Changes are an avid part of any project. Whether organizational changes, changes in objectives or working procedures for a project, changes always seem complicated. That's why, how a business handles a change can be a make or break. When starting your career as a project manager, a complete understanding of the change control process is crucial.
Here we have prepared a guide on the change control process. Have a look to understand what change control is and how to create an effective change control process for successful project management.
What is Change Control in Project Management?
Change control is a process to avoid unnecessary disruption by detecting, recording, and approving all necessary adjustments taking place in a project.
Change initiatives at scale, like digital transformation, need the complete cooperation of different groups and teams and therefore come with more challenges for Project managers. These kinds of initiatives demand rigorous and structured control procedures.
One of the primary functions of change management is to limit unapproved alterations, which in turn helps cut down on mistakes. Also, project managers can use available resources better by following a structured and integrated change control process.
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Benefits of Change Control Process
Effective change control process in project management can be exclusively beneficial to your business. Companies can improve employee productivity by implementing a state-of-the-art change control process and ensuring collaborative teamwork and change communication. Here is a list to summarize the benefits of the change control process.
- During the change planning phase, project managers will learn about the need for change and have time to think about how to proceed.
- Lower the risk that comes with each change;
- Superior cost savings and risk mitigation;
- Making changes requires lesser time;
- Changes can be made with less impact on the project schedule because requests will be taken into account and managed around the project schedule.
What are the Types of Change Control?
Change control can be classified into two categories:
- Unplanned changes
- Planned changes
- Unplanned changes are something that requires immediate action. E.g. Withdrawing a product from the market because of an unavoidable problem might be called an unplanned change.
- In contrast, planned changes are executed with proper planning while analyzing the risks and following a specific timeline. A planned change comes with a specific goal of preparing the organization or a particular team from the company for new goals or new objectives. This can include changes such as a change in company culture, internal structure, processes or any other aspects.
Key Elements of Change Control Process
1. Change Requests
If you want to modify your project, you need to submit a change request. This document describes the proposed changes and the key justifications for them. Those involved in a project, either internally or externally, can put in a change request.
2. Change Control Board
The purpose of a change control board is to review and decide on proposed changes to a project at regular intervals. A change order can be created out of a change request if that request is approved.
3. Change Order
If the change control board decides to go ahead with the requested modification, the next step is for the board and the affected clients or stakeholders to sign a change order. There will be modifications to the terms originally outlined in the contract, and both parties agree to these modifications.
4. Change Log
A changelog is a tool used in change management to keep track of any modifications made to a project's plan or agreement. Every project manager should have access to a well-defined change log.
Change Control Process [In 5 Steps]
A typical change control process flow consists of 5 steps. Check out the change control process steps below to effectively create and implement the right plan of action.
Step 1: Identification for change
To make a change, any stakeholder may identify the need for the change and explain it on a project change request form. A change request form initiated by any team member should consist of the following details,
- Project name
- Request description
- Requested by
- Change owner
- Change Impacts
Step 2: Asses the Change Request
- If a change request is not legitimate, you must deny or cancel it as a project manager.
- Then, you need to figure out what resources will be needed to do the change request analysis.
- After that quickly evaluate the potential outcomes, and revise the request form as needed.
- As of right now, rejected requests for modifications should be put on hold.
Step 3: Analyze the Change Request
- Assign the change request for evaluation to a qualified staff member.
- Repeat this analysis with the deferred change factored in.
Step 4: Implement the Change Request
- Before approval, determine the risk and complexity of the change.
- Evaluate the impact of the change before giving final approval.
- Analyze Effects of Change Request for review to the appropriate authority
Step 5: Change Request Closure
- Revise project management practices and procedures
- It's important to keep everyone informed of the changes.
- Check the request for change status routinely.
- Document the outcome of the change request.
- Stop the request for changes.
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Different Factors of the Change Control Process
When it comes to different factors of a project change control process, there are 6 key elements to it. These are Leadership Alignment, Communication, Stakeholder Engagement, Change Impact and Readiness, Training, and Organization Design.
1. Leadership Alignment
Leadership Alignment should not take too much work. Usually, the project sponsor gives the original brief and describes the perks, so they should already be on board. Still, keeping people interested and on board with the project can take extra work if they are under a lot of pressure and their priorities are always changing. Project managers often presume that other senior executives interested in the project share the same views as the project sponsor or agree with the project's goals. However, if they aren't, it's vital to get their assistance since your senior team members will have an effect on other stakeholders.
