Every project that you and I have ever and will ever manage depends on people’s skills.
The sponsor relies on you as the project manager to successfully lead the team, you rely on the team to have what it takes to create all the deliverables at the required quality, and the end user -- the recipient of what you and the team deliver -- must have the skills to use the product you finally give them.
But what if the skills don’t match up to the tasks at hand? What if a team member is lacking a skill? What if the technology is so new and different that your users will have a hard time with it? The answer is of course coaching, mentoring and training.
And there is no one better than Susanne Madsen (www.susannemadsen.com -- www.linkedin.com/in/susanne-madsen-1134312) who coaches and mentors project managers into project leaders to come on the program and help us understand these three similar yet different activities.
There is no doubt in my mind that you have heard the term lessons learned before.
It is mentioned extensively throughout A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide), I teach it as part of my Project Management Professional (PMP)® training lessons and my favorite search engine gives me over 51,000 results for the search term “lessons learned in project management”. In fact, as an experienced project manager you have probably participated or even chaired one or two lessons learned meetings yourself on your own projects.
But let’s consider the bigger picture around lessons learned. What process do we follow? What management techniques are there for lessons learned? Are all documented lessons learned equally valuable?
These questions need answers. And so I’m happy to welcome Elizabeth Harrin (www.girlsguidetopm.com -- www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethharrin/ - ) who has the answers for us!
Are you using an adaptive life cycle to manage your projects? You know, something that falls under the general umbrella of Agile like Scrum, XP, Kanban or DSDM?
And if your answer to this question is yes, then think about when exactly you started using these approaches, because that date says a lot about you and your organization. If you started 20 or more years ago then you can consider yourself to be an innovator, but if you started just recently you are a laggard. (And just in case you are wondering, I would put myself in the middle with what is called the "early majority".)
But no matter when you started your journey into Agile it might be interesting to know how many of us out there are actually using Agile on our projects. And according to Joseph Flahiff (www.whitewaterprojects.com -- www.linkedin.com/in/josephflahiff) there are more than you would think.
How many more? He doesn’t have an exact number, but then again nobody knows how many waterfall-based projects there are either. However, studies done on this subject and a number of other indicators lead him to believe that Agile is now the new normal. The number of Agile projects is massive, which is just one more reason to also get started with your PMI-ACP Exam Prep
It is a question that we hear often from our PMP® exam prep students in the discussion forums. For example, Gunaseelan asked, “What all are the project documents which requires approved change requests to get updated?” Housam had a similar question.
Let’s face it: keeping on top of project management paperwork can be a big job. There are documents to create, get signed off and updated. And then there’s finding the information again when you need to revise or use it… A project manager is never far away from a document!
What I want to focus on in this article is the process for updating documents and also include some tips for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)defines a change request as a formal proposal to modify any document, deliverable or baseline. But does that really mean that you need to do a change request every time you want to add a new risk to your risk log? That would be really time consuming and add a lot of extra administrative overhead to the job of updating project management documents.
In this article we’ll dive into when you need a change request to update a project document and when you don’t.
And unfortunately it isn’t a totally straightforward answer!
What Change Requests Are For
Change requests are there to help you keep control of the document. They ensure that if an important project document is going to change, everyone knows what that change is and how it could affect other project assets.
For example, if you update your Resource Management Plan, that might have an implication for the project schedule or budget.
Change requests bring transparency to this process and also a degree of formality. This can help stop stakeholders asking for lots of little changes; the fact they know they have to go through a formal process might make them think twice!
What The PMBOK® Guide Says
So what does the PMBOK® Guide say about the documents that are subject to this process? Actually, not a great deal.
The PMBOK® Guide doesn’t clarify the documents that require a change request, and equally it doesn’t say which documents don’t require one. It just says “any document” but if you have worked in projects you’ll know that this isn’t what happens in real life.
Change Requests Are Required For Controlled Documents
There is useful guidance in the PMBOK® Guide about the types of documents that we have on projects. This is split between “controlled” documents and everything else — the “non-controlled” documents.
Basically, the Project Management Plan (with all its subsidiary plans and baselines) is considered to be a controlled document, while all the rest are non-controlled documents.
That gives us a handy rule of thumb. If a change would require a modification to any of the Project Management Plan documents (controlled documents), then a formal change request should be issued.
This should be submitted to the Change Control Board (CCB) for consideration and possibly approval. However, if the change would only affect a non-controlled document, such as the issue log (for example, because you were updating it with a new issue), then no change request is required.
However, you will have to exercise your professional judgement. The milestone list, for example, is a project document that might not fall within your Project Management Plan. If a change to a milestone was approved, it would likely require the project schedule to be amended, which would most likely require a change to the schedule baseline, which is part of the Project Management Plan. The Project Management Plan is a controlled document, so that particular change would require a change request.
The trick is thinking through what needs to happen at every stage. While the first document that gets updated might be non-controlled, there is possibly an impact on another document that should also be taken into consideration.
What About The Project Charter?
The Project Charter is not a controlled document and it doesn’t change very often. However, instead of editing the text within the document if you do need to modify it for any reason, you can add an addendum. This is a short section at the back that details the updates or changes within the document.
It’s useful to keep this separate as it gives you the ability to see what has changed from the original Charter.
When You Don’t Need A Change Request
Generally, you don’t need a change request to update a document that is not considered “controlled”, like the Project Charter.
There is also one situation when you don’t need a change request to update your Project Management Plan. That’s when the plan is still being developed. If your plan is not yet approved, you don’t need to get a change request approved in order to modify any part of it. Phew! At this point in the project when you are putting the plan together it is likely to change often, so that’s one less thing to worry about!
The act of getting your Project Management Plan approved is the first sign off for this document, which creates the baseline. Any future changes are effectively deviations from the original document that was approved, and they would need a change request so that the impact can be understood and acted on.
PMP® Exam Questions on Updating Documents
Questions about which documents need to be updated, and which would need a change request, could come up in your PMP Exam.
The correct answer will heavily depend on the question and the context in which the question is asked. Therefore, we always recommend that students make reasonable assumptions based on all the available information in the question. Then select the best answer from the choices given. It will not always be the ideal answer, but it should be the best option from those provided.
Remember to think about the implications of a change on a project. Frequently, if a change request is issued and approved, different types of project documents are likely to be updated. Think of how many times you can see that ‘Project Documents Update’ is one of the outputs from one of the processes — it’s a lot!
Project management documents help to keep your project under control. Managing them, updating them and ensuring the right versions are available to the right people goes a long way to reducing the headaches on a project. Hopefully these tips will help you manage your documentation, whether a change request is required or not.
Episode 395: How to Pass the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam
Categories: PMI-ACP Exam
This is another episode where I’m asking: Are you currently studying or thinking about studying for your PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam? Wonderful. That’s what we are going to be talking about.
In this interview you are going to meet Yazmine Darcy (https://www.linkedin.com/in/yazminedarcy). Yazmine is not only one of my students and coworkers, she is also the project manager in charge of developing the sample exam questions that we use in our PMI-ACP Simulator. And so, if you not only want to know how to prepare for your own PMI-ACP Exam but also want to hear about all the work that goes into creating one of the training tools you could be using, then you have come to the right place.
As you know, the rules of all Project Management Institute (PMI)® exams are such that we are not allowed to discuss specific questions from the exam. But we can discuss her overall experience, general thoughts on the process and her recommendations to you. So you can look forward to an experience and tip filled interview on how to prepare for and pass your PMI-ACP Exam.