Part 2 Chapter 9

Part 2 Chapter 9

Change Control


But there’s a problem, I hear you say. It’s all very well starting out with a goal that is a box but, as the project unfolds, things change, goalposts shift, we find out more, new circumstances emerge, stakeholders ask for more things, extra things. It’s a cliché how much change there is in the 21st century and there will be changes on our projects – even small ones – over their lifetimes. In no time – if we’re not careful – our nice tidy box will end up as a cloud again.

While it’s true that things change, there’s no problem with that and our project management method will allow for these changes, provided it contains change control.

Change control means that when a change occurs on a project, whether small or big, we respond correctly to that change. By ‘respond correctly’ we mean that you pick one of the following three (only) choices:

  1. Declare the change to be a big change. One of the biggest mistakes that project managers make is to assume that once they’ve committed to a plan for a project, that this plan must hold irrespective of what changes occur during the life of the project. This is clearly nonsense. If for example, the stakeholders ask for many additional things, then clearly the original plan can’t stand any more – it has to be modified. Equally, if your project is stripped of resources and these are given to some other project, then all bets are off – you are going to have to come up with a new plan based on these new, changed circumstances.  Some of changes which occur on projects are like this – they are big changes and you have to say that to the stakeholders.
  2. Use contingency to deal with the change. Many changes are not big changes; they’re just small unexpected things that happen during the project. For these you need to have contingency in your plan. For example, you might add some extra time on to the end of the project to allow for these unexpected things.
  3. Suck it up [Work more]. Finally, if there is a big change, but you don’t have the courage to express that to the stakeholders. And there’s no contingency in the plan, either because you didn’t add it in the first place, or you did but then some idiot took it out and you didn’t stop them, there’s only one other choice available to you and that’s to suck it up – work more hours to deal with the change.