Chartered Project Professional – Competence 2: Change Control

If you are already a project professional with a track record of managing complex projects, programmes or portfolios and can demonstrate experience in 10 mandatory and 2 elective competencies then you could be ready to become a Chartered Project Professional. You will also require advanced technical knowledge and understanding of the theory of current practices and methods; and be committed to continuing professional development and ethical working practices.

Change Control is one of the 10 mandatory competencies for those hoping to gain a Chartered Project Professional accreditation.

Potential candidates must be able to demonstrate experience that satisfies the specific Professional Practice assessment criteria. They will also at interview need to demonstrate their advanced technical knowledge and understanding against the stated Technical Knowledge assessment criteria.

Chartered Project Professional Professional Practice Assessment Criteria

With reference to the projects you will have described in your project overviews, you will need to demonstrate 4 out of 8 of the following criteria:

1.     Establish, implement and maintain an appropriate change control process;

2.     Capture and record proposed changes to the agreed scope and objectives of the project;

3.     Determine the high-level impact of proposed changes to the scope and objectives of a project including reference to relevant sources;

4.     Use a trend analysis to improve the future performance of projects;

5.     Reach justified recommendations on the approval, rejection or deferral of proposed changes to a project;

6.     Update plans and schedules to reflect approved changes to a project

7.     Ensure configuration management is used for updated plans and schedules;

8.     Communicate implemented changes to relevant stakeholders.

Establish, implement and maintain an appropriate change control process;

How did you establish a change control process? Was it specific to a project or part of an overall project management method, perhaps stipulated by your organisation? Was the process documented formally? If not, how was it presented and communicated? What software systems were established to support the process? Was it a simple excel system or a more complex change control specific piece of software? It may of course simply be a paper-based system if that is appropriate.

Capture and record proposed changes to the agreed scope and objectives of the project;

How were the changes captured? Who was responsible for this, was this the role of the project manager, project support team or work package managers? What mechanism was used to record the change? How did you manage duplicate change requests, where the same change is raised on multiple occasions or by multiple people? You must be specific about where these things were logged and how that log was processed later.

Determine the high-level impact of proposed changes to the scope and objectives of a project including reference to relevant sources;

How was this high-level evaluation done? Who did it, what support did you have from specialists in planning or cost evaluation? What references were used to produce an estimate of the impact, did this include industry norms and rates? How was the evaluation resourced? Was the evaluation done by the project team or was a separate team established to evaluate the impact of the change? Who paid for the evaluation work?

Use a trend analysis to improve the future performance of projects?

A trend analysis can be used to determine whether the potential changes are growing or diminishing in number, what effect they are having on the project work and whether this is sustainable. This could include tracking the impact of changes on the project cost and schedule baselines.  On a large project this could include trends in the performance of the change control process, such as the number of open changes, changes raised per month, changes closed per month.

Reach justified recommendations on the approval, rejection or deferral of proposed changes to a project;

How was the change decision reached and who was responsible? What arrangements were put in place to ensure timely decisions on changes? For example, was a change control board (or similar decision process) established? What happened to changes that were not enacted, how did the requester know and how did you deal with that.

Update plans and schedules to reflect approved changes to a project

What mechanisms were in place to update and re-issue the baseline plans. How were the schedules and budgets updated because of the change? How were updated plans communicated to the project team. What was the re-approval process for them?

Ensure configuration management is used for updated plans and schedules

To what extend were the plans under configuration management. How were the version numbers for the plans updated? How were the approved changes cross referenced to the updated plans and budgets? Who approved the updated plans and how were these reissued?

Communicate implemented changes to relevant stakeholders.

How were changes communicated to key stakeholders? This is especially difficult in multi-site operations? How did you make sure everyone was working to the same plan and budget?

Chartered Project Professional Technical Knowledge Assessment Criteria

For Route 3 candidates, potential candidates must be able to demonstrate their ability to:

1.     Critically evaluate the features and benefits of using a change control process

2.     Analyse ways in which to collate and record information from stakeholders;

3.     Evaluate the extent to which trend analysis adds value to the management of change within a project;

4.     Critically evaluate methods of impact assessment and options analysis in relation to change in a project;

5.     Evaluate the importance of responding appropriately to recommendations relating to the scope and objectives of the project;

6.     Analyse the importance of managing approved change within a configuration management system.

If you have been involved in project management for any length of time you will recognise the above assessment criteria as being part of a formal change control process. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the main key elements of the Technical Knowledge Assessment Criteria.

Change Control Process

Here are the typical stages of a change control process, which covers the Professional Practice Assessment Criteria.

Submission of a change request and record on a change log
Basic information required includes:

·       Change Request number/identifier

·       Who raised the change request

·       Description of change

·       Date

·       Status (approved, rejected or deferred)

·       Impact on schedule, budget, quality, benefits and risks

Initial Review

A short, focused review of requested changes to determine if it is feasible and if it is supported by most of the stakeholders.

Detailed Assessment

Specifications are analysed to understand the impact of the potential change (on time, cost and scope), using trend analysis and options analysis, so that an informed decision on whether to approve the change may be made.

