CHANGE CONTROL – VITAL TO THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROCESS

“Change control” is the term that is used for the process used to identify, document, and authorise changes to an environment and is a vitally important part of the project management process. Changes could include any item that would impact a project. It is important to consider and approve each change carefully.

Organisations undergo change daily, with varying degrees of projects to improve systems and processes. People are in the center of achieving these intended outcomes, which is why you need change control.  The change control process helps outline the process to be taken when implementing a change or improvement of systems and processes, avoiding unnecessary changes that might disrupt services and ensure the efficient use of resources.  

100% success can’t be guaranteed by any best practice, framework or methodology, but using change control can ensure that each change proposed during a project is adequately defined, reviewed, and approved before implementation. A well-structured and planned change control process comes with significant business benefits.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Avoidance or reduction of service disruptions and system down-time
  • Increased risk management
  • Higher staff productivity
  • Quicker change implementation
  • Change response is prioritised
  • And many more

A change control process should consider the following elements:

  1. Submit a Change Request (CR)

This is typically submitted by the individual, process or business unit requiring the change. A change request form refers to the document that should be completed containing necessary information for authorization and implementation. This would typically include a description, reason and expected benefits or other reasons for the change. The change is presented using the Change Request Form.

2. Review Change Request (CR) Impact

The Change Request form is then submitted to the project team, where the project manager will then consider the overall effect of the change. Procedure should be in place to ensure that all requests for change are assessed in a structured way for all possible impacts on the operational system and its functionality. It is critical to evaluate the change to assess the impact, risk, and benefits to avoid unnecessary disruption to business operations. After this assessment, the project manager recommends whether to carry out the change.

3. Final Decision and Approval

Change request will then be reviewed by an approved authority who will consider all the information provided by the project manager and person making the request.

4. Implementing a Change

Once authorised, the change request is handed over to the relevant party that will implement the change. Changes to production systems should only be made by authorized individuals in a controlled manner. A process to roll back to the previous version should be identified prior to implementing the change. The change process should include provisions that whenever system changes are implemented the associated documentation and procedures are updated accordingly.

5. Testing and User signoff

Upon completion of the change, user acceptance testing (UAT) should take place, to confirm the change has successfully achieved its objectives. Software is thoroughly tested, not only for the change itself but also for impact on elements not modified. If successfully implemented, the change request should be closed. If not successful, the remediation plan should be activated appropriately.

Change control is the discipline that guides how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change to drive organisational success and outcomes.

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