“In the last 30 years mankind has produced more information than in the previous 5,000.” (Information Overload Causes Stress. Reuters Magazine).
The average Fortune 100 worker already is sending and receiving approximately 178 messages and documents each day, according to a recent study, “Managing Corporate Communications in the Information Age.”E-mail is at risk of killing its own usefulness. Daily e-mail volume is now over 210 billion a day worldwide and increasing, according to The Radicati Group, a market research firm.
The burden of managing all that e-mail has prompted a backlash. One extreme reaction is “e-mail bankruptcy,” where users throw up their hands and erase their entire inboxes. Many admit the distraction makes it near impossible to get work done, or even socialize normally.Companies are coming up with both behavioral and technical answers to the e-mail overload issue. Some major companies discourage the use of the “reply all” feature, which generates lots of extra mail. Other companies try to enforce “e-mail-free workplace.
The solution is to reduce dependencies on emails and document sharing. Use Saas (software as service) productivity tools where you can upload messages that will be sent as email message to only concerned people on their Pcs, laptops, ipad and all mobile devices. This online software should allow you to view messages on the message board and organize messages as per topics, category. Your team members should not need to dig into their old email messages. Also this online service should have centralized project data repository that team members can share with everyone.
The cost of IT is increasing and at the same time the productivity is decreasing due to information overall flow. The trend is already set to use software as a service and reduce upfront cost. Also your employees should be able to use productivity tools that will help them organize their activities, create to do list, find out who is doing what, share and edit files & documents from a centralized repository and respond to only few emails.
Change is inevitable and may impact a project either negatively or positively. The problem is not the change itself but how it is managed. Impact analysis is the most important step to effective change
management procedure. When a change request is made, you as a project manager need to analyse the same in order to evaluate whether it is within or outside the scope of the original project requirements as well as how it is going to impact the three constraints of your project namely scope, schedule and cost. Your impact analysis should also provide you the essential information related to the effect of change on people, processes, quality of the project and on the operation of your company. By implementing a proper impact analysis procedure, you should also be able to evaluate the overall project risks – how the change is going to alter the existing risks, whether the project is going to face new risks and the cost associated in managing those risks, if any.
Every organization has its own way of doing things and in most cases, structured processes are available. You need these organization process assets that may or may not have a formal procedure for impact analysis. However, the following guidelines will always help you understand the essentials of impact analysis procedure and how you can diligently implement it.
Step one: Do you have the money?
Every work involves some cost and the impact analysis of change requests also requires some budget especially when it is a large change request. Do you have the contingency budget to cover the cost or do you need to request the project sponsor / customer to pay for the added cost? You should discuss this with the project sponsor and always come up with adequate numbers so that you can properly make formal presentations to him and request the extra fund that you need for the impact analysis.
Step two: Determine the reason for the change
Why is the change request made in the first place? Can you avoid / defer it or is it inevitable? Determine the business need for this change and how the change is going to benefit the project, the process, the work product,the quality, the stakeholders and the organization. You should also review the Change Log to detect any similar requests in the past and the reasons for the same. If change is certain, determine what is the priority of this change in comparison to the current requests being implemented.
Step three: Analyze the impact on the triple constraint
Scope : How does the change request impact the overall Scope of the Project, Work Breakdown structure (WBS),Product Breakdown Structure (PBS) and Resource Breakdown structure (RBS)? You need to find out information in detail by identifying the product features that would need to be added, changed, or deleted, any sections of the PBS, components of the WBS that would also need to be altered as well as the resources that would be required to implement the changes. You also need to identify any changes that need to be made to the agreement with the customer or any vendor or subcontractor.
Cost : Identify any changes that need to be made to the cost management plan and the overall financial plan.Who is going to pay for the added cost of change? Find out whether it will be paid by an external sponsor. Just as in scope, you also need to identify any changes that need to be made to the agreement with the customer or any vendor or subcontractor. If subcontractors are involved, determine whether the change is going to impact the subcontracting cost. Refer to your organizational process assets and guidelines to ask for the additional cost or price for the change from the procurement department. Your impact analysis report also should highlight the financial benefit to the project and your organization. You should also document other benefits such as improved schedule, better performance, lower risk, future opportunities, stakeholder satisfaction,enhancements to the organization’s intellectual capital, and technological advancement.
