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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chapter 75: Integrating Change Control

The Perform Integrated Change Control process is used to manage changes to the project from project initiation through project closure. A project rarely runs exactly according to the original project management plan, and therefore changes will inevitably appear. Change requests can come from evaluating project performance to bring the project in line with the project management plan, or they can come from other sources, such as the stakeholders. Regardless of where they originate from, all changes need to be managed, which includes getting the changes rejected or approved, seeing the approved changes implemented, and changing the affected plans accordingly.

You, the project manager, must manage changes proactively, which includes:
Identify changes - Identify a change that has occurred and receive a change request.
Process changes - Get the requested changes approved or rejected. Depending on the project and the performing organization, the authority to determine whether a change is eventually rejected or approved might lie with the project manager, a customer, a sponsor, or a committee.
Manage approved changes - Monitor and control the flow of approved changes, which includes:
o Making sure they are implemented.
o Maintaining the integrity of the project baseline (cost, schedule, and scope) by updating it to incorporate the approved changes.
o Coordinating changes and their impact across the project and updating the affected documentation. For example, an approved schedule change might impact cost, quality, risk, and staffing.
o Documenting the complete impact of the changes across the project.
• Protect the integrity of the process - Make sure that only the approved changes are implemented.

In case of large IT companies, when a project is taken for a new customer, almost all the changes requested by the customer are accommodated even if it involves extra cost and resources for the company. This is done to please the customer and to get more projects from them. Unfortunately, it is the project team that bears the brunt of the situation especially when the project manager doesn't care much. As responsible project managers we must ensure that too many changes are not accommodated at the expense of your team.

At this point, you can ask a question: Who will actually approve or reject a change request?

The answer to this question will be determined during project planning. Depending on the project and the performing organization, different possibilities exist. For example, there will be a category of change requests that the project manager may be authorized to approve or disapprove. Other types of changes may be reviewed by a change control board (CCB) that may consist of individuals from upper management and other stakeholders. The roles and responsibilities of the CCB should be clearly spelled out in the change control and configuration control procedures.

The integrated change control process can be explained using the picture below:

Input to Integrated Change Control

Following are the input items to the integrated change control process.

Project management plan - This is needed to help identify the changes and make updates after the changes have been approved.
Work performance information - The performance information is input because performance deviations from the plan will trigger change requests or recommended corrective or preventive actions to improve the situation.
Change requests - This is the obvious input. A requested change goes through an approval process in which it can be approved, rejected, or delayed. These change requests come from various monitoring and controlling processes or from the stakeholders. The change requests may include the following types of recommendations:
• Recommended corrective actions
• Recommended preventive actions
• Recommended defect repairs

These recommendations might arise from performance evaluations.

Enterprise environmental factors - The enterprise environmental factors that can influence the integrated change control process include the project management information system. This is a collection of tools and techniques (manual and automated) used to gather, integrate, and disseminate the output of project management processes. This system is used to facilitate processes from the initiation stage all the way to the closing stage. Microsoft Project, a product that lets you create a project schedule, is an example of such a tool. Another example of a component of the project management information system could be a document management system to create, review, change, and approve documents to facilitate the change control procedure.

The project management information system may include scheduling software, an information collection and distribution system, a configuration management system, and web interfaces to other automated information systems. A configuration management system can be used to monitor and control changes, and it may have some knowledge base that can also be used.

Organizational process assets - The following items in the organizational process assets can influence the change control process.
Organizational procedures - Your organization may have proper procedures related to change control; for example, how to modify documents, such as plans; how to process (evaluate, approve, or reject) changes; and how to implement the approved changes.
Measurements - A database of process measurements.
Project files - Project files from previous projects may be a useful input to the change control process in order to learn from the past.
Change knowledge base - This is the knowledge base that can be used for configuration management, such as official company standards and policies and project documents.

Tools and Techniques for Integrated Change Control

Expert judgment and meetings are the two main tools for the integrated change control process. You can also use the technical expertise of the stakeholders to evaluate change requests. The project management team can also use the experts on the change control board to evaluate change requests and to make approval or rejection decisions about change requests. If there is a formal change control board for the project, it will conduct meetings to review, evaluate, approve, reject, or delay the change requests.

Output from Integrated Change Control

The changes that are processed through the integrated change control process will either be rejected or approved. As a result of the approved changes, the project management plan might need to be updated. Following are the output items of the integrated change control process:
Change request status updates - The items processed through the integrated change control process will ultimately be either approved or rejected. In the meantime, each change request must have some status that can be reported. They could be:
• In Progress
• Approved
• Rejected
• Implemented
• Implementation validated

Document updates - As a result of approved changes, items such as the project management plan and the project scope statement might need to be updated. The baselines in the project management plan and any subsidiary plans may need to be updated as a result of the change.

Prev: Monitoring & Controlling Project Work

Next: Administering Procurements

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