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How to Implement Scope & Change Control in Your Project

written by: Jean Scheid • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 3/9/2013

When a project manager looks at change management, change control, and the scope of a project, they might be lost on how they all fit together. Jean Scheid tells us what they all are and how to use them effectively.

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    Defining Scope & Change Control

    Ponder by Striatic First, if you often ponder what project scope is and what change control has to do with your projects, read on. If we define each of them, it's easy to see how they fit together, along with other project needs.

    Project Scope - Every project scope should identify the reason for the project and include the project objectives. The project scope should outline what is included in a project and what is not. The project scope may be redefined through project progress analysis, but it never varies from its original outlines, goals, or stakeholders.

    Change Control - Change control is a process or guide that is introduced at the beginning of your projects and outlines how changes will be implemented. It indicates what is acceptable change and what is not. Change control doesn't change the scope of the project. If the scope of the project requires a change that is acceptable, meaning it is something that should be included in the project, your change control process should outline how change will be implemented.

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    Remembering What the Client Wants

    Change we all fear it by Apesara If your client wants XYZ from your company and you are the project manager assigned to the job, you must first define the scope. Remember the scope should contain strong scope statements, including what needs to be done to get to the final outcomes. Click on the link for a great template you can use to help you write a scope statement.

    Once the scope is set, things may change. Not the final outcome, or scope of the project, but things like the resources you need to get there or budget restraints. The XYZ the client wants is still the same. How you handle changes to a project must be defined in your change control process. Again, Bright Hub PM offers a great template for helping you define and write your change control procedures.

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    Connecting the Two

    Piece of the Puzzle by Inge Pettersen 

    When writing your change control process, remember that changes that will benefit the project should be the only change requests that are acceptable. Eric Verzhu, a project management professional and president of The Versatile Company puts change control this way, "Don't let the change management process be subverted. The formal change management (and controls) guards against the anarchy of sudden decision changes," that may only hamper the project's success.

    Consider that client's XYZ request when writing your scope statement and change control process. Ask yourself questions like

    • Who is responsible for making change requests?
    • Who approves or considers the change request?
    • How does it affect the project scope?
    • Does the change request warrant change?
    • How do I define scope creep?

    Scope creep changes are never good. All they amount to are constant changes initiated by an unclear change control process that changes the scope of the project in an ineffective manner. Make sure your change control process identifies what scope creep consists of so that it will not be a risk.

    To connect scope and change control, define your project's scope and set a clear change control process that the team and client understand. Ensure everyone is aware of who is responsible or accountable. Hold project progress meetings to ensure changes to the scope aren't needed or to determine if they are necessary. Be clear on your project initiation checklist on the project's approach, costs, controls, and stakeholders to help you define the scope. Once the scope is defined, your change control process should be a document that can intertwine with every project you and your team take on.

Keeping Control of Project Scope

In order for a project to be successful, the scope must be clearly defined and understood by all stakeholders. In this series, find tips on how to write a scope statement, how to process scope change requests, and more.
  1. Writing a Scope Statement
  2. Project Scope Examples
  3. Scope Creep vs. Scope Discovery
  4. PM Certification, Scope Management & Stakeholder Management
  5. How to Implement Scope & Change Control in Your Project