Change Control Process in Project Management: What, How and Why


6 min read

Change Control Process in Project Management: What, How and Why

Many projects face changes at some point during their life cycle. Although changes are often necessary, it can be rather difficult to implement them on the fly. That’s why we need a change control process – a plan to evaluate changes, their importance, and how to implement them.
In this article, we briefly cover the basics of the Change Control Process – what it is and what are the steps of it.

You will learn that is an important part of both Project Management and Risk Management.

Let’s have a look.

1. What is Change Control Process in Project Management?

It is an integral part of project management.

The change control process in project management defines the steps that must be taken to change the initial project’s scope. It includes documenting, reviewing, improving, and approving before implementing the changes.

It enables project teams to modify the project’s scope by following specified controls and policies.

2. Why is the change control process important?

As we mentioned, change is inevitable. But when it comes to projects, changes cost – money and time.

Change Control Process is important because it secures the baselines of a project, and only important changes are made, after careful checks, controls, agreements, and communication between the parties involved.

Thus said, Change Control Process ensures the successful implementation of changes to an ongoing project, with a minimized risk of going over budget or missing deadlines.

Also, as time progresses, changes are more difficult and costly to implement, so project management needs working processes to handle them on time.

Ok, so far so good. Now we know what Change Control Process is and why it is important. But what do we mean when we say process? What is this process about? This process is not different from many others and it consists of several steps. This brings up the next question:

3. What are the steps involved in Change Control Process?

The usual Change Control Process steps are:

  1. The change originates – here a need for change occurs
  2. Change Request – a submission is made, outlining the need for change from the original project’s scope
  3. Review Change Request and Impact Assessment is made
  4. Change is approved – after careful evaluation, the authorized members of the team decide whether to implement a change or not
  5. Implementing changes – at this stage, the change request is approved, and the team is trained (if necessary) to implement the change into the project
  6. Review and reporting – at this stage, the person responsible for the Risk Management and Change Control Process reports to the stakeholders and reviews if everything is according to the newly made agreement for this change.

In the following visualization, you can see common steps in Change Control Process and their order, or simply put, the usual Change Process Flow:

*CR means Change Request – a formally submitted, used to track all stakeholder requests (such as new features, enhancement requests, defects, changed requirements, etc.)

As a bonus, we’d like to give you some tips on effective change control. Hopefully, you can quickly implement them in your project management.

4. Tips on effective Change Control Process

Tip 1: Clearly define the change request

You have to make sure, that everyone on board understands the change requests.

Sometimes an e-mail is enough, but other times appropriate documentation in the form of a formal document might be required.

The first step is to evaluate how complex the requested change is and how to present, explain and coordinate it to all involved.

In the change request the following information must be included:

  • Statement of the need; actual request to be evaluated
  • Reason for the request – what are the possible consequences for the customer if the change is not made
  • Conditions of success – the customers define what they expect from the team
  • Expected completion – the requester should state a due date for the change(s)
  • Expected value – again, an explanation of how the change will affect the overall project

Tip 2: Reviewing the Change Request

Reviewing the Change Request is important because of two main reasons:

  • You need to present the problem to the team, preferably in a meeting, and discuss it with them
  • Your team will have to evaluate the impacts of a change and discuss them with you (or whoever is in charge of the Change Control Process)

You also need this review, so that you can come back to the customer with your team’s feedback and expected turnaround for the possible changes.

Tip 3: Create a Response Document Template

As we mentioned, you need to get back to your client with an answer to the Change Request.

It will save you a lot of time to have a template, which you can easily fill in and send.

The response document template should include:

  • Proposed solution
  • Proposed timeline
  • Impacts on the project – explain how resources, time, and budget would change if the change is made; explain how the quality of the project would be affected
  • The expiration date for proposed changes – this sets a timeframe for the client to respond to your proposed solutions; as we mentioned earlier, change needs to come on time, and communication should be faster, or there can be further impacts on the project (cost, time, other complications)

Tip 4: Have it approved

Assuming you received a timely response from the client, now is the time to prepare a list of sponsors, stakeholders, and key decision-makers and get their approval officially.

That was our last tip on the effective change control process and we hope that you can use these tips in your work.

Following Change Control Process provides consistency and helps in managing expectations for a project. Ideally, would keep your team and the client happy, clearly understanding what is happening in the lifecycle of a project and why.

Undoubtedly, Change Control Process is a crucial piece of successful coordination and communication in a project.

If you like project management-related articles, which are easy to grasp, check our other blog posts as well:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay on top of your communication game

Customer stories, tips, and our opinions on everything in between - all in one place