The change is a deviation from the planned, specified, and accepted processes and requirements for the specific project. This article is dedicated to the mandatory processes and techniques related to change management, which enable the manager to guide and bring the project to a successful conclusion, achieving the required quality.
What is quality?
Fulfillment of the project objectives in their entirety and according to the specifications, expectations and as approved by the project sponsor.
Fulfillment of the project objectives in time.
Implementation of the project objectives within the set budget.
Proper management of stakeholder expectations, proactive risk management, and change management throughout the project life cycle, leading to satisfied sponsors and a satisfied team implementing the project.
Who is responsible for quality?
You: the project manager
When the project is behind schedule, exceeds the budget, there are constant problems, there are unforeseen and unresolved risks, changes are constantly introduced that affect the implementation and quality of the project, and when the team’s motivation is low: the project manager is to blame.
When quality suffers or when quality declines, we seek responsibility from the project manager., Reference: The Project Manager and their responsibilities – how to become one, https://wikipedia-lab.org/who-is-project-manager-responsibilities-and-how-to-become-a-project-manager/
With this article I will try to present the mandatory processes and techniques related to change management, which enable the project manager to guide and bring the project to a successful conclusion, achieving the required quality. These processes and techniques are in line with current standards, in particular, the Project Management Institute (PMI) standard for the profession of project managers: “Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide”.
In addition to ensuring the integrity of project management, as well as risk management, we need to answer the painful question:
Knowing that change is inevitable, what should I do to limit its impact on the quality of the project I lead? Reference: Quality control and quality assurance in Project Management and Agile practices, https://scrumtime.org/quality-control-and-quality-assurance-project-management-agile-practices/
What is the change?
The change is a deviation from the planned, specified, and accepted processes and requirements for the specific project. The change may be the result of a request from the sponsor or occur within one of the stages of the project, possibly affecting one or more of the project constraints. The changes may be due to:
new or dropped requirements
necessary corrective actions, which are applied after finding deviations from any of the main parameters of the project.
elimination of defects
Often change is misunderstood or defined as a risk. Remember that risk is not a fact, but rather something that may happen in the future. The occurrence of a change in the project is a certain fact and the probability of it happening is at least 90%. Change and risk are different things. Reference: BVOP.org, https://bvop.org/learn/pmriskmanagement/#section2
What is the conflict between quality and change?
If you read the definition of “quality” at the beginning of the article, you will notice that any change in the project has an impact on quality. In particular:
- the change is a deviation from the approved project objectives
the change in the requirements of the project has an impact on the time required to meet the project objectives – if approved, the change must be duly reflected
- the change also has an impact on the budget, as it requires more resources and finances
- when introducing numerous changes in the course of project implementation, this most likely means that:
- the requirements and objectives of the project sponsors are not well reflected or defined during the project planning
- there is a lack of clear scope and requirements of the project
- there is a lack of good and effective communication between stakeholders within the project
- some risks are not foreseen and avoided
The result is clear: Quality is compromised. The question is, therefore:
How can we limit the impact on quality?
And the answer is:
By implementing change management
The main goal of change management is to prevent or assess, properly reflect, and obtain the necessary approvals for the implementation of changes throughout the project life cycle. This must be done proactively, not just by reacting to changes that have already taken place. Reference: Project Change Management Plan, a real example and template, https://pm.mba/posts/project-change-management-plan/
In the planning process, carefully review the documents defining the scope and requirements of the project, the functional and technical specifications, and the communication plan of the project for possible omissions, unclear terminology, and unreported cases and processes. Such omissions inevitably lead to changes that can subsequently lead to problems.
Review the list of stakeholders, check that their goals are reflected in the project management plans before starting its implementation. If decisions are made not to meet certain requirements, you must receive written and informed approval, confirmation, and commitment to these decisions from project stakeholders. Use this when the requirements are made again during the implementation of the project, creating a precondition for introducing new changes in it.
Regularly review the list of project assumptions – any assumption may lead to a future change if it is no longer valid due to a conflicting requirement or in other circumstances.
All of these examples are techniques for proactive change management. Through them, you prepare for an adequate response to possible future changes. Reference: Change Management Plan – Real Sample Document, Example, https://www.policymatters.net/change-management-plan-real-sample-document-example/
The process of controlling change
It varies from organization to organization, but should always cover the following main stages: assessing the change, identifying opportunities to reflect the change, approving or rejecting the change, planning and implementing the change if it is approved. The most important stages are: assessing the change and determining the possibilities for its reflection, as they set the direction for the others. Be sure to document the change management process in an official document. According to the terminology of the PMI standard, this document is called: “Change Management Plan”. It covers not only the specific process but also the stakeholder group responsible for reviewing, analyzing, and approving the changes. The PMI standard defines this group as ” Change Management Board “.
