A configuration manager’s nightmare is project change gone haywire without a change management process in place or a change log to fall back on. In projects however big or small, simple or complex, within a particular location or geographically spread, it is absolutely essential to adhere to the change control processes. Most of us, would have come across situations wherein while handling a seemingly simple project, we very soon find ourselves in the deep end when not following the project management best practices or change management processes. Even after finalizing the project specifications, there will always be instances where changes are needed to either the scope, the specifications, features or any other. Hence it is vital to have in place a change log, for the project to be implemented smoothly.
It’s usually the the responsibility of the project manager to ensure that the team adheres to the change management process during the project execution. There are no two ways of following the change control process – it needs to be rigid and unbroken. Only if this is the case it is possible to bring the project to completion successfully within the timelines and budgets provided. It is essential to ensure that the right version control is being followed so that the project scope is always the latest. There should not be multiple versions floating around creating confusion in an environment already frazzled over working within the constraints.
Change control can make all the difference between a successful project and a failed one. At the core of the change control process is the change log. It has all the details on the change requests, the analysis, the reviews etc. The change log is the essence of the change control process.
Change log includes:
• Documenting the project requirements at the project start.
• Meeting with the project stakeholders and agreeing that the requirements documented are complete and are part of the project scope of work.
• Getting the formal sign-off on the project requirements
• Monitoring the project tasks, discussions, issues during project execution and documenting them
• Identifying the activities and issues which do not fall under the scope of work agreed at the time of project sign-off and discussing them with the stakeholders. These too need to be documented.
• Analyzing these items which do not fall under the scope of work and verify whether the changes are really necessary and should be included in the project so that the project objectives need to be achieved. If the changes are not going to impact the project objectives, then they should not be addressed, but at the same time they need to be captured so that they would not be added in again later on.
• The changes identified as necessary need to be tracked, monitored and managed so that effort involved in incorporating the changes is part of the project result.
• All the changes deemed necessary should be documented and sign- off needs to be obtained from the stakeholders before incorporating them into the project effort.
Thus having a well tracked change log would ensure that the effort involved in catering to the change requests, their analysis and incorporation can be billed against the project time and there would not be any confusion on the project scope. Also it ensures that the project does not move away majorly from the project scope and thus the budget and time constraints are met.
Project change control is critical for ensuring the success of the project. Without the change log, it is quite possible one would go round and round with the change requests in a never ending loop. To ensure that the project stays true to its goals while on track in terms of the budget and time lines, it is essential to have the change log maintained, updated and looked at throughout the project execution.
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