2. Stakeholder Analysis
At the start of a project, it is important to do a stakeholder analysis. It lets you find and learn about project stakeholders, put them into groups, and make engagement plans for each group. Stakeholder Engagement is a key part of the change, and it should be kept up throughout a project and even afterwards help a change stick. Groupings of stakeholders and plans for getting them involved should be changed and updated at different points in the project.
Communication is the most important thing. A project manager needs to find out what communication channels are available and follow the steps required to utilize them. You want to get people interested in the project. People will make up their own truths if they can't talk to each other. So, if you have something to say, say it. If you do or don't have any new information, say so.
In a change control process, every team member needs to be as open and honest as possible. Also, as a project manager, you must not make more promises than you can keep. This will help you build good relationships with stakeholders and earn their respect. Communication isn't just about obtaining and forwarding information from one person to another. It's essential to provide your team with a way to respond through feedback loops so they know they're important and can work together on ideas for the project. The feedback you get will help you decide how to communicate in the future.
4. Change Impact and Readiness
Change Impact and Readiness is one of the most important factors in a change control process. It's about how much the change affects stakeholders and how prepared they seem to make the change. Readiness activity, which could include a Readiness Checklist and a Readiness Status Tracking system, offers insights into the group's ability to make the change and reduces risks to delivery.
As a project manager, you need to ensure that the groups responsible for implementing the changes can provide accurate answers to your readiness questions. If they claim they're ready but aren't in reality, you'll run into problems later on in the delivery. When the planned readiness levels aren't met, change plans should be used to limit the damage to the project.
5. Training and Following Organizational Structure
Where you have found gaps in knowledge, training is needed to help with adoption and integration. This could be both technical and about how they act. Depending on the type of change and the number of people affected, the best way to train will be one-on-one, in groups, through "train the trainer" programs, training guides, or in a remote or controlled setting.
To support the change, businesses or teams that are affected may need to develop new organizational structures or make changes to the ones they already have. The "as is" and "to be" analyses should be finished, and the related processes and role descriptions should be made. Organization Design might not be part of the project, but it is still needed for it to work. This means that design work needs to happen alongside the main project work, and any changes need to be made before or even during the project's delivery time.
Apart from these five there are some other factors which are crucial for successful change control. You can learn more on the same from the PMP online courses.
How Do You Implement the Change Control Process?
You can follow the above steps to create an effective change request process. However, knowing when to use a change control management plan will help you to be ready when the time comes. Change can take many forms, depending on what new projects are going on and what tools are in place.
Changes frequently include deadline extension requests, reorganizing information, or changing what needs to be done.
The following can be the scenario when you might want to use a change control process.
- Over scope: You may need to implement the change control process if a project is getting too big and it's difficult for the internal team to live up to the pressure.
- Inconsistencies in a project: If you notice volatility in the process flow of a project, asking for a change can help you avoid having to redo deliverables later.
- Goals that are too high: In some cases, meeting the objectives and expected key results may seem far-fetched. In such situations the right change control approach is to let people know about the limitations before the project is done.
- Introduction of new tools: If new tools or processes are in place, you may have to change things as you work out unique problems during your first few projects.
To create an effective plan for change control, project managers need to have access to change control tools. Depending on the nature of your project workflow you need to look for the following tools in your change control software.
1. Flowchart / Process Maps
Flowcharts or process maps work as great tools for change control mapping. It allows all the stakeholders to get a clear idea of the process, no matter whether they are working internally or externally on the project. A flowchart is easy to create and manage. Project managers can map out the current state of the organizational process, update on the change management cycle and add or remove change requests depending on change control board approval through a flowchart.
2. The ADKAR Analysis
ADAKAR model stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement. In change management, ADKAR analysis is used as a training tool to ensure all the people related to the project believe and support the change. It represents a set of goals for team leaders. The plans are designed to implement the already approved changes. Product managers can achieve these goals through
- Spreading awareness,
- Rejuvenating the desire of employees to contribute,
- Offering required knowledge,
- Improving ability,
- Reinforcing the changes.
3. Force Field Analysis
Using a barrier and aids analysis or force field analysis can help you make better choices as a project manager. It's a useful tool for understanding the stakeholders' motives behind supporting or resisting a change proposal.
4. Culture Map
A Culture map tool is typically used to visualize a company culture influenced by company norms, values and employee behavior. It allows product managers to find information essential for the change initiatives. While working as a project manager, a culture map can help you trace the positive enablers in your team. Thus, it becomes easier to assign the responsibility to the right person ensuring minimum risk for the project.
