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Change management has always been a challenge in any type of project, whether you use Agile methods or Traditional methods. If changes are needed, in Agile, they should be recognised a lot earlier in cycle and managed through with earlier iterations. This type of approach provides a smooth way to project risk out of the way. However, change management challenges are not eliminated when using Agile methods. And that is one of the fundamental mistakes that we often can make in an Agile environment.

In non-Agile environments, change is traditionally kept towards the end and the management of it can become a bottleneck. Change may be necessitated by the external environment, not something within the team’s control. Change management in non-Agile environments assumes that changes come at the end of the project cycle and it is planned, at most, to be minor deviations from the original set of requirements. However, in practice these changes are anything but minor.

The change control should show not requirements changes but focus on external changes that the project still needs to manage. There are essentially three types of changes that need to be addressed in projects:

  • Business Changes: – These are the internal modifications in what the business requires and how this is reflect in what the project needs to do to facilitate this change.
  • Market Changes: – These are changes that are inevitable due to external market conditions such as competitors’ product or service enhancements or regulatory changes. Often referred to external market drivers
  • Contractual / Team Changes: – Changes that are made on the project due to internal workings. These changes include but not limited to the terms & conditions, scope of work, requirements, schedule, costs etc. 

The most important function of the project is to prevent these uncontrollable changes and minimise all impact / occurrences. However, this is not always reality and there are uncontrolled and unexpected changes in expectations and requirements outside the project influence that needs to be managed.

When a change request is made, you as a project manager need to analyse the same in order to evaluate whether it is within or outside the scope of the original project requirements as well as how it is going to impact the your project namely scope and cost. Your impact analysis should not only reveal the impacts of changes on the product also it should provide you the essential information related to the effects of changes on people, processes, quality of the project and on the operation of your company.  

Here are some of the things to consider when dealing with change:

  • Step 1: Do you have the time: – Every work involves more time and the impact analysis of change requests also requires time especially when it is a large change request.  Do you have the contingency to cover it?
  • Step 2: Determine the reason for the change: – Why the change request is made in the first place? Can you avoid it / defer it or is it inevitable? Determine the business need for this change and how the change is going to benefit the project, the process, the work product, the quality and the stakeholders and the organisation.
  • Step 3: Analyse the impact on triple constraints.
    • Scope: Determine the impact on the overall scope of the project, Work Breakdown structure (WBS) or scope documentation
    • Cost: Identify any changes that need to be made to the project resourcing
    • Schedule: Estimate the time required to define and plan the proposed solution and the time required to implement the proposed changes. Evaluate the changes to the milestones and to the critical path.
  • Step 4: Identify dependencies: – Your various project activities are interwoven by r relationships.  Identify other tasks or projects that are dependent or influenced by this change being approved.
  • Step 5: Examine the risks: – Look at the risks that are associated with this change. Identify all the risks that the project is facing or will face in the future due to this change.
  • Step 6:  Determine the impact on the Project management system: – Identify and list all the changes that would need to be made to the project procedures description or to the project decision structure (i.e. milestone plan)
  • Step7: Document your findings: – Properly document all the results of your impact analysis. Prepare a detail report for the change control board to approve changes.

Never underestimate the value of a good change log, it supports what we do and the decisions we have made in a project. Overlook it at your peril.

 

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