You have all heard the mantra of scope change management—make sure that all scope change requests get approved by the sponsor (or
sponsor designee). This should be obvious for large scope change requests.
However, it’s not always practical to gain individual approval for every five, ten, or twenty-hour scope change request.

You definitely need to have
a way to capture and manage these requests. If you don’t, you’ll quickly find
that you are dealing with the infamous “scope creep.” The three techniques to employ for managing small
scope changes are described below.

Batching small requests

It’s hard to get the sponsor’s attention for these small
requests. It’s better to batch the small changes up into a bundle. This means
that you keep track of the small scope changes, their business value, and their
impact on the project. Then, when they hit a certain threshold, you take all of
them to the sponsor for approval. At that meeting, you and the client discuss
all the proposed changes (or perhaps just the larger ones in the batch) and get
sponsor feedback on whether they should be done.

Project manager discretion

From a practical standpoint, it usually makes sense for the
project manager and client manager to be given discretion to approve small
scope change requests under some threshold of effort-hours and cost. However,
this assumes that the project is on or ahead of schedule and that the changes
do not make the project exceed the agreed upon cost. If the project is in any
risk of not meeting its cost or duration commitments, this discretion should
not be used—even for a one-hour change request.

Scope change contingency budget

In some organizations, it’s common to allocate a scope change
contingency budget to handle small changes. Your organization may recognize
that some scope changes are always requested and you may be allowed to allocate
a percentage of the total project budget to account for these. For example, you
may have a five-percent contingency added to your budget to handle normal scope change
requests. The client must manage the scope change contingency budget. If the
client uses the budget up early on small scope changes, there’s nothing left
for later change requests. This puts the client in a position of rationing the
changes to ensure that only the most important changes are approved.