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Change Management

Change Management

Author: Jeff Carroll

This lesson reviews methods for managing change within a project

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Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jeff, and in this lesson we'll learn how a project manager defines, plans, and implements adjustments to a project. This is known as change management. Change management is needed any time a significant shift occurs away from the project plan. These might be the result of changes in stakeholder expectations, which impact the scope, budget, or schedule, project-driven changes, such as the addition of a new Wi-Fi standard to the design of a tablet computer, for example.

Shifts within the marketplace or with customer expectations often cause these changes. These might be necessary changes for the project to succeed, but they still impact the schedule and the budget. Organizational forces. Stakeholders can change on a project. An organization might be purchased or absorbed by another organization with different standards or requirements. Or the project team might be shifted around due to the needs of other projects.

Changes from project risks. Sometimes it's necessary to avoid greater risks in the future of a project by making changes in the present. And changes can be forced by the inability to generate deliverables according to specifications, or to meet performance requirements. For the design of a tablet computer, this might be an inability to have a high definition screen resolution due to the lack of a particular hardware component. This could result in changes that echo throughout the life of the project as changes are made to compensate for a lower screen resolution.

It's important for a project manager to monitor the risk of these changes, and if the changes are necessary, to follow a change management process in order to obtain all the required approvals on the scope, schedule, and budget from the project sponsor and key stakeholders. Once the approval has been given, it will be the project manager's responsibility to integrate and document the changes with the schedule, budget, and scope, then inform the team of the changes.

Sometimes new stakeholders are added to a project after the initial planning phase. This can occur due to organization changes, new hires, or just stakeholders developing an interest in the project's results. The following sequence should be used when a new stakeholder is added to the project. Identify the new stakeholder and confirm what authority they have over the project. Document the new stakeholder's expectations and any additional requirements.

Follow the same process used during scope definition in the planning phase. Evaluate how feasible it will be to make these changes within the current project. Remember the triple constraint. Any change to schedule or budget or scope and quality will impact the other two factors. Make recommendations about the change. Whenever there's a significant change to a project, one that impacts the scope, schedule, or budget, the project manager must document the change through a change request.

Meet with the stakeholders to present the findings. After the project manager prepares the change request, then a meeting with the project sponsor and anyone else who has sign-off authority on the changes must be held. The goal of this meeting is to receive approval or denial for the change. And determine whether changes should be handled by the current project or, if the changes are too significant, perhaps with an entirely new project.

Every project has some form of change, so a project manager should become skilled with the process of change management. To create an effective change plan, a project manager should answer the following questions. What is the change? Though this is primarily detailed by the change request, there might be further details needed to fully outline the change.

Why is the change occurring? Is it outside the project's control, or do processes within the project need adjusted to avoid these changes in the future? For example, if changes to schedule are happening because the design of a product is poorly documented, perhaps the design documentation needs adjusted.

Does this change need to be managed? For example, if a homeowner suddenly decides they want a second floor on their home, then that change certainly needs managed. But if the homeowner wants to have red paint instead of blue on the outside, than that change won't need to be managed unless the use of red paint impacts the schedule or the budget.

And what is the impact of the change on scope, schedule, or budget? These should all be outlined in the change request so that stakeholders can understand how the project will change. If a project manager obtains the answers to these questions, then they can use the information to create a change plan. It's important to remember that changes can be disruptive to a project. So a project manager needs to fully document the changes, plan how they will be implemented with the least impact, and then communicate about the changes to the team and the stakeholders.

And that's all for this lesson. Excellent work. We learned about change management, we learned how new stakeholders can cause changes to occur in a project, and we understand how to manage those changes successfully. Thanks and have a great day.

Notes on "Change Management"

Key Terms

Change Management

The process of managing change to a project by determining required actions.

Change Plan

A formal document that describes the actions and accountabilities required to implement changes to a project.

Source: Image of winding path, x in circle, Images by Video Scribe, License held by Jeff Carroll.

Terms to Know
Change Management

The process of managing change to a project by determining required actions.

Change Plan

A formal document that describes the actions and accountabilities required to implement changes to a project.