CXO

How to create a change request log for your project

Within most projects, change requests are common. Here's everything you need to know about change request logs and why they are vital to project success.

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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.

SEE: Job description: IT project manager (Tech Pro Research)

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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About Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contr...

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