Project Management

Understanding the Cost of Change

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

When I first started managing projects, changes were something that my colleagues and I used to try and avoid at all cost. They messed up plans, took people away from their assigned tasks, and often required rework or created wasted effort.

At the same time, we all knew that stakeholders would have ridiculous questions that they would want answered about proposed changes that would either require massive amounts of analysis or complete guesswork—and often both. If we could avoid considering a change request, we would—every time.

Clearly things have changed, if you’ll pardon the pun. Today, virtually every project is approved with the expectation that there will be changes needed at some point. Often that’s consciously built into the process by approving an initiative with incomplete scope so that adjustments have to be made during delivery. At other times, the constraints approved on day one are acknowledged to be uncertain and subject to evolution as more is learned about the market, the technology being used, or any of a multitude of other factors.

But that doesn’t mean that change is easier to deal with. The process of change management has been simplified in many cases, reducing the amount of overhead required to submit, review and approve change requests—but there is still going to be disruption to the team, and that’s …


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