The management of change requests refers to the tools and processes used to manage changes within a project and its team.
In the context of project management, the change is all that transforms or influences projects, activities, processes, structures or even work functions.
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The triple constraint in the management of project change requests
A method used to understand change management is the triple constraint.
The triple constraint is what is defined as the process of managing the scope, budget, and time of a project in order for it to be successful.
In simple words, this means completing the project on time, within budget, and according to the standards set by stakeholders, customers or the sponsor.
Part of the change management is therefore to monitor the triple constraint and the ability to quickly identify anomalies.
When there are requests for changes to a project, it is not only necessary to have a plan to manage the change, but it is also necessary to have a responsible person in charge able to follow the resolution of the problem before it can seriously threaten the project.
To keep track of the triple constraint, it is therefore necessary to have an integrated control of the changes throughout the project.
This includes a review, analysis, and approval process for change requests as soon as they arrive.
The scope of the project
The change management process is the sequence of steps or activities that a change management team or project manager follows to ensure that the project meets the expected results.
During the development of a project, it is normal for the project manager to find himself facing the change management and this does not necessarily mean that the project is going in the wrong direction.
Other times, the project manager can really encounters episodes of scope creep – ie. moving away from the purpose of the project – which, in the long term, can lead to destruction.
The scope of the project defines the deliverables and outputs that the project must produce. It also includes information on the timing and budget available.
The scope is always defined at the beginning of a project’s life cycle, specifically during the planning phase.
Of course, even when the scope has been identified in detail, it is possible that some changes and modifications are necessary.
Among the causes that can lead to the need for changes we find:
- Incomplete or incorrect requirements analysis
- Lack of involvement – right from the start – of end users who must agree with the results that the project team is trying to achieve
- Underestimation of the complexity of the project
- Lack of control of changes and modifications
- Weakness of the project manager and / or project sponsor
Change management process
To avoid having to resort to a change management process due, for example, to scope creep, it is possible to follow these advice:
- Ensuring that there is unambiguity about the vision that project managers, project teams, and stakeholders have on deliverables and project outputs
- Understanding the priorities of the different stakeholders
- Subdividing the works through a WBS – Work Breakdown Structure – also introducing milestones control.
- Defining a clear change management process for each team member
- Verbalizing and documenting the delivery and acceptance of the output at the end of the project
The four steps of the change management process
Therefore, in these cases, the project manager should apply the change management process, consisting of four main phases:
- Planning change, where the strategy to be followed in the event of changes is defined. This must be clearly communicated to all team members. Therefore, initial communications are generally made in order to create awareness of the reasons for change and the risk that non-change would mean. The project manager must therefore prepare an adequate communication plan and be able to address the information needs. For instance, each public has particular information needs based on the role it plays during the implementation of the change and the project manager must take this into account in order to draft an effective communication plan.
- Implementation of changes. Here, the changes are put into practice by the project team. Employee engagement is here necessary and their feedback is a key element of the change management process.
- Monitor and control of changes. In this phase, all the changes made are verified and checked in order to find any errors and to have time to correct them promptly.
- Post-project review. The final step in the change management process is the review at the end of the project. It is at this point that it is possible to evaluate the entire program, evaluate the successes and failures, and identify the process changes necessary for any similar future projects. This is part of the continuous improvement of change management within an organization.
These were the fundamental elements of change management.
Good project managers apply these components effectively in order to ensure the success of the project, avoid the loss of good employees, and minimize the negative impact of change on a company’s productivity and customers.