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Managing Change Requirements

One of the aspects of managing projects that many project managers wish they did not have to contend with is the reality of changes that need to be made throughout the project life cycle. In most cases. the assessment of change requires the project manager to evaluate the effects on the triple constraint and the best course of action allowed by either the schedule, budget, or customer demands. The project manager must be informed as to the importance of certain components of the triple constraint that might be more important and others that might be less important, allowing him the flexibility to make changes and decisions based on this knowledge. If a particular project has been designed in which the customer requirement is the project deliverable being available for delivery to the customer within a specific time frame, based on specific customer requirements, then the project has a high priority of schedule and possibly a lesser priority of cost or quality. In other cases, a project might have an open window of deliverability, but the quality of the product has to be maintained to specific customer requirements; therefore, the schedule and possibly the cost can fluctuate to manage the customer’s demand for quality.

A project manager must understand the scope of the project as it relates to the triple constraint and specific requirements that need to be met for cost, schedule, or quality so that he knows how to make changes and project decisions based on hard requirements that have to be met within the triple constraint. The focus then shifts to the management and control of change. This is a common problem seen on many projects; the project manager, although excellent at managing normal daily work activities, faces serious challenges in managing changes that may be required. One of the biggest risks on a project is the project manager causing problems due to a lack of experience or development of critical tools and techniques to manage and control change.

Project managers are successful in managing project work activities because they have an arsenal of tools and techniques as well as proven processes that will be selected at the beginning of the project and utilized throughout the project life cycle to ensure various elements of managing the triple constraint are performed correctly. One of the most important processes the project manager can have is a change management system that outlines an organized and specific course of events required to effectively manage change within a project environment. A sample template of a change control process can be found in Appendix A, “Change Control Process.” Using a tool such as the change analysis matrix shown in Figure I.2, you can see an illustration of the effects that change can have within the triple constraint. The circle represents the deliverable and its associated quality (better quality = bigger circle; less quality = smaller circle) and changes in slowing or speeding up the schedule as well as increases or decreases in budget and how each potentially can affect the other two. For instance, an action that might be needed to improve quality may slow the schedule and cost more. Likewise, something required to speed up the schedule can reduce quality and cost less (see Figure I.2).

Figure I.2

Figure I.2 Change analysis matrix

If change is required to manage the triple constraint, it must be done efficiently and effectively to ensure the change is carried out without causing other problems within the work activity and to ensure that the change made was effective in accomplishing the goal of the change. All too often, project managers make changes but do not carry out the second component of monitoring and measuring the effects of the change to ensure it has accomplished what it was designed to do. In other cases, changes are made that clearly accomplish the immediate goal but have adverse effects on other work activities or components of the project that create more problems than the changes originally solved. Project managers need to ensure they are using a comprehensive and proven change management plan to make certain that changes to the project are evaluated, approved, and controlled. In addition, project managers should ensure that others within the organization who might have an expert assessment or managerial approval are included so that changes are appropriate. The ultimate goal in managing change reverts to the project manager’s requirement to manage the triple constraint and keep a project on schedule, within budget, and at the expected quality.

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