Change Control Process Automation
Ensure projects stay on track and scope creep and other change management issues are held in check.
Change control processes are meant to ensure projects stay on track and scope creep is held in check. Without a formal, reliable change control process projects can be subject to confusion, faults, and disruption. Change management issues can multiply and wreak havoc on the process.
Change control process automation is a way of creating a consistent, systematic and predictable way of managing change requests. By automating the change request process, the risk is reduced and efficiency is greatly increased.
By defining and automating the controls and policies involved in project changes, project team members have a reliable way of ensuring project scope is not compromised. Simply standardizing (and centralizing) the method for receiving, reviewing and implementing change requests can have an immediate positive impact on project performance and outcomes.
To manage change requests in an automated fashion three things need to be defined.
Request collection is managed by forms and documents. Forms are built to include all relevant information that needs to be collected in order to process a request. This could include category, importance, impact, complexity, etc. Documents can be attached to the form to include additional information but it's best practice to capture as much information as possible in the form itself.
When a request is submitted, how should it be routed? Is it routed based on form information (e.g. requests marked as "High Importance" follow a fast track) or are all requests handled the same way? What are the milestones and sign-off points? Can they be returned to the requester for additional information? These and many other aspects should be defined prior to building automation.
What parts of change assessment and change planning should be part of the workflow? For instance, the change request might start with an assessment team and then, if accepted, proceed to the planning team. A form could capture the assessment team's recommendation, risk-level, justification and approval which is then passed along with the original request to the planning team. The planning team's estimate, regression plan, and resource allocations could then be passed to the Implementation team.
Whatever reporting and analysis that needs to be done should be communicated prior to building any automation. This way, the process can be built with the end reporting goals in mind. For instance, if it's critical to capture the time it takes between request stages, the process automation software can be set up to measure the time between specific stages. If the reporting goals are to measure which departments submit the most requests, then "Department" needs to be captured in the request form. Accounting for these reporting expectations midstream can prevent capturing a complete picture.
In this relatively straightforward example of a change control process automation, we show a Change Control Form and the underlying process. Note that the option of "Emergency" is included in the form, which drives the workflow after "Pending Approval" in the flowchart.
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