Integrated Change Control: Process & Example

Instructor: Joshua Stegmeyer
This lesson includes a walk-through and explanation of the Integrated Change Control process using a simple project change as an example. The elements discussed include Change Orders, Change Review, and Approval.

The Value of Integrated Change Control

We've all been on the receiving end of Integrated Change Control, the process by which all changes to a project are well considered and the consequences approved. You've told a plumber, or electrician, or contractor that you want a change in their work, and instead of just doing it, he disappears for fifteen minutes and returns with a form detailing twice the work you asked for and a new cost way above what you thought. Especially from the outside it seems like bureaucracy, a money grab, or at it's worst, as a person simply being difficult. Even from the inside, Integrated Change Control (ICC) can feel cumbersome, especially at first.

However, the reason ICC is so common in project management is quite simple: every experienced project manager has noticed that the vast majority of 'oh shoot' moments stem from ill-considered project change! Today we'll walk through the phases of ICC using our friendly contractor as an example.

Recognizing Change

A contractor is remodeling a kitchen for a young couple. Right about when he's finished pulling all the old furnishings out, the customer tells him they'd like to include a trash compactor. There's no re-work, yet, so it should only be the cost of the compactor itself, right? Our man stops and considers for a moment, and then begins to repeat back what is being requested. He even goes so far as to shape out with his hands where they say they want the new appliance. Instead of simply saying 'yes,' he tells his customer that he'll give them a change order in the morning. A change order is a simplified form, often an addendum to a contract, that details reason, scope, and consequences of a change to a project. It should always be signed at least by the original approvers of any document changed.

The contractor took the most important and the hardest step: he recognized a change. It may seem obvious that something was changing, there is a new appliance, but quite often, even when obvious changes are made, team members and even Project Managers fail to execute ICC.

He also took another important step: he carefully defined the change under consideration. Just as a badly defined problem is difficult to solve, a badly defined change is difficult to make. When he was done with his conversation, he knew exactly where the appliance would be, as well as its relative size. If possible, he'd likely know even the exact model to be installed.

Change Review

Our contractor goes home that night and performs a change review. A change review is just what it sounds like; a close look at every part of a project searching for impacts of the change in question. As he does this, he discovers what you would expect in the new cabinetry. However, when he considers the electricity, he realizes that with all the other appliances in the kitchen, another circuit will have to be run. When he checks his records, he discovers that the electricity box to the house is already at capacity and would need to be replaced. This small change to the project would cost several times more than the appliance itself!

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