Effective Project Change Management: Why is it Important?

Xergy Group
Digital Transformation project change management Variations Work Management
Project change management | Proteus Project Software

Change is inevitable in the life cycle of a project. Being able to adapt to and navigate change is important for project success and can give you an advantage over your competitors.

However, there is no denying that making alterations to a project can be challenging, disruptive, and daunting. This is where project change management comes into play. Project change management involves the planning, implementing, and tracking of changes to minimise negative impacts on individuals, projects, and the overall organisation. At Proteus we help our clients manage changes effectively and efficiently to maximise the success of their projects. 

What is project change management?

Let’s start by discussing what change management actually entails within project management. Typically, every project whether it’s in engineering or the energy sector begins with outlining elements such as the project objectives, its budget, resource allocation, schedule and deliverables. However, more often than not, there are changes that must be implemented because of modifications in a project’s scope, whether that be due to an alteration in a client’s requirements or a change in the project’s budget or deadline. Project change management encompasses the processes of how project changes are requested and implemented in a controlled way

For example, the Big Dig Highway Construction Project in Boston had overspending of over $12 million and was 9 years overdue because of the project’s lack of organisation. Sub-teams were reporting to too many different leaders which resulted in clashes in plans and variation requests. This exemplifies how a lack of robust project change management procedures can have extreme consequences and undermine a project’s success.

Successfully managing variations involves the introduction of structured and formal procedures at the individual, team and organisational levels to address the numerous changes that can arise throughout the course of a project. APM advocates the importance of project management professionals possessing a good understanding of change management to ensure successful implementation. By using a methodical approach to evaluate, authorise and execute changes, there is more of a balance ensured between project adaptability and stability. 

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Why is change management important? 

Without proper management procedures there can be several negative consequences that arise. Some examples include: 

  1. Project delays: Without a structured approach to change, it is easy for delays to occur which will disrupt the agreed project timeline.
  1. Increased costs: Ineffective management of changes can lead to higher expenses, resulting in the project exceeding its budget which can negatively affect the project’s overall financial performance.
  1. Employee frustration: Without proper change management techniques it is easy for a team’s objectives to be misaligned or miscommunicated. This can provoke frustration amongst employees and potentially decrease productivity. This emphasises the importance of introducing formal structures, so that everyone is aware of the change procedure and can work accordingly. 

These consequences have the potential to inflict an overall reduced quality of work which can be detrimental to a project’s success. Along with ill-defined scope requirements and poor task prioritisation, Forbes Advisor cites a poor or lack of change control processes as a leading cause of scope creep. Scope creep occurs when additional features are required to meet the project’s needs. This is not always a bad thing, but if changes are not properly documented and monitored, it can lead to a loss of control which can come in the forms of unintentional overspending or delays in project completion. 

Through a strong understanding of change management, project management professionals can ensure there are robust project change processes in place to ensure appropriate decisions are made by the correct people at the right time. This will reduce the likelihood of a change having negative effects, minimise business risk and instead maximise positive outcomes such as boosting profits, remaining on schedule and maintaining a positive team relationship. 

Strategies for effective change management

Let’s talk more about what successful project change management involves. Obviously the steps taken to manage changes will vary depending on the nature of the required alteration and the type of project itself.

An important foundation is the project change management plan. This can be described as a roadmap guiding a team from identifying and requesting a scope variation, to reviewing the impact on the project budget and schedule, to rejecting or actually enacting the modification. Forbes Advisor stresses that it is particularly significant to establish clear boundaries in your change management plan to provide your team with a formal step-by-step guide of approaching change in a project’s scope. It should include key information such as:

  1. The approval hierarchy: It is crucial to clearly outline the Individuals deemed appropriate and necessary to approve or deny variation requests. You should also include who is allowed to make requests initially. 
  2. Templates: The provision of templates for documents such as change requests and approval forms ensures that there is consistency in the way that changes are proposed and processed. 
  3. Communication guidelines: If a change is approved, how will this be communicated to the team? Effective communication is at the crux of successful project change management, so ensure that information is accessible to your project team.

A clear and comprehensive plan is integral to avoiding ambiguity and efficiently managing change. It will give you tighter control over budget, scope and resources to prevent anything from disrupting your project’s progress. By using a change control process, you can ensure that all changes are sufficiently recorded, assessed, and authorised before being implemented. 

Once the variations have been made, it is imperative that you continuously observe and assess the impact of the implemented change. This ensures that your project remains on schedule and on budget. Evaluating your project change management procedures is also important to enable any necessary adjustments to be made ahead of future projects. This highlights the significance of collecting input from team members and other stakeholders to enhance the ongoing development of your management procedures.

Streamlining project change management with project management software

Signing up to project management software is a smart and convenient way to monitor the change management process within your projects. 

Project management software is a valuable asset in supporting change management efforts for a variety of reasons, such as centralisation of task management, communication and reporting. Reliance on error-prone spreadsheets and multiple source documents can undermine the flow and quality of your projects. Alternatively, the centralisation offered by software like Proteus improves productivity and organisation, for example, in engineering projects, change requests can come from a range of departments and by using one platform successful management of variations is made more convenient and easy for project teams.

Moreover, Proteus ensures that all variations are approved quickly and efficiently in accordance with your company’s sign-off workflow. This prevents any alterations to the agreed work-breakdown structure and project scope from being carried out without the necessary permissions.

Access to real-time data is invaluable in managing change successfully. Our user-friendly software enables project managers in sectors such as engineering and energy to use real-time data to observe changes as they happen. Any approved variations implemented will automatically update on your dashboards and gantt charts. You can track your variations and prevent any potential risks from slipping under the radar. Proteus will optimise your project change management strategy, promote productivity and most importantly keep your project plans on track!

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It is incredibly unrealistic to think nothing is going to change throughout the course of your project. Implementing change management processes is integral to avoid scope creep and prevent risks. There is no one-size fits all approach and it must be consistently adapted to ensure your team is performing optimally. Investing in a project management software is a key first step to successful project change management.

About Proteus Project Software

Xergy Group’s Proteus project management software works with your existing systems and scales as your business grows. Created by project management leaders, for the diversified engineering consultancy sector, Proteus delivers an end-to-end work management software platform with detailed workflows from the early opportunity stage through to project delivery.

Proteus’ end-to-end project management software is a cloud-based system designed for businesses of all sizes to handle projects of unlimited complexity. Proteus is compliant with common project management frameworks and ISO standards. Each feature aims to make bottom-line improvements by improving utilisation, streamlining workflows, providing quick and efficient access to resources, and reducing overheads. Check out some of our client case studies to learn more about how Proteus makes a tangible difference.

How to get Proteus

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