Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sacred PM Practices - Change Management

Projects, large and small, must respond to a constant bombardment of proposed changes from customers, upper management, the business, the market, and perhaps even the federal government (e.g., regulatory changes). For a project to be successful, it must formally manage these changes. Or so I thought.


  • The majority of projects (56%) were successful without formal change management procedures (e.g., documented procedures, forms to be completed, consensus approval).
  • Of the 44% that reported formal change management activities, many project managers reported that the formality was absolutely critical to the success of the project.

I have rarely witnessed formal change management. I have often seen formal change management implemented, but rarely executed. There are forms, procedures, a change control board for those organizations very serious about change. From my viewpoint most of the time, the forms are not completed, the procedure description collects dust, and the change control board meets infrequently. Yet, some projects are successful.

Have you seen/lived formal change? Has it meant the difference between project success and project failure?

Introduced in a Jan 25, 2009 posting, this research project studied the project characteristics of large, successful IT projects.


  1. The role of change management depends much on team organization. If the team is led by reasonable program manager who can make wise decision on whether to include specific changes in version or not formal process isn't so important.

    On the other hand following agile methods with conservatively also brings you a tool to deal with change management - only a specific amount of things can be done in iteration and if you add something you have to throw something else out. You can call it a formal process (which it pretty much is when you think about it) but I think it isn't formal in a way your respondents considered.

  2. change control is a contract management tool. It helps you justify changes to schedule and budget, but success sin't really measured by OTOBOS is it?