During a project, a change request can often be met with dread. But the fact is, they are a reality in the business world and often, change requests are submitted for legitimate reasons. In our constantly changing business environment, it is impossible for anyone to really know exactly what they will need to achieve their objectives at the start of a project.
So the best way to handle change is by managing it rather than avoiding it. Although teams should resist unnecessary changes, it is important to stay open to new opportunities that could bring more value to the project and the organization.
This article will explain what a change request is and discuss five steps for effectively manage them.
What is a Change Request?
A change request is a proposal to alter a product or system, often brought up by the client or another team member. During a project, this can happen when a client wants to change or alter the agreed upon deliverables.
Change requests can also be initiated internally as well and can include things like changing or upgrading software. In general, there are two types of change requests: those that are inside the scope and those that are outside the scope of the project.
Change requests that are inside the scope involve small corrections to an existing requirement. They usually have minimal impact on the budget or the rest of the team. On the other hand, change requests that are outside the scope take a considerable amount of time to implement and have a more sizeable impact on the budget.
However, a change request is often inevitable and should be expected at some point in any project. And when the entire team is up-to-date on the change request it can be dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner. It is the change requests that are not approved or not communicated to the other team members that ultimately cause a problem.
Once a change request has been made, the entire team should be informed and they can come to an agreement about how to satisfy the request without using unnecessary resources. There are three important questions to ask about any change request:
- What is the change?
- What is the benefit?
- How important is it to you?
5 Steps for Managing Change Requests
There are a lot of obstacles to overcome when trying to deliver on a project. A change request will often come up throughout the course of most projects so it is a good idea to have a plan for how to handle them ahead of time.
Often, change requests are necessary and can offer many benefits. Managing this process in an effective way can allow for greater internal communication, efficiency, and alignment with overall business goals. Here are five tips on effectively managing change requests:
Request any supporting materials
You want the person who is making the change to be as specific as possible. Ask that person to put their request in writing and provide any supporting materials that might be helpful.
Have that person articulate why they are requesting this change and what the anticipated benefit of their change request is. This will help your team determine whether or not the change request is worth the effort.
Determine whether the change request is in inside or outside the scope
It is a good idea to consider what the scope of the change request is. If your team chooses to implement this change, what new requirements will this put on the project? You will want to consider all aspects of the project that will be impacted by implementing this change request.
If the request is outside of the scope, a lot of problems might end up popping up – going over-budget, for example. Or having to waste too much time on a project you’d never even agreed on.
Have your team assess the priority of the change request
Before your team implements any changes to the project you should consider any possible risks. What is the expected benefit of the change being proposed? Is this change request the result of an actual need to respond to a change in the marketplace or would it simply be nice to have?
You can consider the opinion of the person who proposed the change request, but at the same time, use common sense. The client might not know what’s in their own best interests.
Have clearly defined guidelines for evaluating the urgency as there may be varying opinions amongst team members.
Approve or reject the change request
Now that you know how important (or unimportant) the change request is and understand the impact it will have on the project, the team can either approve or reject the request.
Different organizations will have different ways of going about the approval process. Generally, a change request that will require minimal additional work can be approved within the team. Whereas a change request that would require a month’s worth of additional work may require executive approval.
Decide on a course of action going forward
If the change request is approved then the project deliverables will need to be updated. This can include plans and schedules, business process documents, and the requirements documents.
Once these updates have been made, the project manager can communicate the new course of action to everyone who will be impacted. Now you can delegate the necessary tasks to the people in charge of implementing these new changes.
The best way to handle proposed changes to a project is to have the right processes in place to manage them. A sure-fire way to do that is by using the right workflow software. This ensures that none of the essential steps are missed, and everyone’s on the same page with what’s going on.
Tallyfy can help you manage and track your workflow and will ensure that every team member stays in the loop. And because every step is recorded, you have a built in an audit trail that will allow you to go back and retrace your steps if something goes wrong.