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Project Management – Managing Change Requests

The challenge for new project managers is to balance the benefits of changing scope with the impacts on the schedule and budget. Many new PMs think that changes to scope = scope creep. This is not quite correct, the definition of scope creep is unmanaged change.

What do you see happening?

As the project proceeds through to execution, you will start to receive requests to make changes. This happens often because people cant think through the complexities until some progress has been made. The changes can be simple modifications to the existing scope or can be adding significant changes that will increase the timeline and budget.

The key step is to assess the value of the change against the costs. When you do that, you are preparing the information that the decision-maker needs to make an informed decision; informed being the keyword. Many times during projects, decisions need to be revisited and sometimes they need to be reversed. What you are aiming for is sufficient information to make the best decision at that point in time.

The process is linear:

  1. Analyze the change
  2. Identify options and the decision-maker
  3. Make a recommendation to the decision-maker
  4. Implement the approved solution
  5. Document

How can you resolve it beyond treating symptoms?

This is a normal part of project management, so there are no overriding techniques to solve the problem of change requests. The problem is not that people are asking for change, the problem comes when its not managed.

A final thought:

Its very easy to fall into the hole of scope creep. Sometimes it starts with a change that seems minimal. Taking the time to document a few points of analysis and options will save you from opening the door to changes.

PMs think of it in terms of building/renovating a house. If you ask your contractor to add a few more electrical outlets in the kitchen, he will let you know how much it will cost and how long it will delay the finish. Its up to you to decide whether the benefit is worth the cost.


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