Friday, June 6, 2008

Project Cost Control: Change Requests

The secret to successful project cost control is complying with the project plan—and knowing when to be flexible. A good plan will enable you to make changes when necessary.

Nearly every project will require change at some point, whether it's to the schedule, the budget, or the project scope. Change is sparked by the submission of a change request. There are several benefits to using change requests, besides the fact that they initiate necessary change to a project. Change requests are inputs to cost control, but they also:
  • enable team members to have some say in the budget, whether their requests are accepted or not
  • provide useful information during a postmortem follow-up
  • form a part of the paper trail you can use to audit changes to the project budget.
Change requests are used to initiate a modification in the project specifications. In project cost control, change requests apply specifically to proposed changes to the budget. Once the request has been submitted, the cost change control system is used to manage the change request.

The cost change control system is a five-step process that begins with a change request and ends in a decision to accept or reject the proposed change. The five steps involved are: initiate, record, assess, recommend, and make a decision.

Change requests can take many forms. They can be submitted in writing or verbally expressed, internally or externally initiated, direct or indirect, and legally mandated or optional. These different forms of change requests are discussed below.
  • A change request can be made in writing and handed in, or verbally expressed to the appropriate project authority.
  • A change request can originate from within the project team or outside the project team.
  • A change request can be submitted directly to project management or can be passed on to the project manager by someone other than the person who initiated it.
  • A change request can result from a law or rule imposed by the government or authorities, or it can be optionally imposed by the company.
Change requests are the first step in initiating a change to the project budget, scope, or schedule. These requests take different forms, depending on the project and the situation, and they are important inputs to project cost control.

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