Ask any project manager and they will probably tell you they aren’t a huge fan of change. Change to a project means the potential for resource relocation, budget mishaps and delayed deliverables. Project managers spend a lot of time allocating these pieces of a project and having to rework the plan can be messy and time consuming at best, detrimental the budget and company at worst.
Changes can be major or minor and effect projects accordingly. Major changes include things that will cause your team to miss major milestones and due dates or require additional funding. Minor changes are bound to occur in most projects since they rarely run 100% according to plan from start to finish. These can include small due date extensions and will not have an impact on the project budget.
It is important to have an evaluation process in place for the change requests that come in. Setting these guidelines will ensure that everyone is on the same page and responds to change requests unanimously. A few important questions that a project manager uses to evaluate can include:
Is there a way around this change?
Will this require more money?
Are all stakeholders that are involved on board?
Will this effect contracts without outside vendors?
Are the negatives of this change worth the outcome?
Having a standard set of questions to ask themselves, as well as a plan for how to react to each answer will help the project manager take charge of change requests and issues as they arise. You must also plan for who is allowed to approve these changes within your organization. This can be determined by changes or issues in general, or by level – if they are major or minor. It is important that the right person properly assess the change or issue before moving forward.
When changes and issues do crop up, it is important to keep a log. Not only to keep track of them, but to hold people accountable. Logs allow for members of the project to communicate about the issue to ensure that it is addressed and resolved efficiently. Without a defined change process or issues log you risk these project needs getting lost in the shuffle and not handled on time or sometimes not at all.
Issues can come in a variety of styles including technical, resource related, process roadblocks or changes to the project scope. Once you figure out the type of issue you can begin next steps to resolve it. (Along with logging the type of issue, make sure you are logging who discovered or reported it and when.) Now that the issue has been identified, the project manager or whoever is responsible for making the final decision must assign a resource to resolve the issue in order to keep the project on its path. This also requires creating a new target end date if necessary.
Using a SaaS PM Solution to Streamline Change and Issue Processes
Having a SaaS PM solution like Clarizen will allow project managers to respond quickly and accurately to project changes and issues. Having a process in place will tell managers how to react to get their project and team back on track, including who needs to know about it, how a decision will be reached and the necessary changes that will have to be made to the project as a whole.
A project management software that includes a standard plan for change requests and issue management can alleviate a significant amount of stress for project managers. Enabling this kind of process allows your team to respond and react to the change request in the allotted time while staying within the budget. The ability to track and manage all change requests, tickets or issues you receive in a timely and well planned strategy is crucial to keeping all stakeholders happy. If you are using Clarizen SaaS PM solution any change requests or issues automatically include relevant details such as:
- The name of the person who requested the change
- A description of the change that should take place
- Priority and timeframes
- All pertinent email discussions, notes or attachments
Essentially, all of the critical pieces of the change or issue are rolled right into one convenient place.
Without having control over changes that are requested, the project scope becomes a liquid entity that can slip right through the cracks. The ability to manage change to the project scope well is critical to reaching goals and speaks to the abilities and strengths of a project manager. Changes to a project are almost guaranteed, whether major or minor, and having standards and processes in place ensure they are handled properly is a must. SaaS PM solutions allow you to make real-time decisions about priorities, resources, budgets and timelines.
One major tip for any project manager is to track the progress of the change or issue resolution. The issue has been acknowledged and the change requested, now it is time to follow through with the resources involved to ensure everything stays on track until completion. Report any bumps in the road to necessary stakeholders to avoid surprises when snags are unavoidable. Keep an issues and changes log; assess the effect it will have on the project, assign resources to keep things moving forward and follow through until the project is complete to properly respond to changes and issues that arise.