Updating the Project Schedule & Dealing with Change Video

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  • 0:00 What Is a Project Change?
  • 1:07 How Does Change Impact…
  • 2:04 The Effect of Change…
  • 3:27 Change Management Process
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen O'Brien

Karen has 14 years of experience in consultancy, including creation of training materials and running courses for IT professionals.

All projects encounter change, but how you handle that change can determine whether your project succeeds or fails. Read this lesson to learn how to manage change successfully.

What Is Project Change?

Murphy's law is a saying that typically means 'anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.' While this is somewhat extreme, you can be guaranteed that something unexpected will come up during every project. It could be anything from a simple staff change to a new circumstance that completely derails your entire project. That is why change management is essential for any project. The aim is to plan for change, or unforeseen issues, and have the tools and strategy to manage them and minimize their impact.

What are the common types of change a project encounters? Staffing issues, such as a team member falling ill, somebody resigning, a developer being reassigned to another project. A request to alter the functionality of the project, also known as a feature change/request, can lead to a significant number of project changes. And more complex changes mean more things could go wrong. Logistical changes (for example, project team transferred to separate building, resource visa delays...) are also common.

How Does Change Impact a Project?

Change can impact a project in a number of different ways. However, the two most important are cost and time. Changes inevitably have an impact on project schedule. Even a single developer taking one day off work will impact the schedule. Your decision is whether to have someone else do that work on that day, have the developer work an extra day on the weekend, or extend project deadlines.

A change to the project schedule or plan almost always incurs a cost. Every hour a project resource works is a cost to the project. Similarly, every hour a project is delayed incurs a cost. Project delays or additional project workload also reduces ROI. ROI (return on investment) is the financial gain a project brings, minus project costs. If a project is delayed going to market, every minute it is not available to purchase is a minute of lost revenue.

The Effect of Change on Project Schedule

Every project has a plan, and most project plans have complex schedules involving multiple resources working on project tasks simultaneously. Many of these tasks are dependent on other tasks; these are called dependencies. A dependency is typically when a current task is dependent on a preceding or succeeding task. For example, windows in a new house cannot be fitted until the house frame is complete. A single task may have any number of dependencies.

This is important is because a single change to a single task can affect other dependent tasks, or the entire project. The project plan shows all dependencies between tasks, and when making a change to your plan, it should clearly reflect the precise impact that change will have on all areas of the project.

Let's take a straightforward example. A contractor falls ill suddenly and is unable to work for four days. This contractor was due to complete the timber frame of a new house, which will now be delayed four days. Another job, installing ground floor windows, is due to begin immediately following completion of the timber frame. The six window installers have been contracted and paid for. This simple four-day delay will now cost 28 man days; four contractor days and 4 x 6 (24) window installer days.

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