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Announce Changes and Avoid Wig-Outs

breaking pencilIn previous posts, I have discussed best practices around Change Control. Or, maybe I should say “lack of best practices” since so many organizations either fail to follow a defined process or simply don’t have one. I shared one commonly used approach in my previous blog post. To recap, a typical Change Control process usually goes like this:

  • The business or project stakeholder decides they want to change some functionality
  • The team assesses the request to understand cost and schedule impact
  • The request either gets approved or denied
  • The plan is updated if the request is approved

Looks innocent enough, right?

Not necessarily. Even when a seemingly clear-cut process like this is followed step-by-step, it leaves the door open for wig-outs because people feel left out of the loop.  As you’ve probably witnessed, some people go into wig-out mode when they find out about a change even if the process was followed.  Usually, this is because they are feeling in the dark. You may get executives saying things like, “Who said we should do this change? I want to go back to the original plan.”  We have to ask the question, if we follow the process, why is this happening?

For one thing, most of the change control meetings I’ve been at are done via conference call. Usually, there are too many people on the call and attentions spans are very short or non-existent. In any kind of meeting where attention spans are short and there are too many people, there are more than enough opportunities for miscommunication.

Another reason for the wig-out surprise is that many busy decision makers delegate change control decisions to other executives. That’s one more opportunity for a lapse in communication.

The “Announcement”

I propose adding a new step to the Change Control process described at the beginning of this post.  In this new, separate step, a dedicated announcement email or communication is sent to all of the people connected to the project.  No noise, or miscellaneous status. It cannot be part of the status report. It would be a separate email that simply summarizes decisions made in the Change Control process.

It would provide:

  • Details about the requests
  • What requests have been approved and/or denied along with the reasoning
  • The projected impact

To repeat, this announcement is separate from status reports and other reports. It is specifically about changes and why they are happening or not happening.  Implementation of this step will reassure people that they will not be left out of the loop, eliminating the wig-out factor.

Each company’s change control process has a different rhythm, and the announcement would summarize activity of the prior period.

While just a small change,  I think it will help generate a clear and common view of decisions made (including approved and rejected requests) across all stakeholders.

Here’s Your Call To Action

Look at your current change control process.   If you are not following the disciplines outlined in my previous blogs, I recommend that you start there.  Then add the simple announcement step summarizing decisions made in change control. See if that email can help your process today.

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Category: Business-IT Alignment, For Practitioners, Team Dynamics