Recommendation & Decision

The project sponsor is usually responsible for making the final decision to include the change or not, or possibly to defer it to a later date or phase of the project. Stakeholders and the project manager can be included in discussions at this stage of the process.

Modification of Plans

All schedules, budgets, risk registers and other documentation must be formally updated using a configuration management system.

Communicate the Change

Ensure all stakeholders are aware of the implementation of the change and of the latest versions of all relevant documentation.

Implementation of Change

Carry out the tasks to put the approved change in place.

These steps will be well known to the experienced project manager, how might you use this and portray it in a manner suitable to demonstrate the technical assessment criteria?

1.     Critically Evaluate the Features And Benefits Of Using A Change Control Process

Whilst every change control process includes the same generic steps, there are many change control models in use, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You need to consider how mature was the change control process in your organisation. At what level of maturity is your change management process operating

At level 0 the change control is rarely used in a consistent way.

At level 1 change control achieves its goals in an ad-hoc manner. This is the key factor regardless of any specific attributes. Level 1 represents an organisation that manages to achieve goals through the work of a few talented individuals.

At level 2 change control are generally achieved using competent people. Change control is effective but could be more efficient.

At level 3 the organisation co-ordinates change control to achieve efficiencies and ensure that good practice is consistent and embedded in the organisational culture.

What were the strengths and weaknesses of the process and how could these have been improved.

2.     Analyse Ways In Which To Collate And Record Information From Stakeholders

Chartered Project Professional assessors will expect professional project managers to recognise the importance of not only gathering and recording information from stakeholders but also collecting the right data, in enough detail. The project managers need to be pro-active in understanding how the needs are changing, what they can do to make the process more effective through helping stakeholders present their requests. This means understanding and enacting the different methods (written documentation, one-to-one interviews, group discussions etc) and their effectiveness in fully detailing a requested change.

Professional project managers should also understand that stakeholders may have preferred methods of communication and those methods may vary among different stakeholders, projects or organisations. Consider which best practice approaches you have used for collating and recording information from stakeholders on different types of project to obtain the information you need for the change control process to be successful.

Describe the approaches which you have used on past or current projects and how change requests are collated and recorded in an organisation in which you have worked.

Draw on your own experience of, for example, the advantages of supplementing written documents with group discussions or one-to-one interviews.

Demonstrate your understanding of the problems faced in data collection such as the practicalities of documenting information whilst, at the same time, interviewing stakeholders, for instance. Discuss how you have resolved such issues.

In particular be clear about behavioural aspect of change control. Stakeholders may not base their decisions on rational judgements, they may be vested in a particular approach, or be over-assertive about a particular requirement and how these behavioural factors affect change control decisions.

3.     Evaluate The Extent To Which Trend Analysis Adds Value To The Management Of Change Within A Project

Potential candidates are expected to have a full understanding of trend analysis and use of this analytical technique to use historical data to predict possible future outcomes within the typical project constraints of cost and schedule. Past trend analysis charts showing KPIs for the change control process. For example, the number of new changes raised in a month, the number of changes closed in a month, the average time to process a change request. Are all good measures that can indicate how the change control process is performing?

4.     Critically Evaluate Methods Of Impact Assessment And Options Analysis In Relation To Change In A Project

Here you may want to consider a key change for one of your projects. Did the analysis of options and the consideration of the change have a positive impact on the project outcome? Did the analysis of the impact of time, cost and quality really capture the full impact of the change. Was the risk to successful delivery affected by the change? How could the assessment of impact and options have been improved? What would you do this differently in future projects to make sure the assessment of impact is realistic and timely?

5.     Evaluate The Importance Of Responding Appropriately To Recommendations Relating To The Scope And Objectives Of The Project

It is likely that the majority of requested changes will have an impact on both the scope and the objectives of the project so it is important to respond in a way that fully explains how and why certain decisions are reached.

Decisions would normally be taken collaboratively by the project management team and the sponsor. Responses should, therefore, highlight the fact that it is a joint decision-making process in which:

·        historical data has been used to anticipate risks and issues

·        all possible options have been reviewed

·        the feasibility and impact of the change have been assessed

Can you identify any situations in which the recommended changes in scope and objectives have not been properly considered, how did these affect the project? Why were the changes not fully considered? What was the impact to this poor consideration on the project? How could you have approached the situations differently?

6.     Analyse The Importance Of Managing Approved Change Within A Configuration Management System

Changes are inevitably linked to configuration management because all plans, schedules, budgets and other documentation need to be updated every time a change is approved. The latest version of every document then needs to be made available to everyone who needs to use it to ensure the up-to-date version is in circulation and that time and effort is not expended working to old guidelines or specifications.

Configuration management provides control within a project and is an essential part of maintaining quality. It helps avoid errors and misunderstandings and ensures that all changes on the project are properly documented.

To what extend was change control and configuration management integrated into one process? If not, how could this integration have been improved?

Learn more about how to apply for chartered project professional at one of our application workshops.

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