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One of the biggest trends in project management currently is change management, which has seen many PMs and organizations across the world upskilling and adopting it across their projects’ processes. Though this can often lead to the obvious question, just what is change management? The basic answer is that it describes all approaches taken in order to support organizational change for individuals, teams and organizations.

What is change management?

Some of the common reasons that change management is required can be:

  • Changes in customer habits
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • New international trading realities
  • Dealing better with change requests
  • Reacting to new competition
  • Adapting to technological change

Change management is geared towards making project processes more flexible and capable of dealing with predicted risks or unforeseen events. One of the biggest components of the change management process is learning how to cope with change requests, but what exactly are they?

What are change requests?

Change requests are when a stakeholder, either a client or an internal team or department, requests a change to the processes or deliverables that had already been decided upon in the project scope. They are relatively common across all industries but can still cause stress and hassle when submitted. They do not necessarily require more work and may even come within scope and help a project to finish earlier, however the problem can lie in the approach to change and shifting direction mid-project, both in the actual deliverables and mentally in the minds of your team.

So how can a project manager make their team more adaptable and capable of handling change requests? Here are some steps to implement while dealing with them.

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Get as much information as possible

Before being able to make a clear decision, find out exactly what is being asked for. Ask the client or department who submitted the request to provide as much information as possible for what they want to change and what the business case is for it.

Assess whether the request is within the scope

If the change requested is a like-to-like swap or that certain deliverables be cut from the project plan it naturally makes it a lot easier to decide on or implement a change request. Figuring out whether the request is inside or outside the scope of the project is a key decision-making factor.

Determine what’s required to make the change request happen

Once you have gathered all key information on what change is actually being requested, the next step is to get the relevant team members together to discover what it will take for the changes to be implemented. This should cover the hard facts of the request, such as the increases to cost and time required, additional human resources that will need to be taken on and possible technology adaptations to be implemented.

Decide whether to approve or reject the change request

Finally, a decision has to be made. This should be logical, detailed and presented as a business case matter. It’s important to remember that the answer can be negative, the project plan has already been set so there is no obligation to change it, especially if it will possibly lead to deadline delays, cost overruns or complete project failure.

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