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Avoid Bad Changes and be prepared for Good Changes

In an APM Introductory Course training session I was facilitating recently, while discussing change control in projects we got into a discussion on whether changes in projects is always a bad thing. After all, when you are managing change, it takes time to process, it may delay the progress in those areas and it may lead to increased budget and time for the project- overall it creates a lot of headaches for a lot of project teams. So it must be a bad thing, right?

Well, while chatting about this of course we came to see that change is not always bad at all. In fact we could think of numerous examples of situations where change was good for the project, a necessary means of adapting to the ever changing environment in which all projects are delivered; be it a response to a technical innovation, an update to legislation or a change in the market conditions which saves the very prospect of delivering the benefits of the project.

One other thing we could agree on in the class is that you may perceive what you could call ‘good changes’ and ‘bad changes’.

The ‘good changes’ are what I mentioned above, changes that come from causes outside your own project’s control, from the environmental context, changes that the project has to be prepared to react to. Good practice project management will allow you to be prepared for these changes to the environment, through properly identifying the possibilities through risk management, or by building the capability to respond to them through proper monitor, control, stakeholder engagement or communication.  The changes may not always be good for the project, but I am terming them ‘good changes’ here in the sense that the project team is not at fault for them and so it can be considered good and justified management work to deal with them.

The ‘bad changes’ can be thought of differently, changes that come up as a direct result of errors, omissions or inaccuracies in the planning of your project that need to be corrected through change control. These changes are ‘bad’ in the sense that they should be entirely avoidable with good practice project management. To spend precious management time and effort during the implementation of the project, causing delay and increasing expense as a result of incomplete planning is ‘bad change’ as it is the fault of the project teams themselves, and as such should be avoided at all costs.

How can these ‘bad changes’ be avoided? The simple answer is a more knowledgeable team, who are conscious of the need to ensure the baseline plan is as detailed and accurate as possible.

This blog idea was the result of a real an interesting conversation that took place in a facilitated training session just this week. We try to bring the topic alive by creating discussion points throughout our courses. Do you have anything to add to the discussion? We’d love to hear it! Email us below or tweet us with your thoughts.