Learn how to set up a change management plan.
- [Voiceover] The Government Tax Code started out so simple, but a deduction here, a new rule there, and now we have the long, involved tax return preparations of today. Changes are unavoidable so the only solution is to manage them. A Change Management Plan helps you incorporate important changes into your project, while keeping out the ones that don't make sense. First, you need to identify the items that you want to control, such as the project scope, requirements, or the entire project plan.
The versions you control are called baseline documents. For example, the list of project requirements approved by the stakeholders is your baseline. If new requirements are suggested, you can use your change management process to decide whether or not to add them to the requirements list. You also need a group that reviews change requests and decides whether to approve them. This group is called a Change Review Board, and is usually made up of key stakeholders, such as the customer, the executive team, groups involved in the project, functional managers, team leads, and the project manager.
After that, it's time to define a Change Management Process to use when someone requests a change. The process your organization chooses depends on factors like the company culture and project size. Here are the components that most change management processes have. The first step is documenting and submitting a change request. A standardized Change Request Form for people to fill out makes it easier to evaluate changes, because each request has the information the review board needs to evaluate and make decisions.
Typically, a Change Request Form includes details about the requested change, the reason for the change, the business justification, and the results it should produce. In the second step, someone has to evaluate the request and estimate its impact. As project manager, you can assign this task to someone on your team. The evaluator starts by determining whether the change is needed. If it is, the person looks at whether the suggested approach is correct or if an alternative would be better.
The evaluator estimates the effort and cost the change would require, the impact on the project, and whether it introduces risks. In the third step, the Change Review Board reviews evaluated change requests. The Board may reject the change request. They might ask the requester to provide more detail or revise and resubmit it. Or, they may accept the change request. Whether the decision is yes or no, be sure to notify the person who requested the change.
If the Board approves the change request, you update the baseline documents to reflect the change. For example, your project schedule might need new tasks added or deadlines extended for specific tasks. Finally, you track where change requests are in your process. You can use a change request log to record the status of submitted change requests. As a request works its way through the steps, you update the log with who is in charge of the request, the impact estimate, current status, and at the end, actual impact.
You don't have to send every change request through the change management process. Instead, consider setting thresholds so team leads can decide what to do with smaller requests. It's also a good idea to have a process for emergency changes that need a rapid decision between meetings of the Change Review Board. A Change Management Plan helps you include changes that make sense in your project, while protecting your project from being overwhelmed with unnecessary changes.
To learn more about handling change in your projects, see Doug Roses' course, Managing Project Change.
Bonnie Biafore has always been fascinated by how things work and how to make things work better. In this course, she explains the fundamentals of project management, from defining the problem, establishing project goals and objectives, and building a project plan to managing team resources, meeting deadlines, and closing the project. Along the way, she provides tips for reporting on project performance, keeping a project on track, and gaining customer acceptance.
- Defining the components of a project
- What it takes to be a project manager
- Using project management software like Microsoft Project
- Managing project scope, budget, and schedule
- Managing project resources, including people
- Managing project risk
- Initiating a project
- Identifying and managing stakeholders
- Identifying requirements and deliverables
- Developing a project plan
- Building a project schedule
- Assigning resources to tasks
- Understanding the critical path
- Running the project
- Managing teams
- Monitoring performance
- Closing a project