Join Doug Rose for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the risk of too little or too much change, part of Project Management Foundations: Change.
If you ever get a bunch of project managers together, they'll tell scary stories about the change that almost ended their project. With these stories floating around, it's no wonder that most traditional project managers don't readily embrace change. They'll often see their role as a guardian of the plan. They see themselves as the person who keeps those changes out, but as a project manager you shouldn't battle all changes. A change can be a very positive event. If your project doesn't have changes, then there's a real danger that the deliverable will never satifsy your stakeholders.
Remember that a project manager can also be a key driver for change. They will pitch a change to stakeholders. The team might have a new idea when you first start working on a project, and you might pitch the customer to change the scope. There also may be a change in circumstances. The change will allow you to add significant value to the project. The market itself could change, and you might try to force the stakesholders to rethink the entire project. Think about the life cycle of a typical project. Project managers will plan the projects months or even years before the work begins.
They will tie down the scope, and outline the business requirements documents, or BRDs. These BRDs are the product of several guesses. These guesses were products of their time just like disco, but when the outside world changes the project manager might be the key person to see how this change impacts the entire project. Think about our mobile application project. Many mobile applications are built using open source software tools. These software tools are frequently updated.
The updates add new funcitonality and continue to solve problems. This happens with a lot of mobile application tools. They start out servicing one platform like Android, and then they continue to add platforms like iOS or Windows Mobile. Now imagine you're the project manager, and one of the developers says that the updates will add functionality. You might be able to distribute your application to an entirely new platform without much effort. So you might go back to the project stakeholders and ask for a change to update the budget.
You might also ask for a scope change if the update will add a lot of value for a modest amount of work. In this case, you might want to pitch the change to the stakeholder. As a project manager there might also be times when you need to pitch a change to bump a project back on course. Business requirements documents are not always well-crafted. The development team might be spending too much time delivering items that should have never been in scope so you might request a change to eliminate them. So far we've looked at the danger of when a project doesn't change.
Now let's look at the other side of the coin. What happens if your project is changing too much? If your project changes too much, you're in danger that your project might never deliver. This can happen if the project managers are timid and try to accept all the changes that the stakeholders request. I once had a contract working for a company that had a significant reduction in their workforce. They wanted a new team that cost less so they mostly hired young project managers and developers. This workforce change created a group of very timid project managers.
Imagine you're a 22 year old starting a new job. On your first day you move into a cubicle. You brush the dust away and open up your computer and you start working under someone else's crooked nameplate. You look around and everyone else is new because of the turnover. How would you react to changes? Most team members would be tempted to accept all changes just to keep the stakeholders happy. This team would be in danger of never delivering. Too much change is one of the main reasons many projects fail.
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.