How to control Change Requests

Projects must be flexible. Two factors are at work that ensure the generation of change requests: changes to the market the project is aimed towards and a lack of understanding of the project’s goals and objectives. The first is immutable. We can’t stop the world from changing, no matter how much we want it to. Successful projects are able to adapt to these stimuli and re-invent their products or services so that the right thing is delivered when it hits the market.
It is easier to avoid change requests that result from a stakeholder not understanding the goals and objectives of a project. Clear communication about the overall goals and objectives of the project will give it a solid foundation. It is important to ensure that all stakeholders review the project requirements and that decision makers approve them. This will help avoid any change requests that result from a lack of understanding of the project’s goals, objectives, or requirements. Regardless of how diligent the project manager may be in communicating and gathering requirements, they will still need to deal with any change requests that are not valuable other than clearing up stakeholder misconceptions. Here are some suggestions to help you do this while still being able to deliver the project.
Recognizing the Noise
How can you distinguish between a change request that arises from a need for a solution to a problem in the market and a change request that is a result of a need to change? Before you can move on to the next stage of the change management process, you must be able to distinguish between the two. Change requests should be viewed as mini business cases. They should include the same elements as the business case. The expected benefit of the change is what concerns us. Change requests that clearly articulate the expected benefit of the change, such as making the product more attractive to the target audience or changing a function in order to address a change to the work flow process, are likely to add value to the project. This type of change request should be submitted to the next stage in your Change Management process. The project itself can also reap the benefits. A change that reduces the amount of work required to build a deliverable, or allows the team to deliver earlier than expected could be an example.
Some change requests do not include a description of the benefits they bring. The subject matter expert who sees the need to meet a new market demand or spots the opportunity to save time or money may not be skilled at stating the business case. In the technical description of the requested change, the implied benefit to the project or organization may be obscured. Your change management process should include contact information for the requester on the change request. All requesters should be available to answer questions about their requests. Ask the requester to give more details about the business case. Ask them questions like “What new market demand will this solution meet?”, “How will it save the project’s time?”, and “How will it improve quality?”. These questions will open up the possibility of discussing why their solution is better than what was originally stated.
You may need to coax the requester to describe the benefits of the change. However, if they are unable to articulate the benefit of the requested changes after several leading questions or insist on changing the conversation to explain why their solution is better, you should end the conversation.

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