Project Management

The Need for Multiple Change Management Approaches

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, change management was seen as one of the cornerstone processes in the discipline—as it is today. But it was also seen as something to be avoided at all costs because of the disruption it would cause.

Changes were almost always initiated from outside of the project team, usually by the customer or sponsor. They required formal change requests to be completed, which would then be logged in a change register and assigned to a team member for analysis. That analysis would focus on whether the change was possible; what the impact would be on other project elements, particularly the triple constraint; and so on.

After a few days (maybe more than a week), a recommendation would be made to the steering committee, which would ultimately approve or reject the request. If approved, another few days were spent updating the plan and shifting resources to adjusted assignments. Eventually, things would find the new normal—until the next change request was received.

It wasn’t so much change management as change control; it seemed (and often was) geared toward minimizing the number of change requests approved. In fact, ideally it would limit the number of change requests submitted. Stakeholders were frequently cautioned by the PM that even asking for a change would impact the project because it would require a team member to be …

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