Change happens on projects. If you’ve managed a project, you’ve seen it time and time again.
Sometimes the change is big and requires an adjustment to your scope and plan. Other times, it’s minimal and doesn’t impact too much.
Either way, as a project leader, you have to stay on top of change to ensure it doesn’t impact your budget, timeline, or team negatively. You may not be able to keep project change from happening—but you can manage it.
In project management, change management refers to the process used to identify, document, and remediate change in a project. That change could alter the scope, budget, resourcing, and timeline of a project. Or it could just alter an existing project requirement and nothing else.
Like projects, change comes in many shapes and sizes. So it’s up to you as the project manager to keep an eye out for it and apply the proper steps to avoid project combustion.
Every organization handles change management differently, but a change order request form is a simple tool you can use to document and track ongoing change.
Whether you have a change management process in place or not, it’s important to think through the logical steps you might take to accept and agree to a project change.
When a stakeholder or team member makes a change request, you’ll want to inspect it to ensure the change is necessary, then assess the impacts.
Here are a few simple questions to help you and your team determine how to handle the change:
Once you’ve discussed these questions with your team and stakeholders, you can focus in on how the change will impact your timeline and budget. It’s a good idea to get your team together to talk about the level of effort required by the impending change.
For instance, let’s say you’re scoped to install an in-ground pool and the customer decides to add a hot tub after the pool has already been dug. You’ll need to figure out how that affects the existing plan, labor, and, eventually, costs before moving forward. After all, stopping work to redesign the pool, get the customer’s approval on the new design, and order the proper materials sure sounds expensive and time-consuming.
In some cases, a stakeholder may be fine with the change and its associated costs. But often, it can be just as much of a surprise to them as the original change request was to you!
Be thoughtful, and spell out all the steps the change will require—making sure to get specific about potential project schedule and budget impacts. That way, everyone can agree on next steps and any added costs before you proceed with the work.
We’ve got a free class to help you out! Register for Plan Up: How to Create and Sell a Winning Project Plan to see how building a plan with buy-in can help you make the right decisions when change occurs. Plus, get our free Guide to Project Planning when you sign up!
The best way to document and get approval for a change (and everything that comes with it) is to write a change order request.
Not sure where to start? Download a copy of our free Google Docs change order request form template.
Documenting your project change and approvals is a whole lot easier when you use our template.
To edit the template, you'll need to save a copy to your own drive first. Simply click File > Make a Copy (or File > Download as), and you’re ready to go!
Here’s a quick overview of the form and its fields so you know how to make the most of it for your change order requests:
We’ve kept this change request form template short and sweet because these are the basics you’ll need to manage change on multiple projects. After all, templates should make your job easier!
But feel free to adapt this template to make it yours. You may want to add your own logo to the header or even format your change order request as a written contract rather than a form.
Whatever you do, just be sure to include a form of written agreement in your change management process.
You may not be able to avoid change, but you can keep it from bogging your project down with TeamGantt. Here are just a few of the features you’ll enjoy:
Watch the video below to see how TeamGantt works, and give our online project management software a free try today!