Change Requests are a fact of life in software projects. Users want to change their requirements, the IT guys have bright ideas for improving the design and of course unforeseen external events can cause project changes.
Managing Change is vital for success. Allow too many change requests and the project can be swamped by them and get out of control. Refuse some key change requests and the end product may be unusable.
What is a Project Change Request, what do we mean by Change Management, what do we mean by Change Control?
The term Change Management is sometimes used to mean the whole process of managing projects and managing the implementation of their products. However, here we are using the term Change Management to refer to the management of changes that are requested during the life of a project. Sometimes the term Configuration Management is also used to mean the management of changes that arise during a project.
For example, having defined project scope and signed off the Project Definition Document (see Project Definition) if later during the project a request is made to change the project scope, that is a Project Change Request. If having agreed and signed off the design document someone would like to change the design during, say, the build phase, they would raise a Project Change Request. These Project Change Requests would be handled in accordance with the project's Change Management process, sometimes called the Change Control process.
The Change Control Process must recognise the reality that some change will be essential but too much change can cause project failure. Before the project starts the change control procedure must be designed. An important element of this is deciding who will be authorised to spend the sponsor's money on changes during the project.
Project Change Management is one of the topics covered in this Project Management Course. The section of the course on Change Management covers the folowing:
The easiest way of all to manage change in projects is to eliminate it. That may be tricky, but it is certainly possible to do a great deal to reduce the number of change requests that assail a project. The course discusses the primary causes of change in software projects and describes how these causes of change can be reduced.
Is change in a project undesirable? From a business point of view some change during the project may well be essential. From the project manager's point of view change represents risk - even the potential for project failure. But change can sometimes be good news for the project manager. Software houses can make a lot of money on change requests. Half way through the build phase the client requests a change. The software house knows the client has to have the change. How much can the software house charge the client for the change? Yup, whatever they like. Good business? Maybe.
And what project manager hasn't done this (be honest). You're behind schedule, you're looking at a budget overrun of ?20K and an end date slip of 2 weeks. And then the users raise a change request, for a change that we all know has to be done. And guess what the impact of that change is? Yup, ?20K and 2 weeks - plus the real cost of that change and maybe a bit of contingency as well. Phew! A change request can be a wonderful Get Out Of Jail Free card.
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Project Change Control is one of the topics covered in this Free Online Project Management Course.
This Project Change Request Form can be downloaded (free). It illustrates the sort of things
one might want on a Change Request Form (or Change Control Form if you prefer). Like all forms
you must design your own to meet the specific need of your own project.
Click here to download a sample Project Change Request Form.
This site has many useful form and templates:
Templates for Project Managers, free Risk Forms - Templates covering the entire Project lifecycle from Initiation and Planning to Execution and Closure. More than 50 comprehensive Word and Excel documents are available comprising 300 pages of helpful hints, real-life examples, charts and tables to make your project a success.
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Free Online Project Management Book
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