Project Management

5 Ways to Control Changes in a Project

As a professional project manager, your aim is to ensure the successful completion of any of your projects. Part of this achievement involves keeping a close eye on the project schedule and finances, which translate to controlling change requests. If a project’s scope begins to substantially diverge from its original requirements and plan, then the client may be satisfied with the final product, but will not be pleased with the time over-run and budget. In addition, frequent changes can doom a project. Therefore, as a project manager, you need to have a change management or change control procedure in place that will help you to limit project changes and only implement those that are necessary for the project’s success. Below are 5 ways to control changes in a project.

1. Document change requests

In any project, it’s important to be able to control changes. After all, one change can have a ripple effect that throws off the whole project. That’s why it’s important to document change requests.

A change request is simply a formal way of asking for a change to be made. It should include an explanation of why the change is needed, as well as an estimate of the cost and timeline for the change.

Once a change request is submitted, it should be reviewed by the project manager and other key stakeholders. If the request is approved, then the necessary changes can be made. If not, then the original plan can stay in place.

By documenting and reviewing change requests, you can help to ensure that only necessary changes are made to a project, and that these changes are made in a controlled and safe manner.

2. Review the change requests

Change requests usually arise from seeing the progress of a project in reality. After receiving such a request, it is important to first clarify exactly what you are being asked to do. This will help you to ensure that only the changes that are desirable or necessary are approved. Assess the potential effect of the requested change to the final product. Determine whether it is really necessary. Those that are not will only delay the completion of the project. If the changes will have an effect on other people, it is important to involve them in this process.

Also, estimate the time frame that will be needed to implement the change. Determine its effect on the current project schedule. Weigh the advantages of implementing the change against its disadvantages. Ensure that all this information is clearly documented.

3. Decide whether or not to execute the change

Any project manager worth their salt knows that change is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean that changes should be uncontrolled. In fact, uncontrolled changes are one of the primary causes of project failure. That’s why it’s so important to have a robust change control process in place.

When a change request is submitted, the one of the first things you need to do is decide whether or not to execute the change. To do this, you need to consider the potential risks and benefits of the change. If the risks outweigh the benefits, then it’s probably best to stay the course. However, if the benefits seem to outweigh the risks, then it might be worth giving the change a try. Of course, this decision is never easy, but with a bit of careful consideration, you should be able to make the right call.

4. Discuss the implementation processes with the client

Write down the steps necessary for implementing the change. Discuss with the client the effects of the change to the already formulated plan and budget. Most probably, an extension of the completion date and increase in the budget may be necessary. If additional funds or time cannot be allocated to the project and the requester still wants the change to be implemented, then it means negotiating for a trade-off or compromise with another task with lesser importance or demand.

5. Update your current plan

After you have reached an agreement with the client, it is time to update your current project plan so that it reflects the new adjustments in budget, outcome and schedule following the change. Also, inform all the stakeholders in the project concerning the new changes, its effect on the project, the reasons for implementing it and the expected outcome.