Reviewing project change requests

Review of project change requests

This week’s post is going to cover step 3 of the project change control process, Review of Project Change Request.

  1. Identify change
  2. Impact assessment
  3. Review change request
  4. Approve / reject change
  5. Implement change

You can read the overview post by visiting Overview of project change control process, where I covered the 5 core steps of project change control.

Purpose of Review

When a project has a change in scope, this can have an impact on:

  • Stakeholders to the project
  • Stakeholders dependent on or who have commitments to the project

Therefore, it is very important that all stakeholders are given the opportunity to review any proposed change and provide feedback.

If not, there is a risk that a change request will be approved that will impact one or more of the stakeholders.

For example, if the change will mean that a team will need to take on additional work because the change is to remove automation from the scope.  This team needs to be able to provide the feedback of the impact and even refuse to accept the change.

If they are not consulted as part of the impact assessment, this would probably cause major challenges when the project is delivered.  Suddenly the team will find themselves overwhelmed with additional work they were not aware would be coming into their team.

The purpose of the impact assessment is to ensure that all stakeholders can provide feedback in order that an informed decision can be made on accepting or rejecting the proposed change.

Why is this important?

If all stakeholders are not engaged, there is a very high risk that there will be negative consequences resulting from the change.

Imagine if a change had been implemented, then in 6 months when the project manager tries to obtain sign-off to go-live, only to find that stakeholders will not sign-off due to the change that was implemented.

This would potentially mean 6 months wasted time, effort and budget.  Additionally, the further cost of correcting the position.

This would not be a good position for the project manager.

Who conducts the review process?

At the simplest level, it is all stakeholders to the project.

The reality is some stakeholders have a bigger interest or closer alignment to the change than others.  Those who will be impacted by the change must review to ensure that all known impacts have been captured and assessed.

This is an important point.  Just because the impact assessment step has been completed, it does not mean all of the impacts have been captured.

There are situations that there may be upcoming changes in the strategy that the team who conducted the impact assessment were not aware.  Having the impact assessment reviewed by the manager within the area should help mitigate this risk.

A good project manager (or PMO) will no the most relevant stakeholders who need to review and will ensure that they have had the opportunity to review and feedback.

Change Request review template

While a specific change request template can be used, a better option is to include a review section within the change request / impact assessment template.

This will then allow each reviewer to provide feedback on their copy of the form.

The project manager / PMO can then review all of the individual feedback and consolidate as appropriate so all important themes and points are captured on one form.

It is also a good idea to include a section that lists all of the teams / functions who could review a change.  This can then be used to indicate who needs to review and who is not applicable (N/A).  It can even capture the name of who conducted the review for a given team and date.

The advantage of this is it reminds the person who is raising the change of all the areas that they need to engage.

A change request template and change log template can be found in the PMO Template Framework.

Impact assessment process

Very simply this is where each team reviewing the proposed change, review the proposal and known impact assessment to:

  • Ensure they understand the proposed change
  • Check information is correct to the best of their knowledge
  • Ensure that any known impact is identified and correctly explained

This process allows for any points to be clarified and missing impacts to be captured.

The aim is that the reviewer is able to fully understand in order to make a decision to agree or reject the change.

Tip: If there are many questions arising, it might be worth holding a review session with the interested parties to allow the points to be discussed.  This can be an efficient process when a number of parties have questions concerning the change.

Don’t forget to set a deadline for the reviews to be complete.  The PMO can help ensure that all reviewers complete their reviews by the deadline.  If not this will delay when the change request can go forward for formal approval.

Review completion

When all parties have reviewed and provided feedback, the change request is ready to go for formal approval.

Summary

  • Creating the project change request and conducting an impact assessment is only part of the process. You must ensure that the request and identified impacts are reviewed before the change request can be formally approved.
  • Having a structured review process will ensure that all parties have the opportunity to provide feedback on a change request.
  • The review process can save time and money by identifying challenges before a change is approved.
  • The outcome should be a change request proposal that has been reviewed by all stakeholders and captures all of the relevant information.  In turn allowing for an informed decsion to be made.