Project Management PMBOK – Monitoring and Change Control

From time to time on this blog forum, I have talked about PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge) as an industry standard on areas of PM responsibility and best practices. If you are a new PM, this book paints the entire project management field with a broad brush of process and organizational recommendations. (What is PMBOK)

Chapter 3 of PMBOK introduces process groups whose responsibility it is to “ensure the effective flow of the project throughout its existence”. There are five recommended process groups:

  • Initiating – defines a new project and obtains authorization to begin
  • Planning – establishes scope, refines objectives, defines course of action
  • Executing – oversees those processes performed to complete project work
  • Monitoring and controlling – all processes required to track, review, regulate the project against the project plan
  • Closing – finalize activities and formally close the project

Included within the monitor and control process group lives a responsibility that carries all kinds of hidden risks that can put a project in the ditch if not done well – integrated change management.  In Chapter 4 of PMBOK, we are told that any stakeholder can request project changes – and believe me, they will!

Requests to change some or multiple aspects of a project whether its adding a data source, modifying the user interface, or improving performance are as likely as death and taxes. Writing for Evolt, Martin Burns reminds PMs of the many times that sales or senior management respond to a customer change request with, “sure we can do that”. The PM, product manager or process control person receives an email or a phone call that presents the change request as if it were fait accompli.  So what do you do?

Tempting as it might be for a PM to declare “no changes”, “no way”, “never”. That approach pleases neither senior management nor the ultimate customer. Instead, Burns suggests not saying “no”, but saying something like, “Your request makes sense, but it raises potential risks, issues and effort that might cost time and money.” (Try to say this without a sarcastic tone)

The Hendon Group suggests that project managers or process control groups need to know the following about a requested change:

  • Why is a change being requested?
  • Does the change have a direct impact on whether the program/project goals and objectives, as stated in the Program/Project Charter, are met?
  • Can the change be implemented in a subsequent project and/or phase?
  • What impact will the change have on cost, schedule and/or quality of the currently defined scope?

Change requests must be documented and evaluated
A formal process to manage change is a “PM best practice”. This is even more important when team members are dispersed geographically, are working on a large project with interdependent modules, or when the project includes multiple organizations, according to a report from Forrester Consulting.  Most software development companies, and all large companies in the Forrester survey, have formal change management processes. Almost half of the surveyed companies use automated tools to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of all their change management. An additional 36% of the companies use tools to automate some of their change management process.

Now, I want to state for the record that “formal” does not mean expensive, time consuming, or complex.  It just means it is documented, socialized, enforced and used.  I also recommend using some kind of tool to help with change management.  The tool and process needs to be sufficient for your organization so there is NOT one tool that fits all.

Here are a few examples that span the broad spectrum of tools:

This is just a few of the ideas of how you can automate and support your change management process and give yourself more time to actually monitor your project better.

How does your organization management change requests? How successful is your process?


Is the sustained recession effecting project resource management?

Software development organizations are not immune to the effect of our country’s sustained recession. There is pressure from all sides – senior management, customers and other stakeholders — to cut costs and comply with budgets.  The largest component of project costs and schedule variance fall under the purview of resource management. In my experience, ineffective resource management is one of the primary causes of project failure and its impact is even more important in today’s economic climate.

Smart resource management decisions begin with knowledge. I believe it is important to all of us to understand how organizations are handling resource management — what works, what does not work,  how does it work — and to share that knowledge.  

Cognitive Technologies would appreciate your help.
Project resource management is "the planning, allocating, and scheduling of resources to tasks, generally including manpower, machine, money, and materials. In 2009, Cognitive Technologies supported research on resource management tools and processes. Our findings are posted on our website as well as discussed in three previous posts – (2009 Project Resource Management Survey,  Project Management Resource Survey 2009 – Results, Project Management Resource Survey 2009–Challenges).

In 2010, working with Christina Jackson from The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, Cognitive Technologies is conducting a further survey to study resource management practices and their impact on overall project success. The survey contains:

  • Basic profile questions about your organization, so that we can determine how practices vary by organization size, type (e.g., commercial, government, non-profit), industry, and how beliefs vary by the title of the respondent
  • Questions to assess the usage of resource management tools and processes and the existence of any challenges across organizations

I would sincerely appreciate it if you could take 10 minutes to complete the survey and help us ensure a broad representative sample of project managers and project resource management. You will find the survey at Just press “Continue” at the bottom of the screen to get started.

We will keep your answers strictly confidential. To thank you for participating, you will receive a complimentary gift and a digital copy of the final report including comparison with the 2009 survey in September.


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