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Whether we like it or not, plans change. Normally, this isn’t a huge problem because we can find ways to accommodate most changes. But, when it happens in business, it can be problematic because project managers only have so many resources available, you’ve got set project schedules, deadlines, deliverables, team members, and milestones to consider. That’s why you need to think twice about change control during the project planning phase.
Change control is a system that allows you to work change into your efforts and provides you with a clear path to follow when something needs to happen outside of the initial scope.
Like a lot of things, change control works best when you have a well-defined change control process to follow that helps you understand the impact of a change request. Of course, at Coda, we feel the best way to define a process is with a change control template.
What is a change control template?
A change control template is a document that walks you through each step of the change control process to make sure that you don’t miss any of the requirements.
The template is designed to give change managers an easy, fool-proof way of managing change. This entails assessing the need for change, figuring out who will be affected by it, and who needs to give their approval for the change. Once you identify key persons involved, you’ll need to fill out our and send it over to get their signatures. Without these clearly defined steps, you risk making changes that affected the entire project and risk things falling behind.
How to create a change control plan
Before you can create a change control template, you need a process for changing the project plan. Among other things, a change control process helps you define the different stages in your template, lets you know who on the project team needs to be involved, and highlights any areas where you may need help in the future.
The more clearly defined the particulars of your change control plan are, the easier it becomes to create the necessary project management templates for your business.
Start by defining change for a specific project at hand. Obviously, modifying a headline on a new website isn't likely going to trigger the change control process, so you need to figure out what does. Small changes like that headline, are likely fine. But what’s the threshold that needs to be crossed for something to need a change control plan. Added pages to that new site? Maybe you’re building software and the client wants to add new features? What counts as change is going to be different not only from business to business, but also from project to project. But you need some way to establish a baseline for change. If you’re stuck, ask the people in your business who manage your projects. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what’s slowing things down and what changes need to be included in the plan. It can help to come up with a change request form during this step, as well so you have a way to initiate the change management process.
Once you know what a change is, it’s time to identify all the key stakeholders. Since approval is needed for all changes (according to change control plans), the sooner you identify the approvers, the better.
From there, determine what the key steps in your change control process are going to look like. If you’re not sure what should be included here, we talk about the common steps below. You might find that your business requires certain steps that aren’t mentioned, so feel free to adjust as needed until you have a change control plan that perfectly suits your business.
Finally, write it all down. Make sure that you bounce the plan off of the key stakeholders for the various processes that exist in your business to make sure that you cover everything. Odds are there is going to be some tinkering required as the various people look over your project change request, but that’s to be expected. If it helps, create specific plans for specific types of change that you have to manage in your business, to fully cover everything that might come up.
What can help you streamline the entire process is our that outlines the strategy for adopting organizational change. It will serve as a comprehensive overview of all the changes and plans on how to manage each one of them.
How to use this project change control template?
Step 1: Setup a list of projects and statuses
Change requests can be applied to a specific set of projects your team is working on. List out those projects on the page. You can add additional columns to the table if necessary. This list of projects is referenced when you submit a change request in this template. You will also need to set up the different change request statuses in the page. We created a standard set of project statuses but your list may be different depending on your change control plan.
Step 2: Submit change requests to projects
On the page, you’ll submit the change requests you’d like to make to projects. After you click the Add A Change Request button, you’ll see all the fields you need to fill out in order to submit a complete change request. Your change control process may require additional fields to fill out. You’ll notice that you can select one of the projects you defined in Step 1 (from the page).
Step 3: Manage the change control process
Based on the statuses listed on the page, you’ll see each status as a column on the page. This view shows all the change requests on a board. This allows you to move change requests from one stage to the next. It also gives your team a real-time overview of changes and helps them visualize your change control process from a bird’s eye view. If you double-click into any of the cards on the kanban board, you’ll see the full detail about that change request for a given project.
👉 Get started with: change control template
Want to take this change control template out for a spin? Click on Copy this template to easily reproduce it in Coda. Once you do, you can modify the template to your heart’s content to replicate the way change management works within your organization.
Change control template FAQs
Why is it important to have a change control template?
Change control template is important because it makes sure that you follow the exact same steps every time something happens during a project that changes an aspect of it. The goal is to make sure that you’re not making decisions that can have a negative impact on your business, the project that you’re working on, or your customers.
What are the benefits of a change control template?
The change control process exists for a reason. It’s not just there to make sure you run through yet another checklist. It exists because there are necessary steps within any business that needs to be completed to change some aspect of a project. Change control templates help you make sure that you don’t miss any of the important steps in your change control process.
Change control templates also speed up changes. When you don’t have a process that’s defined by a template like that, you end up scrambling around talking to all the wrong people about the change that needs to happen. With a change control template, everything is laid in the exact order that it needs to be done, helps you identify the people that you need to be talking to, and gives you the guidelines you need to approve or deny any changes.
What are the necessary steps for a change control template?
The specifics are going to vary slightly depending on the way you do things within your business, but generally, there are five clear steps for change control. They are:
What is the change? This outlines the change that needs to be made and why it needs to happen. Provide a thorough description of the change here to help decision makers fully understand the need. How will it affect the project? What’s the impact of the proposed change? It might be a slight delay in finishing the project, it could be a financial impact (maybe you save money as a result of this). Provide as much detail as possible on the impact of the change here to help the decision-makers. The decision. Will the change be happening, yes or no? Updating the plan. Changes need to be planned out and worked into the existing plan. Review. Take some time after the project to take a look at the change to see what you could do differently next time to either avoid it or anticipate it. Having a change log will help with the review, so make sure you document everything along the way.
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