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Changes control in project management

Author : DAOUDI Samir | Context : MSc Software Engineering – IT Project Management

Projects have important roles within a company, any idea, modification of process, implementation of new technology…etc. everything is conducted within a project and the success or failure of this one might have a significant impact on company’s business. The Chaos report presents a very bad results and statistics about projects failure. Different causes might lead the project to fail as:
– Inappropriate technology.
– Incomplete understanding of requirements.
– Lack of experience.
– Unmotivated and non-devoted team members.
– Inappropriate handling of changes.
– Other non-expected risks (James & Clement, 2009).
Focus on changes, these are one of the worst facts that can happen during a project, depending when the changes occurred, it can have a significant impact on the whole project (Roberts, 2007).
I remember last year, I was involved in the development of software, which was a specific ERP for a company. The analysis phase took couple of months after which the complete description of the requirements and the project. We were about 5 developers with database designer. And we all have worked hard for more that 6 months. We have accomplished about 60% of the project requirements and we were all very excited and completely devoted to the project. Than one day the project manager told us that another multi-national acquired the company for which the software was being developed and hence the requirements have a little bit changed. We first thought that it was some quick modifications but he came the next with a huge list of modifications that require the re-design of the database itself and so the re-write of the complete code for data access, forms…etc. First consequence of that, two freelance developers have quitted the project and they were had key responsibilities which can be summarized in the data access and licensing parts of the project. Couple of days later we had a meeting with the PM and we told him that the project cannot be delivered in time and that reviewing the project schedule is necessary. The project than has been aborted and it was a real failure of this last due to changes occurring which were not properly handled.
Changes in a project are frequent, however it is the responsibility of the project manager and the senior managers to anticipate these situations by having different clauses in the project contract that handle the changes. As in some contracts, companies request refund and penalties for delays in project, the project manager can negotiate for delays and conditions for any changes. In addition, some critical changes occurring after specific period and should not be accepted.
Another concept which can in certain situations save a lot of money, efforts, time and save the whole project is the Management of Change that is applied in real situations as document that describes what is being changed, what does it affect, what are the risks of this change and how to roll back if something goes wrong. The MOC document should be submitted to the hierarchy (responsible of the project) and should also present arguments and reasons why this change is required (Genus, 1998).
The analysis phase of the project is the most important by the simple fact that it describes the requirements of the system, which will be translated in technical document to be passed to the other teams. Changing the requirements of a project can be very dangerous and might have significant impact (Time respect, team motivation, financial budget of the project…etc.). For this reason, project managers should anticipate and explicitly detail these situations in the project contract to completely avoid or handle any changes.

References

– Audley Genus (1998). The Management of Change: Perspectives and Practice. ISBN: 1-86152-047-6.

– Jack Gido, James P. Clements (2009). Successful Project Management. ISBN: 978-0-324-65615-2.

– Paul Roberts (2007). Guide to Project Management: Achieving lasting benefit through effective change. ISBN: 978-1-86197-822-6.

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