Have you ever created a plan and had to change it after you had already started?
If you’ve been in business for any length of time there’s no doubt you’ve had this happen. Especially if you’re working with clients outside of your company. And if you haven’t experienced it at work you’ve almost certainly experienced it at home, in your private life, right? So, what do you do about it? What can you do about it? Well, if you don’t have a strategy in place then you’re probably not doing yourself any favors, and that’s why we’re going to talk about change management and what you can do to make sure you’re doing this right.
When we start talking about change management you may not really be clear on just what that is. So let’s take a moment to backtrack and look at what it means and what you need to know.
Change management is a process and it’s the process that you use when you change your project, either by changing the scope, the budget, the resourcing, the timeline or the requirements, or any combination of the above. It also refers to the entire process, meaning the identification of a need to change, the documentation of the change and the actual execution of that change.
Now, you could be making a major change in a project or you could be making a minor one. You could be changing a lot of different things or only one or two smaller ones. There are plenty of different ways that you can do this and different ways that you will have to do it throughout the life of your business. But you want to make sure that you’re doing it the right way.
Change requests are going to help your business and your projects keep up with what needs to happen in an ever-changing market. If you create project plans and only ever stick to the plan the way it was initially planned you’re not going to be able to adjust to the needs of the client or the market as a whole. And that’s definitely not going to help you when it comes to keeping your business going strong.
So, what do you do if your boss or your client requests a change? Do you have a policy in place? Do you know what to do to make sure everything happens the right way? If you don’t then you’re going to want to keep reading because we’re going to go over some of the most important changes that you could and should be making and just how you should be doing them.
If a change is requested the first thing you need to do is make sure that it’s actually necessary. Look at the project itself and then look at the change that’s been requested. Will the change actually achieve the desired result? What kind of impact will it have on the rest of the project or any of the other aspects of the project? You’re going to want to know all of this and more.
You’ll want to talk to the stakeholders and your entire team about what the change is, why it’s being requested, whether or not it will help you achieve your goals (or even allow you to achieve your goals), and what challenges are going to come up as a result of making this change. From there, you can decide on what it’s going to mean for you, especially in regards to cost and time, which are two main factors of project management.
You’ll want to make sure you write up a plan for how you’re going to execute the change and what would need to change (outside of the requested change) in order to make it happen. Spelling everything out and getting as much input as possible will help you get a cohesive idea of what you’ll need to do to make this work. And you can let your boss or client know as well.
If a change is required or if you think that it would improve things within your project you should make an official request to change whatever needs to be changed. Don’t just talk to a few people and tell them to make the change. Write down everything that your team will need to know so that they (and you) can evaluate the change from top to bottom.
Project Name – Write out the name of the specific project that you are referring to. This makes it easier to pull out all of the current documentation and get the right team together to review the request.
Requested By – Who are you? Or who is making the request to change the project in any way? You want to put a name here because who requested the change may be important (for example a client request is almost always a required change).
Request Name – Name the request that’s been made so it’s easier to differentiate from any other requests that you might have throughout the course of the project.
Request Number – Along the same lines you’re going to need a number associated with the change request since you will probably have several different requests to change the project throughout the entire course of its completion.
Change Description – What is actually being requested? What is the change that the requesting party actually wants? This part doesn’t pertain to any of the other things that would need to change to accommodate the request, only the initial requested change.
Change Reason – Why does the requesting party want to make the change? It could be just aesthetics or personal preference or it could be more serious than this or more important. Knowing the reason will also impact whether the change is granted.
Change Impact – If you make this change what is it going to mean for the team, the rest of the project or anything else? What else is going to have to change in order for you to make this change? You want to know what else will be impacted so you can make an accurate plan.
Proposed Action – What do you propose doing in order to implement the change that has been requested or as a compromise to the change that is requested? Don’t be afraid to get really detailed here by spelling out each of the steps that will need to happen in order to be successful.
Costs Associated – How much is it going to cost in order to initiate and execute this change? This is over and above the costs of the project before making the change. This section can help you and anyone else responsible for the project lay things out to stakeholders and clients so they know what it’s going to cost in money to do what is being requested.
Time Associated – Another important factor is the time that will be required to execute this change. What time will be required to create a new plan and get any new materials or additional team members involved? What time is required to actually do the additional work? This will also need to be shown to stakeholders and clients who make these requests.
Approved By – Who is approving all of this information? Once you’ve presented it to the stakeholders and/or client you need someone to authorize the change to be made despite everything that is being presented in this document. Get at least one signature of someone authorized to make those decisions as well as a date that they approved it.
Do you really need an official change management form? We would say that you absolutely do. After all, making a change is going to be hard enough but not having proper documentation about just what it means for your team or who authorized it? That’s only going to cause you even more problems in the end. You’ll find yourself struggling along trying to get everything done or even remember what needs to be done.
A change request form allows everyone to present their requests in the same fashion. No one needs to scrounge around trying to figure out what to write or what information is needed. No one needs to even think about where the form was put or whether it was authorized or not. And you definitely don’t have to worry when someone later asks you if this was approved.
An official form makes all of this a whole lot easier for everyone involved. It spells out who is making the request, what needs to be changed and why, how that change is going to be implemented, what else is going to be changed as a result and, possibly most importantly, who has made the authorization. That way, no one is going to get in trouble for implementing the change in the way that they were told to.
This all sounds like a whole lot of work and it’s going to be complicated, but it can be a whole lot more complicated if you don’t have a project management system in place to help you organize everything. With Instagantt you don’t have to worry about anything, because you can set up your project however you like and then you can actually change it up a million different ways without a whole lot of time, effort or confusion.
Instagantt allows you to drag and drop all of your tasks, so you can easily move things around to accommodate changes. If you need to eliminate specific tasks you can do so easily. If new tasks take priority or deadlines change those can be moved as well. In general, you’ll be able to complete customize and re-customize your entire project, as many times as you need to.
You’ll also be able to take a look at all of your timelines so you can see just how long your current plan is going to take and what’s going to change if you implement something new into the plan. That way you can make sure that you’re actually creating an accurate plan for what’s going to change and what’s going to happen when you implement something new.
What’s even better is that everyone on the team and even your stakeholders and clients can see exactly what’s happening with your project. They can see what it looks like now and you can also show them what it’s going to look like if you change things around to implement whatever change has been requested. This lets them make more informed decisions and be involved in all of the minor changes that need to happen as well.
Finally, you can check in with your entire team and get feedback as you go about making these different changes. Everyone will be able to collaborate and give input. Everyone will be able to change their own deadlines and timelines to better reflect what needs to be done and how it’s going to be done. Not only that but you can even send messages back and forth and attach documents and more directly into the system.
When you’re enacting any kind of change in your projects you want to make sure everyone is aware of what’s happening and everyone is making the right decisions that reflect what the team needs. So, how do you make sure that you’re doing exactly that? You’re going to need a change request form and you’re definitely going to need a project management system that works for you.
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