Change control is vital in keeping your project on track. Any change to the agreed deliverables of your project should be subject to an impact analysis. There are various means of undertaking such analyses and all recognised project methodologies have a preferred approach.
Key to any approach is to consider the impact in terms of time, cost and quality.
By this stage in the project you already have an agreed plan and deliverables and an agreed budget. By considering the proposed change under the above headings you should be able to establish whether the change is within acceptable tolerance limits or whether it has a significant impact on any of these areas. Generally a project manager may approve changes that are within tolerance but will refer to a higher authority such as a project steering board where the proposal amounts to a significant scope change.
In these instances the Board should be presented with some form of business case if it is being asked to approve a change.
To continue with the system selection example given earlier − let’s assume we had chosen to purchase a course timetabling system but excluded examination timetabling. Ideally we should have consulted all relevant stakeholders about the project scope before getting the project underway but let’s assume the registrar suddenly thinks it would be a good idea to include exam timetabling. If we make this change it will set our deadlines back because we will need to define our requirements in this area and it is likely to result in additional cost.
We must make a business case for why the change (in this case presumably an improvement in quality) is worth doing.
Projects that involve the purchase of software applications or certain types of IT tools can pose additional issues in relation to change control when formal tendering is involved. You must have a watertight scope before starting the procurement process otherwise regulations dictate that you may have to start again and re−advertise.
Changing the goalposts after you have gone out to tender not only reduces your chances of attracting the right suppliers it may also leave you open to legal action by suppliers.
See our guidance on managing scope within a project.