A project has a beginning and an end, as seen in the CAPM training. There are five process groups in the project life cycle: project initiation process group, project planning process group, project executing process group, project monitoring and control process group, and the last one is, project closing process group. During this whole project life cycle, changes may occur. The change management plan serves to manage these changes.
In this article, we are going to go into the details of the change management plan. We are going to define the objectives of the change management plan and also how the change control system interacts with the change management plan.
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What is the objective of the Change Management Plan?
Although requirements have been determined in the Requirements Management Plan and scope has been sealed, there might be new requirements of customers or existing requirements might change. Then, project management plan is revised to accommodate these changes. The change management plan is one of the project management plans and it aims to control the changes during the project life cycle.
The change management plan describes how changes will be managed and controlled. This plan should define how should each change be evaluated with its impacts and which alternative solutions can be found to implement the change. Those must be all described in this management plan.
If a change is approved by the change control board, then it is implemented after project plans have been revised appropriately. While evaluating changes, their negative effects should stay limited. So the project manager and the project team should create the change management plan accordingly.
Generally, changes impact a project negatively. They might either cause the budget to exceed planned values or extension in the project duration etc. While evaluating a change, alternative solutions that can be implemented should be analyzed. The optimum solution that will affect the project at the minimum should be taken into account.
Changes should not be undertaken lightly. There might be a small change in a particular activity or in a small component of the project. But, this small change might bring severe impacts on other parts of the project. Therefore, the impacts of the change should be examined and planned properly in the change management plan.
What does a change management plan include?
Change control procedures:
For instance, who can initiate a change request, who can bring it to the change control board, who should analyze the impacts and who will review the impacts etc. are all defined with the procedures in the change management plan.
Approval levels for authorizing changes:
Change requests are approved by change control board but there might be different levels to pass to authorize a change in the plan. For instance, first the engineers in the change control board can analyze and give the first approval, then senior management reviews the impacts and gives the 2nd approval for the change. And if a change passes 1st and 2nd approval levels, it might be forwarded to sponsor to give the final approval. These kinds of levels for authorizing a change must be documented in the change management plan.
Creation of a Change Control Board (CCB) to approve changes:
Change control board consists of people who will review the impacts and possible implementation alternatives of a change. A change can be implemented in a project only if it is approved by the Change Control Board. A plan of how changes will be managed and controlled is detailed in the change plan as well.
Who should attend meetings regarding changes are described in the change management plan:
For instance, project manager, technical leader, and architect of the project must be present during change impact analysis meeting. The sponsor, the engineer who made the change assessment, project manager and senior manager must be present during change final decision meeting etc. These kinds of who should attend to what must be defined in the plan.
Organizational tools to use to track and control changes:
Many companies use tools to track and control changes. For instance, PPM of HP, or Jira of Atlassian are tools used for tracking a request within a company. You can find more information about those, in the Project Management Softwares article. These tools show the details of the request, initiator, history of changes, approval levels and who approved etc. If there are these kinds of tools in the company, these should be stated in the management plan.
What is the Change Control System?
Change Control System includes standardized forms, processes, procedures, and software to track and control changes. How a change can be initiated, what kind of paperwork needs to be initiated, how to pass different approval levels to get approval for a change etc. are all defined in the standardized forms, processes, and procedures of the project. There can be a software tool to manage changes in a company. These tools help to manage and coordinate changes especially in big corporate companies.
A change is first initiated through this tool with the information on why the change is required, the scope of change, etc. History of change, who approved and who is the next level approver, etc. can be seen with the help of these tools. Forms, processes, procedures, and software tools that will help in managing changes in a company are all belong to the change control system.
Change management plan and change control are crucial to meet the desired outcomes from a project. Any Project Manager must know about them to achieve successful results. As a project manager, you can learn more about the change management plan in a project management professional course.