How To Manage Change
Learn how to manage change on your projects, by implementing the change management best practices described in this video.
Hi, I’m Devin Deen, Content Director here at projectmanager.com. Hi. Thank you for joining me in today’s whiteboard session, where we’re going to talk about how to manage scope change on your project. Now, what’s really important to remember is the best way to manage scope change is not to do it yourself. Get your entire project team to help you with that.
What I find most effective in making that happen is actually getting that project team up to speed with the entire aspects of the project, in terms of what you’re meant to deliver, so that’s your scope of work; how you’re meant to deliver it, which is like your approach; the key deliverables that you have to produce for the client and what those acceptance criteria are; as well as the time frames to deliver all the deliverables to that client.
If your entire project team is 100% on board with what it is you’re doing and the extent of it, then they’ll be the ones who are best in place to detect any changes or potential deviations to that scope. You can’t do it yourself as being that scope cop-out there, you’ve got to get your agents out there working on your behalf. The best way that I like to do that is like I said before, get them to become familiar with the scope of what you’re doing.
One of the key ways to do that is get them to read the statement of work. Look at the project schedule, and be familiar with the functional components of what you’re delivering. So that might be reading the requirements document, and certainly the acceptance criteria.
Any new team member that joins a project after it’s started certainly needs to go through an induction process where they’re reading all this documentation and becoming 100% familiar with what it is your projects are delivering. That way they can detect those potential scope changes for you and bring them back so that you can manage them effectively.
Next, you want those project team members to defend the scope. Look. It’s great that your client has got your trust and confidence and is asking you for new work. But ultimately, you’re there as a project manager to deliver a particular piece of work by a particular time frame. If your project team isn’t defending that for you on a day-to-day basis, you’re going to be out there fighting fires, trying to rope the client back into realistic expectations about what your team can deliver.
I’m not saying don’t do extra work. What I’m saying is when the potential scope item comes up, you’ve got to manage that effectively. Initially, what you want your project team doing is defending the scope. They shouldn’t say “no” fiercely to the client. But what they should say when a client asks for a new bit of functionality or a scope change is, “Hey, Mr. Client or Mrs. Client, that sounds like a really good idea. Why don’t I get my project manager to give you a call tomorrow and discuss that further?”
That’s a really polite way of saying “no”, but certainly acknowledging that what the client wants is valid, and that you as a project manager can then manage that scope item with the client at a later time.
Certainly, you need to use a change request process. Don’t informally agree on a handshake or a water cooler conversation to change the scope for your project. Use a process. Establish a process where you are doing impact assessments for that particular scope item, getting that reviewed perhaps by a steering committee or a core leadership team, and then planning that new bit of work into the ongoing baseline schedule that you’ve already developed.
It’s really easy off-the-cuff to say, “Oh, sure. We can do that so and so by this date.” But really, what you need to do is plan that in and get that formal approval. What’s really critical is if you don’t get that formal approval and if your team does that scope work without getting it, there is nine times out of ten you are not going to get paid for doing that extra work. In that way, it’s incredibly important to make sure your team is trained on not doing any new scope items before you actually get permission.
In this game, getting permission is much better than getting forgiveness, and I can guarantee you that most clients are very reluctant to pay out to your project team additional money for work that they didn’t officially authorize you to do. So, make sure that your project team members are certainly trained not to work on any new scope items unless they’ve been officially blessed and approved by the client.
The key to successfully managing scope changes on your project is to actually get your whole team to help you detect those potential scope changes and to religiously defend the scope of your project. Then when they bring those scope items back to you as a project manager, you can go back to the client, engage with them, and effectively set the expectations about what can and can’t be done through an effective change request process.
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