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What Is Change Control in Project Management?

Project management change control is the system a team uses to make major changes to a previously approved project. This can include budget additions and subtractions, deadlines or goalposts, and even new hiring as project needs evolve over time. Project change control ensures that all stakeholders have a say (or can at least agree on a process for someone else to carry out) for how foundational project elements can be revised when needed. It saves time, streamlines communication, and leads to a repeatable process for effective change. 

What is change control process in project management?

Change control process in project management helps intake, monitor, and resolve change requests. Often depicted as an action flow chart, this process takes place over a predetermined amount of time (the faster the better as long as accuracy is maintained) and sets up a step by step process for dealing with major structural changes. Overall, the project change control process makes sure that no matter what happens, the project will continue to move forward without leaving anyone out of the loop.

How to achieve integrated change control in project management

  1. Create a change control system: Define what is and is not a change request. For example, adding an extra step to a project phase that won’t take too much time and won’t affect your schedule will not require a change request, but an extra step that does affect the deadline will. Decide how requests will be submitted, approved, and updated.
  2. Develop change control procedures: Designate a leader in this process to communicate with stakeholders, oversee progress, and keep everyone informed. They’ll also come up with predetermined responses to change requests to help keep the process moving forward. Also, be sure to include an analysis of how the proposed change will affect budget, timeline, risks, stakeholders, customers, and team members.
  3. Write down the impact of possible changes: Use a chart to map out the area the change request will impact. Include budget, schedule, resources, and quality. Then, define the change and any initial questions you or team members have about it. After, calculate impact using KPIs that correspond to each area. For example, if the budget is impacted, use dollars that would be lost or made if the change is approved to determine the potential outcome.
  4. List out all the tasks associated with the project: If you haven’t done this already, now is the time. Review the change request against the task list and determine whether or not there are conflicts. You may even find significant overlap, which would consolidate or even eliminate some of your existing workload if the change goes through.
  5. Draft templates: Templatizing your change process will save you time communicating each new step. It will also help other team members follow a consistent procedure if more than one person oversees the process. Create a template for intake, processing, approval, and next steps.

If you'd like more information on this topic, connect the dots with our guide to the change management process for more actionable advice.