Apart from these there are several other tools that project managers can use for better change control. Best Online Project Management Courses can give you the right insights on the same.
Change Control Process Example
Let's look at a hypothetical project change control process example and go through the steps that make up the process. Suppose in a website design project; the client wants to change the white colour of the theme to a light green colour. Here is an example of how the change control process will be implemented in the system,
- During a meeting with the project manager, the change is made. The manager then writes up a change proposal to record the change.
- The design team then looks into how the colour change will affect the website. They will also consider factors such as,
- Did they already design the theme in a colour scheme containing white?
- Is changing it to light green affecting other design elements on the website?
- The project manager will decide what to do after determining how it will affect the project. If moving forward affects the budget, the client will be asked what they think.
- The change is made once everyone agrees on it. The new colour scheme is selected and then put on the website.
- The change control process ends when the client approves the design work and any cost changes.
Change Control Process Templates for 2023
Change control process templates are very crucial when it comes to implementing the changes effectively. Project management teams may use several change control templates depending on the nature of changes. Let's have a look at some very common change control templates,
1. Change Proposal Template
A change proposal template will help you find out the "why" behind the change, even if the change has already been approved. Once you've filled out this template, you'll be ready to explain why the change is necessary and help others do the same.
- Changes proposed
- Reason behind change
- Expected outcomes
- Estimated time
- Estimated costs
- Any additional factors
2. Change Communication Plan Template
A communications strategy is an important part of any plan. People affected by a change are ultimately responsible for its success, so it's important to devise a plan for communicating the change. A change communication plan template will help to better execute the plan.
- Change management model
- Change leader
- Events that involve communication
- Date of communication
- Method of communication
3. Change Analysis Template
Each step of a change control process involves several different smaller steps. Project managers need to analyze each of these steps carefully. A change analysis template helps to monitor and implement the changes effectively.
- Change management model
- Date of analysis
- Issues faced
- Required actions
Change control template
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Tips for Change Control Process
1. Make use of project management software
Use of project management and change control software is a great way to make sure that your change control processes are running smoothly. Software designed specifically for managing projects can offer numerous advantages, including more efficient communication, on-point scheduling, and better use of available resources. Team members can understand their roles and the team's overall objectives more easily through the use of collaborative software tools. Some software that facilitates group work includes the following:
- Microsoft Project
2. Recognize Potential Risks
The risk associated with project management can be described as anything that might come in the way of meeting the project goals. During the change management process, project managers frequently assess the project's potential risks. Only then can they create effective change control strategies that will have minimal negative effects on the business.
Risk identification, assessment, and mitigation are crucial for successful change control management. Developing an effective change control system helps businesses prepare for potential hurdles and overcome them easily.
3. Create Change Control Plan
When introducing modifications to a project, a well-thought-out change control plan can boost output and reduce wasted time. This is because having a solid management strategy can help a project manager anticipate problems, create alternatives, and prepare for any eventualities. Establishing a significant shift in an organization with these plans can help in cost cutting and scheduling while ensuring zero negative impact on other operational factors.
4. Use a Change Request Form and a Change log
The process of tracking, evaluating, and enacting change requests is simplified using a standardized request form. Change control templates can ensure an efficient change control process by providing team members with a standard format to follow when requesting a change. It also aids project managers in keeping tabs on change requests and changes made in the past.
Change control improves teamwork, boosts employees' productivity and helps teams solve problems much faster. As you go through the article, you will gain some essential knowledge on several factors associated with the change control process.
That's all from our side. For further queries, check out the faqs below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the difference between change management and change control?
Change management is a process of understanding, adjusting and adapting to new norms after organizational transformation. Whereas change control is more of a part of change management that sources, analyses, manages change requirements, and creates a roadmap or change implementation schedule.
2. How do you manage change control in a project?
Project managers can follow a change control template and keep a close tab on the change log to effectively manage change control in a project.
3. What are Change Control Process Best Practices?
As a project manager, the best change control practice you can follow is to use a change log and keep it updated and accessible to every project stakeholder. Apart from that, you must follow the methods mentioned here.
4. What are the 3 main objectives of change control?
The three main objectives of a change control process are,
- Analyzing the process and making corrective and preventive changes to stop recurring issues in a project.
- Ensuring the change requests are aligned with the project management plan.
- Processing change requests based on the direction offered by the appropriate authority.
5. How do you write a change control document?
To write an effective change control process document, project managers should
- Explain the reasons behind the change.
- Identify different stakeholders and create a change management team. Clarify the particular benefits associated with change.
- Demonstrate clear goals for the project management team to complete the project.