Change Control Lessons learned:
1. Get it in Writing:
When the customer desires specific model/brand/specifications of and for equipment used in the project, get it in writing and signed off by the customer and the person who approves the budget. In long duration projects, and with technology that changes and advances quickly, users of the final project's outcome tend to want the latest and greatest technology installed instead of what was originally requested, project design around and budgeted for - if left unchecked and properly managed, the project will quickly spiral out of budget and schedule. The project's sponsor, the people who control the budget and really hold the power over the birth and death of the project, need to be read-in to every change that will have an adverse or beneficial effect on the budget or schedule. The real power brokers don't always know that the company's users are pressuring the project team to make changes favorable to the user's personal preferences. Circumstances like these are one of the most significant reasons for having a change control process that includes a Change Control Board (CCB).
2. Change Control Spreadsheets:
Using an Excel Spreadsheet for a Change Control Management Report. It allows for easily entered data, sharing of the file over the business intranet, sending as an email report, "print screen" shots, and the ability to use Excel formulas to tally up quantifiable data and automatically display total cost and time variances of the approved changes.
3. Regular Change Control Reviews:
Include a review of the change control tracking document during the regularly scheduled project meetings and any other briefings with the sponsor/customer. This serves multiple purposes: one, it lets everyone know where changes stand, what has been completed and how it has impacted the project in terms of scope, time, cost, and quality. It acts as a continual reminder to the team and the sponsor on how the change control and why it is necessary. If a significant number of requests for changes are coming in from users or other stakeholders, keeping the customer/sponsor/boss routinely informed will let them know that there may be a bigger problem, for example: there may have been a change to how business is done, there may have been a change/update to the technology, there may have been cost over runs or changes to available work force. All these are indications that it may be time to re-evaluate the project scope and potentially need to re-baseline the project in terms of time, cost, and quality.
Have the contract/cost authority and the sponsor as signatories on the change control form for approval or rejection. Get them to buy-in or not. Let them help you control the changes.
Sum-Up: As stated in Part One, change will happen in a project and in large and or long duration projects, a lot of changes are bound to occur: some good and some, not so good. As shown in Part Two: Lessons Learned, although change control management is the project manager's responsibility, he/she cannot do it alone or in a vacuum. To effectively and efficiently control change in the project a change control process that includes a requesting, tracking, reporting, and approval procedure is essential to the success of a well-managed project.