Assessing change: Is it about change? Is it necessary? What is its impact?
After documenting the change by preparing a change request, you need to ask two important questions before assessing the impact of the change on project constraints. These questions are: is it a matter of change and is it necessary to implement it? Read more: Procurement Management Plan in Project Management Practices, https://www.libraryofmu.org/procurement-management-plan-in-project-management-practices/
The change in the project can be considered as an integral part of it, even more, as something that is included in the project charter. Otherwise, it is not a change in the specific project and should not be implemented. Ask yourself, “Will the project benefit from the requested change?” If you don’t see it, then it’s probably not necessary, and you can justify rejecting it to project stakeholders.
If it is worth implementing the change, enable the team to be involved in assessing its impact on all project constraints. Once you have the assessment, move on to the next step, which is:
Reflecting the change
The main goal at this stage is to determine the best opportunity to reflect the change. What does “best opportunity” mean? This is the opportunity that leads to the most optimal impact of the change on all the constraints of the project and especially on those that are most important for the project.
The impact on each constraint must be carefully considered and after applying all techniques for optimization of project management, eg accelerated implementation, shortening, and adjustment of the scope, to document and compare different implementation plans. I would not recommend quality adjustment – quality is one of the limitations Personally, I would not sacrifice in my projects.
Try to look for options that will not compromise the quality, but at the same time provide an opportunity for more effective implementation of changes. From all available options, choose the optimal one for your project and decide if you are authorized, or give your recommendations to the project sponsor.
Approval/rejection of the change
Depending on his / her authority, the project manager may approve or reject the change, but in most cases, if the change affects the approved and planned costs and/or schedules, the project sponsor, program manager, or project manager is the one who approves or rejects the change. Reference: Sample Change Request Form: Real example for project managers, https://www.businesspad.org/sample-change-request-form-real-example/
In this case, the project manager must recommend the most appropriate option for the specific project. I would recommend the presentation of all considered and applicable options. Having them, the project sponsor can more easily reject the change if its implementation is not necessary.
Remember that one of the responsibilities of the project manager is to prevent any unnecessary changes and often the project sponsor assists in this task.
Never allow yourself to satisfy customer claims that are not part of the agreed requirements – this not only leads to changes in the project, but also has a high cost: cost, time, resources, risks, and even quality! Such impact always compromises the quality of your project. Reference: Cost management plan in project management practices, https://phron.org/cost-management-plan-in-project-management-practices/
Once the change is approved
Planning and implementing the change: What changes should I include in the project management plan? Who is responsible for their implementation? Is the change being implemented correctly?
Update the project management plan to include changes to the various basic parameters and constraints of the project.
These changes include a new implementation schedule, additional costs, additional resources, and even an updated risk register. Each of the project management sub-plans may be affected if the change is approved; so take the time to review and, if necessary, edit them.
They will serve as a new basis for project management until its completion and they will evaluate your success. Review the communication plan and the list of project stakeholders. Reference: Project Communication Plan: Example document, https://bpedia.org/project-communication-plan-example-document/
Ask yourself if you have informed all stakeholders affected by the approved change and if they know what to expect. Assign new tasks to the team responsible for implementing the change in the project, and start implementing and tracking this activity in the same way you implement and track other project activities.
You should not forget the main results of the change management process, as they are a valuable resource for your future projects. Among them are all requests for changes, with the resolutions attached to them, as well as a complete list of registered changes to the project. Reference: Change Control and Configuration Management in Project Management practices, https://www.islandjournal.net/change-control-and-configuration-management-in-project-management-practices/
By reviewing these documents when planning your future projects, you will avoid any changes in the later stages of their implementation, and thus proactively ensure the quality of the results of your projects.
Change and quality
Change is an inevitable element of any project and is a matter of little effort and appropriate project management processes so that it can be allowed and its impact on quality limited. When it arises, analyze it carefully and determine its need and possibilities for its reflection. Then ask for formal approval for its implementation and apply your project management skills to execute the project as if the change never happened. You have new, already approved basic parameters of the project, as well as new criteria for evaluating the success of your project. All you have to do is continue your project management activity, which will lead to the achievement of quality results and its successful completion.