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You Can Manage What You Can't Control
Projects goals, resources, and deadlines can change at any moment. While your team may groan, if you have a good change control process in place, you can still deliver that project with excellent outcomes. Change control is simply the process or procedures you put in place in the event of a major change in your project. Major changes include change deadlines, changes in the people you need on the task or money you need to finish the project. A major change could also be one that affects the the output of the project. The process you need to put in place for your change control procedures should be able to handle these questions:
Is everyone on the team right for the job?
What elements of the project might change?
Will those changed elements affect the outcome?
Will my superiors accept the changes I make?
To be tops as a project manager, your change control process should begin before the project by answering these questions before you begin.
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Using Change Management
Much as our reptile friends anticipate when to change colors for survival, so must we, especially since some of us aren't geared for major changes. Examine your project fully as the project manager. If each team member doesn't have the required knowledge or skill for a project, make changes in your team before it begins. Telling a team member in the midst of a project that they have to go does not make a happy team.
Analyze what elements might change. Is there a possibility that deadline could change or do you feel you could go over budget? Be open to deadline changes but have controls in place that deadline changes must be realistic so define at what point you will accept deadline changes. If you know you don't have the required budget for your project, asking for more first is better than spending more during the project. Make sure you can show examples of where your project overruns will be.
Before you begin your project, analysis and hypothesize about change and if you find you won't be able to reach the outcome needed for the project, what is stopping that from happening? If you won't be able to deliver that company relocation budget because upper management has three locations they are looking at, be specific about how you team and the cost of the relocation(s) need to be separate to achieve the required goal.
Make sure you understand what authority you have in your change control process. You can probably redesign your team and be specific on when you can deliver a project, but do your have the authority to spend company money without approval? A good project manager will design their change control process and include budget extensions as well as other changes that may occur to upper management and get the go ahead nod first.
If you aren't sure how to write and implement a change control process, we have included How to Write A Change Control Process guide that can help you on your way to setting up effective change controls. This document is great for any project manager who doesn't have written plans or guidelines on change control.
In our next Change Control article we will discuss how to implement change requests in your projects.