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Three Techniques for Scope Change Management

November 21 2016

Three Techniques for
Scope Change Management

1. Hold Everyone Accountable for Scope Management

Many scope management processes work well at the project manager level, but get compromised by team members. If the project manager is diligent in enforcing the scope change rules, your customer may try to go directly to team members for changes.

The bottom line is that everyone needs to be held accountable for the scope management process. Team members must understand the process and why it is important. Your customer  must also understand the process and its importance. Don’t consider these procedures to be only of interest to the project manager and the sponsor. Make sure the procedures are communicated to the entire team.

2. Use a Change Control Board for Large Projects

Sometimes on very large projects, the project sponsor does not feel comfortable making the scope change decisions alone. This may especially be the case if the effect of the change will impact other organizations. It may also be the case that multiple organizations are participating in, or contributing to, the project funding, and want to have some say in evaluating scope change requests. For these cases, a group of people might be needed to handle the scope change approval.

A common name for this group is a Change Control Board. If a Board exists, it may be more cumbersome to work through. However, the general scope change management process does not need to change dramatically. For instance, there is still a document for the initial the scope change request. The project team needs to determine the impact and cost to the project. The Board must consider the impact, the value to the project, the timing, etc., and then make a determination as to whether the request is accepted.

The Scope Change Procedures must be more sophisticated to account for the Board. For instance, you need to clarify who is on the Board, how often they will meet, how they will be notified in emergencies, how they will reach decisions (consensus, majority, unanimous, etc.), how incremental work will be paid for, etc.

3. Make Sure the Right Person Approves Scope Changes

A typical problem on a project is that the team does not understand the roles of the sponsor, customer and end users in the area of change management. In general, the project sponsor is the person who is funding the project. The sponsor is usually high up in the organization and not easy to see on a day-to-day basis. 

The people that the project team tends to work with most often are normal customers and end users. End users are the people that use the solution that the project is building.

It doesn’t matter how important a change is to an end user, the end users cannot make scope change decisions and they cannot give your team the approval to make a scope change. The sponsor (or designee) must give the approval. The end users can request scope changes, but they cannot approve them. The end user cannot allocate additional funding to cover the changes and cannot know if the project impact is acceptable.

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