All projects are subject to change throughout the project life cycle. Insufficient recognition of changes and/or ineffective management of changes are among the most common reasons for project failure and dilution of the benefits delivered. Neither changes nor issues can be eliminated as both are normal project occurrences. Successfully managing such occurrences is a major challenge for the project manager.
Structured and comprehensive procedures for managing both changes and issues reduce project risks and are therefore essential components of a Project Management Methodology. Any changes to a signed-off or baseline deliverable must go through the structured change control process.
Within the context of Project management, the following definitions have been developed:
- A Change is any activity that alters the scope, deliverable, architecture, cost or schedule of a project.
- An Issue is a situation, action, problem or question arising during the performance of the project which demands action to resolve it over and above the tasks identified in the plan. Left unresolved, an issue will impede or prohibit project-related progress or development by delaying or suspending work effort.
The primary objective of change control and issue resolution is to establish a standard method to document, analyse, approve, and communicate changes and issue resolutions. Figure 1 illustrates the many varied sources of change potentially impacting a project. Many types of issues will arise also during a project. Generally, issues can be classified as technical, organisational, communication, or management.