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Manage change requests effectively 8 min read
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For project managers, change is a constant. Even when everything goes exactly according to plan, you’re bound to have a client, team member, or other stakeholder ask for small changes along the way. That makes tracking change requests one of your most important duties as a project manager.

One way to stay on top of change requests is to require stakeholders to use change request forms. These forms document every change request and make it easy to see if the change has been approved and implemented. That means you’ll spend less time following up on change requests, giving you more time for your other duties.

In this article, you’ll learn what a change request is, how it works, and how it affects the members of a project team. We can’t guarantee that you won’t have to make changes once a project is in progress, but you’ll have a much easier time managing change requests if you start using these forms.

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What is a change request form?

A change request form is a form used to request, approve, and track project-related changes. Stakeholders request changes for many reasons, including the following:

  • One of the items you need to complete the project goes out of stock.
  • The client’s needs change, prompting them to ask for different project deliverables.
  • It takes more time than estimated to complete one of the project activities.
  • The client wants to incorporate new technology into the project.

Now that you know what a change request form is, it’s time to learn how to use one.

How do change requests work?

When a stakeholder wants to request a change, they fill out a change request form with the pertinent details. The top of the form contains some basic information, such as the project name, the name of the person who submitted the request, and the date of the request. Whoever fills out the form needs to indicate the priority level of the change, explain what impact the change will have on the project, and what might happen if the request isn’t approved.

Some change request forms include a separate section for describing how the proposed change will affect the following aspects of the project:

  • Scope
  • Risk
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Duration

Once you create a change request form, you can use it over and over again. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use change requests within the scope of project management.

Change requests within the scope of project management

First, you need to determine if the requested change is necessary and then investigate the potential impacts of the change on the project. It’s helpful to consult members of the project team and ask each one how approving the change is likely to affect them. Team members may need additional time to complete their assigned tasks or extra resources to meet the customer’s expectations. If a stakeholder asks to change the agreed upon deliverables, you may even need a bigger team to complete the project successfully.

As the project manager, you need to think about how the proposed change is likely to affect the triple constraints of time, cost, and scope of the project. If you approve the change, you may need to negotiate a later deadline or ask the client to increase the funds available for the project.

Before approving a change request, a project manager must stop to consider how the change is likely to affect the outcome of the project.

Making adjustments

If you decide to approve the change request, you’ll need to update your project plan accordingly. You may need to reschedule assigned tasks, update the work breakdown structure, or request additional resources. When you make these adjustments, be careful not to overwrite the original plan. You’ll need a copy to compare to the updated version.

Updating team members

Once you make the necessary changes to the project plan, you need to update your team members to ensure everyone is on the same page. If you have regular meetings, you can announce the change at the beginning of the next meeting and set aside some time to answer questions. If you don’t have a meeting scheduled, you can notify team members of the change by sending a detailed email or updating the project in your favorite project management software.

When change request forms should be used

Now that you know how to handle a change request, here’s some guidance on when change request forms should be used:

  • Clients should submit change request forms any time they want to make changes that are likely to affect the scope, budget, or schedule of a project.
  • Team members should fill out change request forms if they need additional resources or want to propose a change to the project plan.
  • Project sponsors should complete change requests if they want to update the terms of their sponsorship.

Change requests are useful for every project management process group, but they’re especially helpful during the planning and execution phases. When stakeholders submit their change requests in a timely manner, you have more time to approve the change and implement it.

Examples of change request forms and how they impact your team

Knowing when to use a change request form is one thing; understanding how changes are likely to affect your team is another. Here are a few examples to get you thinking about the possibilities:

  • Under the original terms of the project, your team agreed to create a JavaScript application for a client’s website. The client submitted a change request to ask you to switch from JavaScript to Python. If the change request is approved, you’ll need to add an extra programmer to your team to meet the agreed upon deadline.
  • A team member planned to complete a task on Day 12 of a project. On Day 10, they realize that the previous task will take much longer than planned. They submit a change request to ask if it’s possible to reschedule the upcoming task from Day 12 to Day 20. If you approve the request, other team members may not be able to complete their assigned tasks on time.
  • The client originally asked for a mobile app with three key features. During the planning phase of the project, they submit a change request asking for two more. If you agree that these features add value to the project, you’ll need to update the project schedule and make sure your team has enough resources to handle the additional programming.

As you can see, change request forms make it easier to anticipate how proposed changes are likely to affect a project’s scope, budget, and schedule. Using a change request template can make it even easier to review, approve, and track changes.

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How helps you manage change requests

It’s easier to review multiple change requests when they all follow the same format. With our Project Approval Template, team members can easily provide all the details you need to understand how their proposed changes are likely to affect your projects.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a change request form?

A change request form is a standard form used to request, approve, and track project changes. The form contains the name of the person requesting the change, a description of the proposed change, and the date of the request. In some cases, a change request form also includes a description of how the change is likely to affect the scope, risk, quality, cost, and duration of the project if it’s implemented.

How do you fill out a change request form?

Fill out a change request form by providing as much information as possible. If your organization uses a standard template, you may have to write down your name, the date of your request, a description of the proposed change, and your rationale for the change. You may also need to summarize how the change is likely to impact the project if it’s approved. Provide as much information as possible to help the project manager determine if the proposed change should be approved.

Any team can plan successful projects with

Every project goes through at least a few changes between the initiation phase and the closing phase. Tracking those changes makes it easier to avoid scope creep and make sure team members are on the same page. Work OS has templates and other tools to keep projects on schedule and help you track every change request.

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