What is a Change Request?
A change request is a proposal to alter a product or system, often brought up by the client or another team member. During a project, this can happen when a client wants to change or alter the agreed upon deliverables.
Once a change request has been made, the entire team should be informed and they can come to an agreement about how to satisfy the request without using unnecessary resources. There are three important questions to ask about any change request:
- What is the change?
- What is the benefit?
- How important is it to you?
5 Steps for Managing Change Requests
There are a lot of obstacles to overcome when trying to deliver on a project. A change request will often come up throughout the course of most projects so it is a good idea to have a plan for how to handle them ahead of time.
Often, change requests are necessary and can offer many benefits. Managing this process in an effective way can allow for greater internal communication, efficiency, and alignment with overall business goals. Here are five tips on effectively managing change requests:
Request for any supporting materials
You want the person who is making the change to be as specific as possible. Ask that person to put their request in writing and provide any supporting materials that might be helpful.
Have that person articulate why they are requesting this change and what the anticipated benefit of their change request is. This will help your team determine whether or not the change request is worth the effort.
Determine whether the change request is in inside or outside the scope
It is a good idea to consider what the scope of the change request is. If your team chooses to implement this change, what new requirements will this put on the project? You will want to consider all aspects of the project that will be impacted by implementing this change request.
If the request is outside of the scope, costing and timeline will be presented and approval is needed before the work commence.
Have your team assess the priority of the change request
Before your team implements any changes to the project you should consider any possible risks. What is the expected benefit of the change being proposed? Is this change request the result of an actual need to respond to a change in the marketplace or would it simply be nice to have?
You can consider the opinion of the person who proposed the change request, but at the same time, use common sense. The client might not know what’s in their own best interests.
Have clearly defined guidelines for evaluating the urgency as there may be varying opinions amongst team members.
Approve or reject the change request
Now that you know how important (or unimportant) the change request is and understand the impact it will have on the project, the team can either approve or reject the request.
Different organizations will have different ways of going about the approval process. Generally, a change request that will require minimal additional work can be approved within the team. Whereas a change request that would require a month’s worth of additional work may require executive approval.
Decide on a course of action going forward
If the change request is approved then the project deliverables will need to be updated. This can include plans and schedules, business process documents, and the requirements documents.
Once these updates have been made, the project manager can communicate the new course of action to everyone who will be impacted. Now you can delegate the necessary tasks to the people in charge of implementing these new changes.