The Change Management Foundation
Change is one of those inevitabilities that project managers have to deal with. It can be immensely disruptive, but there’s no way to avoid it--changes will happen on virtually every project. Not too many years ago, the average project would start thinking about how to manage changes when the first change request was received--there were no formal and consistent processes, and often no change request templates.
Things have improved in recent years, and many organizations now have standard processes for managing change, often with a subset of stakeholders forming a change control board to help with the change review process. However, I still think that most projects have room for improvement, and in this article I want to look at how a PM can lay the foundation for strong change management right from project initiation.
Educate the customer
Customers get a bad rap when it comes to change. They are seen as the source of the vast majority of changes, and therefore they “cause the problems” that the project faces in dealing with change. In truth, the customer should be driving the vast majority of product-related changes because it’s their product that is being built. They should be encouraged to request changes that will result in a better end product--there’s no point in delivering a change free project if it results in a failed product.
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