Essential Elements of a Project Change Control System

At the heart of managing project changes well is a project change control system. The specifics of project change control systems can vary depending on industry, organization, and project importance, but there are essential principles, guidelines, and components that every change control system should possess.


Effective project change control systems follow these key principles:

  • Any proposed scope change is documented, evaluated, and approved before it is implemented.
  • The appropriate stakeholders are involved in the evaluation and approval process.
  • Any change request is thoroughly assessed for impact to other project critical success factors, especially project schedule and budget.
  • The appropriate management level approves any change request before it is implemented.
  • All project changes are documented and communicated to all stakeholders
  • Any stakeholder is permitted to submit a project change request
  • The rules are firm, the roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and the workflow process meets the needs of all stakeholders.


In addition to the principles we reviewed, these guidelines should be considered for an effective project change control system:

  • Re-baseline The project plan should be updated to reflect the acceptance of any change to the critical success factors. A new performance baseline should be established.
  • Multiple paths The change control system should consider multiple process paths based on estimated impact of the change request and the thresholds negotiated with senior management. This allows the appropriate stakeholders and management levels to be involved when needed and at the right time.
  • Focus on "buy-in" Especially on proposed scope changes, make sure the right stakeholders are involved, understand the need and impact of the proposed change, and agree to the action plans before proceeding.
  • Aligned with contract If your project involves contractual arrangements, make sure the project's change control process is aligned with the change control process used to manage the contract with the vendor(s).


There are no requirements from a technology perspective when it comes to project change control systems. They can leverage manual processes or utilize enterprise software packages. The key is that the following components are present, understood, and utilized:


Capture completion criteria for any scope-related change request

  • Change Request Form This form is used to capture the pertinent details of the proposed change and the key information resulting from the impact assessment. Recommended form sections and data fields are listed in Table 11.2.

    Table 11.2. Recommended Change Request Form Sections and Fields


    Data Fields


    Change Request Number (ID

    Date Received

    Date Revised

    Project Number (ID)

    Project Name

    Organization/Client Reference

    Requester Information

    Requestor Name


    Contact Info (email, phone, etc.)

    Change Information

    Description of Change Request

    Reason for Change (Issue, Benefits, etc.)


    Impact Assessment

    Stakeholders Impacted

    Deliverables Impacted

    Required Work Tasks

    Est. Effort Impact (Hours)

    Est. Cost Impact

    Est. Schedule Impact

    Expected Benefits

    Completion Criteria

    Status Information

    Status (Submitted, Assigned, Evaluated, Pending Decision, Closed)

    Assigned To

    Assigned Date

    Decision (Approved, Deferred, Rejected)

    Decision Date

    Target Implementation Date/Milestone


    Approval Signatures

  • Unique Identification Number When a change request is submitted for evaluation, a unique identification number should be assigned to facilitate better communications and tracking.
  • Change Request Tracking Log The tracking log communicates summary information on all project change requests. Minimal information will include identification, impact summary, and current status. Spreadsheets and databases are common tools for tracking logs.
  • Change Control Board (CCB) The minimum set of project stakeholders who need to review and approve any change request impacting the project's critical success factors.

Ultimately, the determination of any change request is a consensus-based, cost-benefit decision made by the stakeholders accountable for the project.

Part i. Project Management Jumpstart

Project Management Overview

The Project Manager

Essential Elements for any Successful Project

Part ii. Project Planning

Defining a Project

Planning a Project

Developing the Work Breakdown Structure

Estimating the Work

Developing the Project Schedule

Determining the Project Budget

Part iii. Project Control

Controlling a Project

Managing Project Changes

Managing Project Deliverables

Managing Project Issues

Managing Project Risks

Managing Project Quality

Part iv. Project Execution

Leading a Project

Managing Project Communications

Managing Expectations

Keys to Better Project Team Performance

Managing Differences

Managing Vendors

Ending a Project

Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
Absolute Beginner[ap]s Guide to Project Management
ISBN: 078973821X
Year: 2006
Pages: 169 © 2008-2020.
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