Elements of a Change Request

In a previous post I had written extensively about the elements of a scope document. One of those elements is project change control. As a reminder this section of the scope document simply says that the scope document can be changed (amended) and defines the process for doing so.

In almost all of the small and medium business information technology projects that I have been associated with there have been usually dozens of change requests. In fact, I cannot think of a single project, however small, that there were none. I believe it would be Twilight Zone weird that any project would have no change requests. Any project worth scoping will be, by definition, one that lends itself to changes. If a customer expects that a project will not have any change requests, they are probably not a good customer to have. No one can predict the future. The comedian Dennis Leary has a great line, “Psychic Friends Network went out of business… you think they would have seen that coming.”

Please note that the language that I use for these is change request, not change order. They are, by definition, requests and may be accepted or rejected by the project sponsor (steering committee, on a larger project). A change request is simply an acknowledgment that something that affects the Triangle of Truth needs to be adjusted. In some cases there may not be any budgetary or price change. For example, during an implementation of software the controller may leave the company. The resolution for this may be to push the “go-live” date of the project out, rather than adjust the financial resources. Even if there is no change to budget this is still a change request and needs to be approved by the project sponsor.

Let’s look at the elements of a change request with some commentary.

  • Project name
  • Change number
  • Project manager name
  • Requestor name — in my view on small projects anyone on the project (customer or consultant) can request a change. In many cases the project manager would assist in the creation of the change request document and would most certainly review it before presenting it to the executive sponsor.
  • Requested date
  • Resolution requested by date — “ASAP” is not allowed at a date. ASAP means different things to the sender and receiver. To the sender it means now emphasis on the word, soon. To the receiver it means whenever emphasis on the word, possible.
  • Description of change
  • Business reason for change — This section must describe the economic benefit that the change will create. In short, if the economic benefit does not exceed the cost section below, it is unlikely the change will be accepted.
  • Impact on scope — In a sense a change request is a mini scope document. Please remember that when scope changes there must be a change to cost and/or time. See the Triangle of Truth.
  • Impact on cost — This would detail the pricing change needed to perform the change.
  • Impact on time
  • Impact on quality — Remember if quality is affected all three of the other elements (scope, cost and time) must also be affected.
  • Change accepted or rejected
  • Reason for rejection, if rejected
  • Signatures and dates

Lastly, change requests should be listed in the issues list (I guess I need to do anther post on this document) or in a separate change request log if the changes are great in number.

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