Project Management Guide
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What is the difference between change management and change control?

Change management and change control are closely linked terms in project management but there is a notable difference between the two. 

  • Change control: This refers to the process of evaluating a change request within an organization and deciding if it should go ahead. An individual or team will be tasked with identifying and keeping track of changes throughout the project life cycle. They will assess all change requests and choose whether or not these requests are approved or denied. In general, the goal is to minimize change unless it is deemed necessary or beneficial. Change control is what enables teams to avoid the disruption that can occur due to a project change.
  • Change management: This is what happens after a period of transformation in an organization. If a change request has been approved, this change now has to be managed. In this situation, a project manager will oversee a change management team to ensure they are correctly implementing changes into their daily practices and that the project is not disrupted. 

In a nutshell, change control is the decision to make a change, whereas change management refers to the aftermath of that decision.

Why are change management and change control important?

To quote Business Insider, “any company with an upward trajectory is going to be in a constant state of flux and change.” Change is inevitable, whether or not it is planned or unplanned. Project managers must be able to navigate any changes that come their way for two reasons:

  • If the change is positive, they need to take advantage of this and reap the potential benefits of embracing a transformation. Change control is important here as requests that will likely lead to success must be approved.
  • If the change is negative, this is where change management comes in. Project managers need to manage change quickly and effectively to ensure there is minimal risk and that the project stays on course to achieve its deliverables.

Change control vs. change management

When it comes to change management versus change control, you could argue that the former is more important than the latter. Change management is necessary for every project situation, whereas change control might not always factor in. This is most evident when unforeseen events occur and changes happen suddenly. 

What’s more, in the field of Agile project management, changes are made quickly, and there may be no time for a formal process to approve them. There is also more focus on what the customer wants, so they are the ones who decide whether or not changes are made. 

That said, change control can still be a hugely beneficial process. When done correctly, it can minimize the negative impacts of change and ensure a project stays on the right track. Therefore, the best-case scenario for successful project management is a combination of both change management and change control.

Explore Wrike to find out how to control and manage change in your projects.

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