Perform Integrated Change Control

How To Successfully Perform Integrated Change Control

Managing change well can make the difference between keeping your project moving in the right direction and confusing and frustrating team members. Change can come from many directions, flooding your processes or trickling in one drop at a time. By mastering the flow of changes, you can maintain agility while keeping all stakeholders happy. Here’s a brief breakdown of what’s involved in integrated change control, how to use it, the different kinds, and how to successfully incorporate new elements.

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What Is Integrated Change Control?

Integrated change control involves examining project modification requests, assessing them, and carrying out authorized changes. This approach enables project managers to establish a well-structured framework for executing project changes and evaluating the potential impact of a suggested modification before executing it. In this way, you can make better project management decisions, regardless of the changes you end up facing.

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How Can You Use Integrated Change Control?

Using integrated change control to your advantage is more than having plans to deal with changes. Instead, integrated change control can be a powerful tool for establishing change management systems—in addition to solutions. Your organization can then use the systems in other departments or even across the entire company.

For example, you can create a change control process by combining the best change management practices. This may include a structured system people can use to submit changes for review. You can also incorporate systematic methods for approving and rejecting proposed changes.

Once these systems have been incorporated into your project management machine, other branches of your company may want to emulate them. You can also periodically review the effectiveness of your systems and make adjustments based on what you discover.

By using integrated change control in this way, you enhance your project management with systemic solutions as opposed to ad hoc, off-the-cuff, temporary adjustments.

What Are the Types of Changes You May Need to Control?

integrated change control

Even though the kinds of changes you may encounter are unlimited, generally speaking, they are likely to fall within one of the following categories:

  • Making updates to project documents. This may involve adjustments such as revising project requirements based on client feedback.
  • Implementing corrective action. In many cases, this addresses an issue and brings the project’s future performance back in line with the original project management plan. As an example, you may be asked to add more team members. In this way, you can expedite a project that may be drifting away from its timeline instead of sailing full speed ahead toward it.
  • Taking preventive action. Often stakeholders request preventive action to ensure that future performance adheres to the project management plan. For instance, stakeholders may ask you to reign in the scope of the project before it gallops out of control.
  • Conducting defect repairs. This is a very common category because it is often necessary to resolve critical problems with a product. For instance, suppose your team is developing a software solution, and a testing team discovers a bug. You could use an integrated change control system to address the issue without killing the development lifecycle.

How to Make Integrated Change Successful

1. Draft Your Project Management Blueprint

Like building a home, building software, or even baking a cake, you need to take a series of steps to boost the chances of your integrated change program attaining a positive result. Here are a few core steps you may want to consider while designing your integrated change control approach.

Integrated change control

A project management plan outlines the project’s scope, details, and deadlines. By having an initial plan in place, you can efficiently compare requested changes to the original. You can also get a better idea of how the changes can impact your project.

For instance, suppose your team is working on a project that involves building a better user interface for customers that use your mobile app. Your project management plan includes a sequence of deadlines, one for each phase.

Then a key decision-maker in your company asks you to enhance the functionality of the shopping cart checkout system. Specifically, you now need to incorporate a single sign-on user authentication process.

Instead of halting the entire project to focus on this functionality, you can use your project management plan to set a reasonable deadline for a few members of your team to incorporate this adjustment. Meanwhile, the rest of your team can continue moving toward the next milestone. In this way, drafting a project management plan reduces the impact of the change on your overall completion time—without dismissing the input of a key stakeholder.

2. Make A Changelog

You can use a changelog to log all change requests and their outcomes. What’s the benefit? Project managers can monitor the status of requested changes and see the progress of each one. In addition, you have an effective tool for reviewing previous requests to avoid repetition.

Returning to the easier checkout example above, suppose an executive makes the following observation: “Loving the app idea, but I was thinking it would be awesome if you made the checkout process faster. Can you look into that, please?”

With a changelog, you’d already have a record of the previous change, which was driven by a similar principle. You can briefly let the executive know about that change and ask if that aligns with what he or she had in mind. If it does, you can proceed as planned, saving time and effort.

3. Conduct A Change Impact Analysis

This step would happen before implementing the change. It would entail analyzing the effects of the change on the project’s schedule. It would also take into consideration budgetary constraints. A comprehensive change impact analysis would also weave in elements of risk that a change could introduce.

As the project manager, you would gather information about the project and the change request. You would then estimate the impact of the change on costs. Your analysis would also include how the change could affect the timing and the project or product’s risk.

Using the example above, suppose your change impact analysis reveals a concern: Using a single sign-on system introduces a significant security risk. If hackers were to gain access to a user’s login credentials for an account used in SSO, they may be able to waltz right into your platform and hack the user’s account.

While you probably wouldn’t kill the change request off the cuff to avoid this risk, your analysis can be fodder for a useful conversation. In concert with the stakeholder requesting the change, you may suggest that users must review a warning message before using the SSO solution.

Alternatively, you may choose a different way of making the checkout process faster. For instance, you can move payment buttons to the shopping page so users can pay without having to navigate away from their browsing.

4. Decide What You’re Going To Do

Once you’ve analyzed the nature of the change and its risks, you can decide what you want to do. Often, this isn’t done in isolation. You can elicit the help of several members of your team—or the entire squadron—asking them to offer input. Once you’ve made the decision, you need to make sure everyone understands what’s changed and what that means. This requires thoughtful communication.

5. Inform Stakeholders About the Decision

Before informing stakeholders about a change, it’s important to update the changelog, baselines, and appropriate documents. Once the updates have been completed, you can then communicate with stakeholders either through email or a meeting, depending on the scale and significance of the change.

No matter how you communicate the decision, you’ll want to document the decision and how you conveyed it to those involved. That gives you something you can refer to in the future if there are any questions or concerns about how you communicated the change.

Improve Your Integrated Change Control Skills Now

Project Management Academy has the learning resources you need to create a culture that embraces change as an integral element of your development process. There’s no need to guess the best ways to manage change—or how to handle a multitude of other project management details. Project Management Academy’s courses give you success tools you can start using right away. Start your learning journey today!

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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO