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Project Change Management Discussion - Part A

By Gary Kennedy, P. Eng., PMP

(2022-10-04) Project Change Control activities can be a challenge for organizations when they decide to expand their businesses into participating in Capital Projects. This happens if they do not yet have the experience and/or functional organizational processes for dealing with project changes including, but not limited to, design, fabrication, construction, and installation efforts.

In some lines of business, organizations may have performed an acceptable job for decades in filling in and approving Change Orders when just supplying and shipping goods to customers. These are the types of businesses where the changes made to quantities, styles, and other features would not typically have impacts on cost, schedule, safety, environment, community stakeholders, and other effects.

For example, this could be the case for a company bringing in and distributing industrial tools, and perhaps assembling some of the tools at the company warehouse. In this type of situation, there may be no real expected impacts (except simple cost and quantities, and maybe shipping time) of issuing a Change Order to increase an original order of 10 large containers of XYZ widgets to 15 containers of XYZ widgets. This type of "Change" situation tends not to need detailed impact analysis.

However, their work processes will likely need to be adjusted if the company is expanding their business lines into Capital Projects, or other types of projects, that will generate various IMPACTS of Changes in their projects. Those proposed changes should be documented, assessed, and approved/declined, by qualified team members, invited Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and/or any necessary regulatory authorities. The perspectives of legislated Practice of Engineering must also be considered, if such Engineering scope is involved (as is often the case).

Let's ask ourselves: "If we are spending so much time and resources on developing a design and installation plan with team expertise, then why wouldn't we pay equal or more attention with our teams to making changes to those design and installation plans?"

The terminology varies between organizations and industries, but the above reviews of impacts of proposed project changes can be typically summarized and signed off in Change Requests. Other examples can be seen in "Contemplated Change Orders", "Contemplated Change Requests", and other forms. Change Notices can also be an important part of the process to solidify Change Communication to stakeholders. Regardless of terminology and organizational tools, the approach of carefully assessing and dealing with the impacts of Project Changes is critical to Project Risk management and Project Deliverables.

More to follow in future posts.

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