The unique nature of projects leads to an inherent level of uncertainty. Project managers should expect and plan for project change.
When to use
When establishing a project baseline, the project manager should also establish an approach for how to change the project baseline. These changes may come from outside the project team or they may be initiated by team members who uncover threats or opportunities within the project activities. A regular part of each project review should be to identify when change is needed and to manage the implementation of those changes to the project baselines.
At every project review with stakeholders, the project team should determine if there are any changes to project boundaries or constraints. These can occur due to many reasons such as industry dynamics changing, technology changes, organizational changes, and the impact on available resources due to the success or failure of other projects.
Periodically within the project, the project team should assess the current baseline project plan and determine if it is still the best plan to achieve the project objectives. I normally do this as part of the preparation for stage-gate or toll-gate reviews and I will do this following the completion of a major risk event or milestone. At those times there is usually a significant amount of new information or the validity or assumptions can now be checked. With this information, improvements to the project plan can be developed.
A project change management process is created at the time of project baseline approval. If the company has a Project Management Office, a project change management procedure probably exists and that should be used. The elements of a change management procedure should include:
- The mechanism for requesting a change.
- The process for evaluating the change.
- The definition of roles and responsibilities concerning who can approve the change.
- The method for tracking the implementation of approved changes.
- The method for documenting the changes and the change management process.
- Any templates or checklists to be used throughout the process.
Large complex projects are often managed as a program made up of related smaller sub-projects. When this is the case, the change management system must also address how changes in one subproject will be communicated to other affected subprojects and the approval mechanism that is to be used for multi-project changes. This is one of the most difficult aspects of program management and will often require a full-time dedicated resource to manage this process.
Change Control System: “A set of procedures that describes how modifications to the project deliverables and documentation are managed and controlled.” PMBOK® Guide
This definition is taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013. PMBOK is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
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