Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is Integrated Change Control?

     Integrated Change Control is a project management tool used to manage the impact of change on the project through the submission, review, approval of change in its many forms (PMI, 2008, p. 93). This Project Integration Management process is carried out during all phases of the project.

     Change Control requires careful attention by the project management team, and diligence on that part of internal and external project team members.  All team members must adhere to the process for requesting changes to the agreed-upon project scope.  Once the project scope has been identified, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) created, and the team set about implementation of the project, what seems like a "simple tweak" may cost the team time and money, derailing dependent tasks downstream.  Thus the project manager creates a process which encourages people wishing to make changes to the project to complete a written request and to explain the value to the project and the potential drawbacks.  This is the case even if the change is initiated by the team itself (PMI, p. 94).

     Once change request is submitted, the review committee will examine it.  They may ask the submitter for additional information or context, or interview the team to understand the potential risks and impact of the change.  Each change is documented in the change log, and the approval status recorded.  A configuration management tool may be used for the purpose of receiving, sorting, tracking, and storing these requests (PMI, p. 95).

     The approval of the change opens the next stage gate to update the project as needed.  The project manager integrates the change into the schedule, updates the appropriate documents including:  project management plan, schedules, WBS, communication plan, risk plan, and so on as needed (PMI, p. 96).  

     At project close, the change requests should be reviewed by the team.  These changes may indicate areas of poor project planning, and can serve as teaching tools for the team who may undertake similar projects again.  With added insight, planning for new projects may become more refined and accurate.

The important points of this process may be summarized as follows:

1. All changes to the defined project scope must be submitted in a change request.

2. All change requests are submitted to a central repository of requests, which are tracked whether approved or denied.

3. Change requests are reviewed in context of work done to-date, and work to be done, with benefits and risks weighed.

4. Approved changes are treated as added project scope, documented appropriately and completely integrated into the project as with any other deliverable or task.

5. Changes are reviewed at project close to help the team understand how to predict them and prevent scope creep on the next project or iteration.

PMI. (2008). A guide to the project management book of knowledge, 4th ed. Newtown Square, PA:  Project Management Institute.

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