Project Management
Published December 07th, 2016 by

Handling Scope Changes Effectively in 7 Steps

A project scope defines the boundaries and deliverables of a project. In the beginning, it provides a working framework on what must be accomplished and how to execute them. However, when a project has been approved by sponsors and rolled out, changes often are necessary. If you approach those changes well, the project execution and delivery would remain as planned and not be interrupted.
Thus, it is always a challenge for a good project manager to understand how to handle scope changes effectively, which can be done in seven simple steps.

First, prepare a scope change process.
A simple scope change process is the framework of a good change management. Categorize changes based on the size of the change, which determines the amount of resources required. For small changes, determine beforehand the method of request change accepted, which can be in the form of a short email or a short request form.
For larger changes, the request must be formally sent via the so-called Scope Change Request Form. It is a specifically designed form for the project, which is to be filled out by the requestor regarding the details of changes required. For both small and large changes, requests must be done in writing. No verbal request can be accepted for clarity and legality purposes.

Second, as soon as you receive a request for change, enter it in the Scope Change Log.
Record the change request in the log. Be as detailed as possible for future reference. It will be used for tracking purposes and communicating updates to team members and stakeholders.

Third, take note of business value and project impact.
The person who requested for the change must provide an explanation of business value and impact of the project. This way, the person-in-charge has a reference on whether to proceed with the change or not. Before making the decision, the PIC usually assigns an investigation and analysis of the value and impact.

Fourth, request for a resolution from the sponsor.
Bring the change request and notes of business value and project impact to the sponsor, so you can ask for a resolution on whether or not the change is approved. After considering the notes, the sponsor would approve or reject the change request.

Fifth, record the course of action or changes taken on Scope Change Log and update the budget (if approved).
Change the “approved” or “not approved” change status on Scope Change Log and update the budget if it is approved. A brief explanation on the approval status would provide some information that might be useful in future projects.

Sixth, update the Project Charter.
Update the charter as necessary. Like the log, recording the history of a project might be useful for future projects. Sometimes similar decisions must be made in the future. Thus past decisions have actual learning value that can be used to answer future questions.

Seventh, communicate scope change status, action taken, and resolution to all team members and stakeholders involved.
Attach the Scope Change Log to the status report to formalize the change. This way, the team members would understand what to do next in ensuring successful project execution.

In conclusion, making changes in a project can be done in a simple manner, as long as the steps are recorded properly for clarity and legality purposes. In the end, a successful project is more than delivering optimized outputs; it is also about knowledge management for future learning needs.

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Sanket Pai

Head - Product & Customer Experience at Celoxis Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Sanket Pai is currently heading the Product & Customer Experience team at Celoxis , an all-in-one online project management software. His interests lie in Product Management, Digital Marketing, Business Analysis, Innovation Management, Customer Insights, Research, and Experience through Design Thinking pedagogy and application of Business Design.
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