Change control is a crucial aspect of project management, taking into account the way technology is advancing and the pace at which change is required in organizations. During a project's lifetime, there are several instances where the set course needs to be redefined as per changing needs of the project, or changes in the priorities of the functionalities, or upgradations in the initial frame of the project.
If a project on its onset looks like its functionalities and features cannot be made clear at first, project managers should consider opting for an incremental and iterative approach, like the Agile method. With this, the project will be completed with feedback and in loops of iteration, thereby providing enough time for a better understanding of its requirements.
The change control process in a project management life cycle has three responsibilities to be carried out-
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- Define the change in terms of the impact it will have on the entire project, the modules in the project that will be affected, and the overall change definition itself.
- Review the change for any discrepancies, and look out for the loose ends or the loopholes that might have been created because of the untimely change.
- Approve the change after a stringent analysis of all of its aspects.
To ensure efficient use of resources and avoid any unnecessary hassle that might disrupt the other services, change management and control are needed in a project's management lifecycle.
The Change Control Process-
The process of controlling and managing change happens in several stages as follows-
- Change proposition
- Defining the summary of the impact
- Decision making regarding the proposed change
- Implementing the change
- Closing the change post implementation and proper testing
There are changes that are difficult to be foreseen, and these changes are a responsibility of the project manager to be analyzed and responded to. Project managers, for this reason, need to be constantly in touch with the latest developments in the technological arena.
Another important piece of the change control process is the risk treatment plan. A comprehensive risk analysis and the development of a risk treatment plan are vital to the successful analysis and implementation of a change. The risk treatment plan helps the project stakeholders and members to study the real impact of the change on the complete project.
The development team and the stakeholders should hold meetings to communicate everything about the change beforehand so that all remain on the same page.
Dealing with change resistance is also important by realizing the need for the change and by taking an open mindset towards all changes big and small that are inevitable in a long-term project.
Steps to ensure smooth Change Control process
Effective change control can reduce the resistance and take place smoothly if the following steps are taken-
A clear definition of the change request – Change Request is the documentation that is used to put the change on paper for further discussions. The person who owns the change needs to explain the change request in such a way that everyone understands. The documentation required as a Change Request can vary from organization to organization. While some enterprises consider a simple email as a change request, some other need a complex formal document.
Submit and Review Change Request – The change request is submitted to the project team via a simple phone call, or a lengthy meeting, which again depends on the organization. A meeting for the change request ensures that everyone in the team has the option of asking questions and getting a better understanding.
Defining options and creating Response Document – After a review of the change request, at least two options should be provided within the response document. The response document should typically include the option name, the proposed solution, the timeline for the change, the impact to the project, and the expiration date of the change.
Final Decision – Now, the ball entirely lies in the customer's court. Before the expiration of the response document, the customer needs to make a decision. If the document expires, any other impact because of the delay should be reported beforehand.
How Change Control Differs From Version Control
Some developers are of the belief that change control and version control are two faces of a single coin. However, for most of the developers and influencers, change control is concerned with changes in the scope of the project, and not with the changes in the features and functionalities.
Whereas, in version control, a snapshot of a software product is archived at each stage in development. The purpose of version control is to allow for a backtrack if the current implementation does not work, while change control has the motive of managing the evolution of the offshore software development product and changes in its lifecycle with ease.
The process of change control would ensure the involvement of the complete team and would mitigate the risks of miscommunication and failures in an understanding of the change. Change control is a point where most of the projects are at the risk of going astray from their initial inception, and the process can make things worse, or better.