Having the ability to effectively manage and control change in a project is one of most important traits of a competent project manager. Change is undoubtedly, an inevitable factor in such management, as things almost never go exactly as planned. It is the responsibility of the project manager to manage the change by maintaining a balance between discipline and control and by assessing the flexibility that can be adapted with the baseline plan in order to meet client expectations. Controlling a change in a project includes the following aspects:
- Sources causing the change
- Early warning signs of change
- Processes that can be employed for controlling the change
- Measuring the impact of the change
Let's consider some of the most important elements of Change Control in more detail.
Factors Leading to Change
Even in perfectly planned projects, anomalies are not unheard of especially if there is a change in certain sources. It is the job of a project manager to pinpoint the sources, adjust the project plan and control the change. Changes in a plan may occur due to following factors:
Customer Requirements - Clients can easily ask for tweaks in an ongoing project. This can include a product requirement or a slight change in details. Whatever the case may be, the manager needs to be on top of it and delegate it the best person for the job.
Technology - Introduction and implementation of new technology comes with unknown risks, which can cause deviations from an original plan.
Execution vs. Planned - Mostly, during project execution, some parameters cause the project to be carried out in a different manner than it was actually planned. These can include change in resources, inaccurate estimates, change in deliverables, change in sequence of operation, etc.
External Influences - Some factors are beyond the control of the project manager and can change a plan irrevocably. However, the manager needs to tweak it to the company and the client's advantage. Not only will this waylay a disaster but it will also allow his people to adapt to unexpected changes.
Employing the Change Control Method
Change control is a method which prevents the project from taking any unexpected turns due to changes in requirements during a project execution. It is basically a set of rules and regulations introduced at the beginning of a project and outlines how and to what degree the changes can be implemented. This method enables identification and management of the anticipated change in a way that allows the project to stay on track as closely as it was planned originally.
Here is how control change is implemented in a process:
1. Change Evaluation - change is either notified to or identified by the project manager. Based on the original project plan, the manager determines what kind of changes can occur and whether change control plan should be formalized or not.
2. Impact Assessment - once identified, the project manager assesses the impact of the change on the planned operations. After that, the assessment is documented using a change control tool.
3. Approval - after documentation, the documents are reviewed by the Change Control Board, which issues either an approval or rejection for it.
4. Implementation - once approval is given, project manager plans the actions that will be required to incorporate the change. This includes adjustment in schedule, planning artifacts for new scope and the budget based on the required change.
5. Verifications - Verification of the new baseline of a project is done to confirm that appropriate actions will be executed to implement a change. This also includes what the anticipated impact on the project parameters will be afterwards.
Planning ahead is essential in project management. A competent project manager anticipates and prepares beforehand for any change that might occur during project execution. For this purpose, having a change control plan is necessary to ensure smooth flow of operations.
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