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Core Concepts Related to Project Change Control Management

written by: Ronda Bowen • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 1/18/2011

Are you familiar with the core concepts related to project change control management? Even if you've been running projects for a long time, you'll want to refresh yourself on the different concepts that are associated with project change control management here.

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    What is Project Change Control Management?

    Project Change Control Management Project change control management is the careful commitment to ensuring that any change occurring within a project is a) monitored and b) kept from becoming a disaster. When you work with projects, quality improvement efforts, or even change management, knowing and understanding the core concepts related to project change control management is key. The thrust behind project change control management is the careful planning out of the project and the treating of the project as if it is a change management project. Change control is vital in ensuring that your project doesn't run away beyond what the project team can handle.

    One of the core concepts related to project change control management is understanding the types of change that can occur during the project management process. Changes during your project may occur due to a variety of factors. These factors include:

    • The client or customer requests a change
    • The project manager requests a change
    • In-house stakeholders request a change
    • A risk comes to realization and requires a change
    • Unforeseen circumstances force a change
    • The project team creates a change
    • The end users find that the deliverable or service does not meet their current needs

    The above is by no means a comprehensive list. Change in a project can be initiated at any level for a variety of reasons - seen and unforeseen. What is important is that you understand what to do once it becomes obvious that project change is inevitable.

    Image Credit (MorgueFile)

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    1. Treat All Change as a Separate Project with a Separate Scope

    Rather than trying to modify the scope of the already existing project, it is absolutely vital that you treat any project changes as new projects. There are many reasons why this is necessary. First, by treating the change as a separate project, you will demonstrate the commitment to the change. Second, you will eliminate any problems where team members mistake original project scope elements for the new scope elements. Third, you will run less of a risk of having your change project fail if you treat it as a separate project.

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    2. Include Stakeholders in the Project Change Control Management Process

    All stakeholders should be involved in the change control management process. In your original project, you should have already performed a stakeholder analysis. If your analysis has already been performed, it will be easy to involve all project stakeholders in your change control management process. By including stakeholders in any project change control management process, you will increase the likelihood that your project will be completed to fruition.

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    3. Keep Everyone Informed

    It is important in any project to have a communication plan. It is especially important in a change control management project to have a communication plan and to keep everyone involved with the project informed. There are several reasons for this. First, you need to demonstrate the commitment level needed for change enforcement. Second, by keeping open lines of communication, you can catch any misconceptions or confusion about any part of the change. Depending upon the nature of the change, you might want to create a new communication plan for the project.

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    4. A Little Change Can Have a Big Impact

    If you're working on project change, you need to remember that small changes can have big implications. You cannot simply substitute the area where the change has occurred and call your re-planning process done. This is because changes will impact task dependencies, milestones, deadlines, etc. Instead, you will want to make sure that you re-plan your project to fit the new requirements and ask what the new risks are, what the new dependencies are, what the new milestones will be, and how resources are impacted.

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    5. Establish a Protocol for Reducing Future Changes

    Finally, you will want to continuously monitor your project to ensure that no further changes occur. Improper change control methods can result in a host of problems including project failure. At the outset of any project you should have stringent change control mechanisms put into place. It is vital that you are constantly checking for variation, eliminating variation, and reining in change; disallowing alteration to the project unless it is deemed mandatory. Failure to control change can result in overspending time and resources.