A change request log is used to document all the changes that are requested by any stakeholder, at any stage in a project.
It's important to have a record of all changes because it helps ensure that all requested changes to the original project scope are analyzed, approved or rejected, thoroughly documented, and tracked. This provides all stakeholders - including the project team - with a way to clearly identify what may have changed within the scope of a project, when it happened, and why. The change request log can be essential to ensuring that contractual requirements are confirmed, and evidence presented (if needed) as to the changes to the original scope.
Change request log components
Although every project and project change request may be different, the type of information listed below should regularly appear in most change request logs.
1. A change request identification number
This is a unique key for each request that makes it easy to search and find change requests when there are multiple ones that might be similar. It also ensures that all team members and stakeholders can be sure to which change request any discussion pertains.
2. The type of change request
This helps to categorize the change request in a way that makes it relevant to the project, such as function, role, or other criteria.
3. The change that is being requested
This should include a detailed description of the exact change is that is being proposed.
4. What has triggered the request
As will be covered in further detail below, something always triggers a change request. Having insight into the triggers can help the approver to determine the need for and significance of the change.
5. The impact on the project
Before just requesting a change, it is important to do some analysis on what the impact is anticipated to be, and how it will change the project and deliverables. The requestor of the change should provide some of this, but other members of the team and stakeholders may well need to input as well.
6. Other key information
This includes the following:
- The date the request was received
- Who requested the change
- The status of the request
- Who approved (or rejected) the request
- Reasons for the approval or rejection
- Actions required
Together, this key information helps stakeholders, project teams, and sponsors to keep track of what has changed within a project, when it changed, and more important, why the change was necessary.
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Factors that trigger change requests
There's always something that prompts a request for a change to a project. Here are some common ones:
1. Incorrect assumptions
An example of an incorrect assumption might be something like assuming all department team leads will be available to dedicate 20 hours per week to a project but they are only available 10 hours per week. This will impact the project timeline and can trigger the need for a scope change request.
2. Customer requirements
Customers' changing needs are a common trigger for scope change requests. The customer may have a change of mind in their desired direction due to internal or external factors.
3. Resource constraints
Factors like talent shortages can significantly hamper the ability to deliver on project promises, and this can trigger the need to reassess and scale back project goals.
4. Budgetary constraints
These are often a factor as customers may have a lofty list of ever-changing goals and deliverables, yet their ability to sufficiently cover their goals may shrink over the project lifecycle.
5. A change in operational strategy
This can cause a shift in portfolio, program, and project priorities, triggering the need to scale back or cancel some goals or requirements altogether.
6. Technological advances or gaps
New technology or lack of technology might positively or negatively impact how projects are executed, for example with a new software tool needing to be incorporated. Even the slightest change to a process can trigger the need for a change request.
7. Regulatory or legal requirements
These are often unforeseen surprises that force organizations to alter in-progress projects, prompting the need for change requests that can impact various areas of the business. Just think about the recent impact of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation!
8. Errors or defects
These can also be an unwelcome occurrence that can trigger changes to how the project team will meet the quality of its deliverables.
Depending on your industry, project complexity, project size, geographic location, and organizational structure, among other things, there might be other factors that play into the need for a change request.
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Moira Alexander is the Founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine and Lead-Her-Ship Group, and a project management and digital workplace columnist for various publications. Moira has 20+ years in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada. To find out more about Moira, go to www.pmworld360.com and www.leadhershipgroup.com.