Change management is a fundamental part of every project and, every day, companies face changes, such as launching a new product, or restructuring the organization.

In the Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession Survey it was found that only 27 percent of organisations always use change management practices when working on projects. Why is this relatively low level of change management implementation a problem? Well, because when asked to evaluate the reasons projects had failed, 29 percent of organisations cited poor change management as the primary reason for the failure.

Clearly then, effective change management has a very important part to play in project success. A project manager can expect that at some point in the lifecycle of his project, there will be requests for changes; changes to the specification, to the timeline, or to the design.

In this blog we explore how to manage change in your projects and how to implement a change management process. 

What is change management?

Change management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcome. Change management incorporates the organizational tools that can be utilized to help individuals make successful personal transitions resulting in the adoption and realization of change.

What does a change management process look like?

The change management process is the sequence of steps or activities that a change management team or project leader follows to apply change management to ensure the project meets its intended outcomes.

At the very outset of a project, a process for requesting, reviewing, approving and managing changes need to be put in place. This will ensure

  • There's a formal mechanism for requesting changes;
  • There’s a clear process for accepting or rejecting changes;
  • Feedback is given to the client/user on requested changes;
  • Changes are communicated to everyone concerned;
  • Changes are incorporated in a controlled way.

The approval and rejection of changes

One of the key factors in any change management process is establishing those changes to approve, and which to reject. Therefore, it is vital to establish the criteria and the individuals involved when making this decision. The approval or rejection of project changes should be assessed on:

  • The business case – Is the change a necessity or more of a luxury?
  • The business benefit – What improvements will the change deliver?
  • Available resources – Do you have the manpower or the time to implement the change?
  • The risks – What new risks would the project be exposed to if the change was made?
  • Quality – Will the change affect the quality of other areas of the project?

Every change that goes through this process and is subsequently approved will impact on the project schedule, the documentation and possibly the budget, so it’s essential these are amended accordingly.

The change request process

From the point the request for a change has been submitted, to that change being made, there should be a formal process the request passes through, and this should be communicated to clients, resources and stakeholders.

What should a typical change request process look like?

  1. The formal change request is submitted;
  2. The request is reviewed by the stakeholders, project manager and other parties affected, and information such as time, expense and quality is considered;
  3. The request is evaluated before being approved, rejected or postponed;
  4. Rejected changes are returned to the requester with an explanation of why they weren’t approved;
  5. Budgets, resources and timescales must be adjusted for approved changes and task priorities should be changed;
  6. Approved changes are incorporated into the project plan and risks and dependencies are updated;
  7. A change control report should be produced on a regular basis to show the status of all change requests and the impact they have had on the project over time.

Implementing an effective change management process not only helps to prevent scope creep, but also keeps the project on track and ensures all changes are dealt in the same consistent and repeatable way.

We are delighted to collaborate with Francesca Valli, our change-management thought-leader.    Francesca is a change expert backed by experience and results in transforming organisations and she understands what it takes to deliver business change. Learn more about Francesca.

For more information watch our webinar on knowledge management or read our article 7 steps to knowledge management success

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