Schedule : Your project needs to be completed within time otherwise you are invariably going to incur cost overruns because the project schedule is linked to scope and cost. Estimate the time required to define and plan the proposed solution and time required to implement the proposed changes. Evaluate the changes to the milestones and to the critical path. Also identify the changes that would need to be made to the project management schedule and the milestone list. Determine changes to the contractual schedule with the subcontractors. Also determine the impact of the change outside the delivery organization by identifying any changes that would need to be made to the agreement with the sponsor and with any subcontractors.
Step four: Identify dependencies
Your project activities are interwoven by complex successor relationships. Identify other tasks that are dependent on this change being approved. Also determine the predecessor relationships and prioritize the tasks that must be completed before this change is implemented. It is equally important to determine the resource dependencies and how you are going to use resources for this change. And finally, you need to identify other dependencies such as market conditions, government regulations etc.
Step five: Analyze the risks
This step requires that you identify all the risks that the project is facing or will face in the future due to this change. The impact of the change may be either favorable or adverse. Even a small change might include a high amount of risk.
Step six: Determine the impact on the Project management system
Identify and list all the changes that would need to be made to the project procedure description or to the project decision structure. You need to include changes that would need to be made to the communications management plan, the project quality plan, the risk management plan, the technical environment plan and the overall project management plan. Also determine the costs to update the project management system.
Step seven: Document your findings
Prepare a detailed and accurate report for the change control board to approve changes. In so doing, you should follow your organizational process assets and procedural guidelines to document reports of the impact analysis.When the change request is approved by the change control board, the Change Order is created. Identify the project documentation, including the Project Management System documents, which must be changed or updated to reflect the approved change. Update the financial management plan when a change has a financial impact. In order to show the changes to work items or completion dates, update the project management schedule, operational schedule, and the work breakdown structure.
Most of the change requests are associated with changes to the scope, therefore update the project definition,deliverable definition, or other documents that control the project scope. Also update the technical specifications, the test plans and the quality management plans. A great deal of a project manger’s time is spent on communication. With every approved change request, you need to prepare new reports or arrange new meetings and that is why it is imperative that you also update the communications management plan. Another important document to update is the risk register. Document all the qualitative and quantitative risks and also include updated risk definitions due to this change.
How often you should update project management system documents? Project managers always face difficulty in implementing version control for project plans, especially if changes are frequent. The best way to handle frequent change updates is to group the change requests and update them at regular intervals.
The importance of the Change Log
Your change log should be the repository for all your change related information. It should contain all change control board meeting agendas, change requests, status reports etc. You need to prepare detailed status reports for change control board, project stakeholders and the management. Use the following guidelines to prepare your status report. List
• All changes and categorize them as small and large changes
• All changes that have been raised, assessed and approved for analysis
• All changes that have been analyzed and approved for implementation
• All changes that have been implemented
• All changes that have been deferred
• All changes that have been rejected
• All changes that have been assessed, analyzed, and implemented in the reporting period
• All changes that are behind schedule in analysis or implementation
Find out whether your organization has structured processes for change management. One of the most important functions of a project manager is to prevent uncontrollable changes. To achieve this effectively, you need to introduce the change control procedure early in the project. Define a clear change management process and set up the change control board. Document the change procedures and include them in the project management system. You also need to include baseline and configuration control processes. Include a contingency budget at project planning so that you have sufficient funds to investigate and implement change requests. Many organizations use Change Request templates for proposed changes consistently throughout the project. Find out whether your company uses such templates; if not you may use a commercially available template. The idea is to maintain changes consistently throughout the project.
Stakeholders and Change Management
Project stakeholders’ interests may be positively or negatively impacted by the project and that is why their influence on the project is the most important thing to consider. Stakeholders who are found later may trigger changes and thus induce delays. A change brought in later in the day is that much harder to integrate and that much costlier.
Identify stakeholders and bring them in early. Make every effort to obtain all the requirements before the work begins. Many projects are elaborated progressively; in such a scenario project managers rely on rolling wave planning. Defining clear requirements for a project can take time and lots of communication.
An important caveat – gathers the description of the change requirements from the project stakeholders but never ask them for solutions. Your job as a project manager is to perform an impact analysis to identify the best solution for the change requested by the stakeholders. Always work with the team and identify several possible solutions for each change request. Perform an impact analysis for each solution so that you can arrive at the better choice and find possible trade-offs among the triple constraints of your project.
Impact analysis of the entire change request is an important step to prevent uncontrollable changes. If you follow a structured procedure for change request management, you will be able to handle your project more efficiently. Remember not to initiate an impact analysis or implement changes without written authorization from the project sponsor.