think about the mobile application. The scope is to create an application that will run on a majority of mobile devices. But, after you start development, a new technology may emerge that allows you to synchronize your application. The stakeholders didn't include this in the original scope because it didn't exist when they were planning. So stakeholder asks you to add this to the scope of the project. The weight of the scope corner just got a lot heavier. The friend carrying this corner is going to need some help. The developers need a lot of extra hours to work and the team might need some more servers.
You're going to need a budget increase and they're going to add some time to their schedule. If the stakeholder doesn't increase the budget then the weight of the additional scope might endanger the project. The project might fall completely, or the quality will suffer. These other corners need to help with the added weight of the scope. So look for some sacrifice from the budget, schedule, or quality. The second area of change is schedule change. This usually happens because of an external event. Maybe a competitor released a new product. Now your project is under greater pressure to deliver sooner.
A schedule change might also be the result of a scope change. More work will take more time. Like the other 3 areas of change, a decreased schedule will mean an increase in budget or a reduction in the scope. The quality will suffer if you try to rush the product out the door without more money or less to deliver. The third area of change is quality change. This area of change is different from the other 3 because it's usually a reaction to the other changes. You probably won't have a stakeholder say they want to deliver a shoddy product for lower cost.
The same holds true with the schedule. You won't have the stakeholder say, "I'd like to lower quality so we can finish up sooner." In either case, the result is the same. The decrease in budget or decrease in schedule will usually cause a decrease in quality. The only way to maintain quality is by increasing the budget or reducing the scope. The final area of change is cost change. Unfortunately, a change of the cost usually means your budget has been cut. A budget cut will need a shorter schedule or a smaller scope of the deliverable.
If you try to deliver the same product with less money, less people, or less time, you're going to take a quality hit. A cost change to reduce your budget is very common. Many organizations will have an across the board budget cut that will impact every project. It may not be anything personal. Your project just gets less money. Like the other areas, you'll need to balance this area with the other 3. If you have a budget cut, you need to reduce the scope of the deliverable or shorten the schedule. When you get a project change remember you need to balance this change with the other 3 areas.
Remember that every change adds weight to your project. You'll have to redistribute the weight by rebaselining your project. Rebaselining is about updating the project plan to reflect the new change. Your challenge as a project manager will be to equally distribute the weight to get your project up that winding staircase.
Along the way, learn how to effectively manage your project for change requests and deal with common obstacles. Also see how to find the balance between too much and too little change—either can be threat to your project.
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- What are project changes?
- Planning for changes
- Accepting or rejecting a change
- Understanding the risks
- Learning from your changes<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.