Project managers have to keep themselves ready at all times when it comes to managing a project. Right from the start when the plans are still being drawn up to the end of a project, changes are inevitable and occur over the course of the project lifecycle. The key is to work out how best to accommodate and adapt to these changes.
The most important aspect of dealing with changes in project management is to be prepared for it at all times. Always remember that projects do not always follow the plans that were designed initially. A large number of factors like resource allocation, finances, and accessibility can change the lifecycle of a project.
Here are seven actionable tips to deal with changes in the project lifecycle.
1. Be thoroughly informed
Any change in the project will be initiated with the help of a change request form. It is important to stay on top of details in such change requests. Run the form with the person who has initiated the request and make sure that both you and the initiator are on the same page about the changes that need to be implemented.
2. Assess whether work needs to be put in or out
Not all changes demand work to be put in. In many cases, work may need to be put out. Thoroughly assess the change request form to find out whether more resources need to be allocated and if the project scope is being increased or decreased.
3. Assess the impact on key factors
The key factors of a project include time, documentation, quality, budget, and availability of resources. Initiating a change in the lifecycle of a project should be done only after the changes to these factors are properly determined. For instance, a change in the allocated software may extend the duration of the project by five days. In such a scenario, the project manager needs to evaluate whether resources need to be extended and whether this will have an impact on the planned budget.
4. Keep aside contingency funds
Like we said earlier, one of the most important steps in managing changes to a project is to be prepared for it. Set aside contingency funds from the very beginning in anticipation of possible changes. This way, you will be prepared for the possible changes that can take place without having to stress about the budget.
5. Do not annoy the stakeholders
If the decision to implement a change is beyond your scope, it is best to involve project sponsors and stakeholders and get their opinion. An independent decision, especially a large one may not sit well with the sponsors and there are chances that the change might be rejected.
6. Make use of change management tools
There are a number of change management tools available. These tools guide you through the entire process of raising and managing changes in the project lifecycle. These tools provide templates of change request forms and guide people on how to initiate a change request in the proper, streamlined process.
7. Use cost management tools
It is always best to carry out a cost analysis before implementing the changes. There are a number of cost management tools that can help with the task. These tools will provide an estimate of the additional costs for implementing the changes in the project. This, in turn, gives a clear idea on whether to proceed or not and whether to put in a request for new funds.