Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Project changes are inevitable, part of Project Management Foundations: Change.
A project change is a fix to any deliverable, resource, activity, or duration that was not originally in your project plan. So to understand project changes, you have to think about the project plan. If there is no plan, then there's nothing to change. Project planning is a complex topic. For the purpose of this Lynda course, you just need to remember 3 things. The first is that your plan is filled with guesses. So, get comfortable with the idea that there is a foundation of uncertainty. Second, you'll have to plan according to what's considered normal for your organization.
Do you work with planners or adapters? Third, you'll need to know your stakeholders. Will your stakeholder be available to you from day 1 or will they chime in near the end? So, let's start with the first thing you should remember. Your plan is filled with guesses. Your plan is your project's story. It won't read like regular fiction. It will read like science fiction. A prediction of what will happen wrapped in what ifs and guesses. Instead of focusing on killer androids or flying cars, your plan will have guesses about budgets, schedules, and risks.
These guesses won't be called, "My best guesses." They'll be called something more concrete. Like, "Cost-benefit analysis." "Analogous estimating." Or "Earned-value management." But they'll still be guesses and some of them will be wrong. Most project changes happen when you need to fix the gaps between your guesses and the deliverable. It's where your project's plan confronts the reality of delivering a product. Let's think about the second thing to remember. How your organization impacts your plan. How you plan for your project depends on your organization's comfort level.
Are you the type of project manager who emphasizes the perfect plan? Or are you the type of project manager who likes to create a loose framework and then fine tune the plan after the work begins? If you place a lot of emphasis on your plan you'll probably be uncomfortable with too many changes. If you create a loose plan, then you'll probably easily embrace project changes. If your organization has a lot of management overhead then you'll be probably doing a lot of planning. If your organization is in an industry where there are a lot of variables, then you'll probably being doing a lot of adapting.
Software development has a lot of variability. So there's a strong trend towards the adaptive, agile framework to deliver software. Regardless of your organization, you will spend at least some time planning. A project plan with a lot of time dedicated to planning will be judged by how many of your guesses were right. It makes sense that if you spend a lot of time planning you'll be under pressure to be right. If you organization is more adaptable, then your plan is judged by how well it deals with changes. A good plan, in this case, will be detailed enough to be useful but not so detailed as to discourage improvements.
Your changes in your plan will always be pushing and pulling. If you spend a lot of time planning, then the pull will be for fewer changes. If you spend only a small part of the time planning then the pull will be for easily adapting to changes. Now, let's look at the last thing to remember. How closely will you work with your stakeholder? When I worked on a project in Texas, there was a stakeholder who worked right next to the drinking fountain. Any time someone would go for a drink, he would talk about the project. He would then bounce around ideas in sort of an ad hoc brainstorm.
The next day he would dismiss the old ideas and then add a new series of ideas. So there'd be 2 changes. The team would have roll back the old ideas and then add in the new ideas. It was terrific to have a fully engaged stakeholder but the project was always bogged down in changes. This is the experience that many project managers have with change. Whether it's by the drinking fountain or in a conference call. Changes can be the fixes that happen when your project gets greater attention from your stakeholders. Many stakeholders have a difficult time planning in the abstract.
It's important to keep this in mind when you create your plan. The project might not really appear on the stakeholder's radar until it can be felt, seen, and heard. If your stakeholder is bogged down, there may be many changes. Don't assume that silence today means fewer changes tomorrow. Keep your stakeholders in mind when you make your plan and you'll be spared headaches after the work begins.
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.