Here Are Three Techniques for Managing Small Scope Changes
Everyone can recognize and appreciate that a scope change request must be invoked for large changes to the project. However, you may encounter resistance to formal scope change management for small change requests. The sponsor and other project team members may consider this to be unnecessary overhead for such small decisions.
They might be right. There are three alternate techniques to employ that may help with small changes. None of these options implies that you are not managing and tracking scope changes. These are just additional techniques to use that may be more appropriate for managing small scope changes.
- Batching. It is not always practical to get the sponsor to approve all small scope change requests each time one is requested. It is a better use of time to batch the small changes up into a bundle. This means that you keep track of the small scope changes, their business value and their impact on the project. Then, when they hit a certain threshold, you take them all to the sponsor for approval. For example, instead of visiting the sponsor ten times for small scope changes, you batch the small changes together and see the sponsor one time.
- Discretion. The sponsor can delegate approval of small scope change requests to a more tactical customer manager. The ability to approve small changes usually assumes that the changes do not make the project exceed the agreed-upon cost or duration. If the project is in any risk of not meeting its cost or duration commitments, this discretion should not be used – even for a one-hour change request. In this case, all changes should go through a normal scope change process (like batching) to receive corresponding budget and schedule relief for any changes.
- Scope Change Contingency Budget. Your organization may recognize that a certain level of scope change is inevitable and you may be allowed to allocate a percentage of the total project budget to account for small changes. For example, you may have a 5% contingency added to your budget for scope change. If your total project budget was $500,000, your scope change contingency budget would be $25,000 for small scope changes. The customer must rationalize the budget to make sure all important scope changes can be accommodated. If the customer uses the budget up early on small scope changes, there will be nothing left for later change requests. This budget is used for change requests under a certain dollar or hour threshold. Larger requests still go through normal scope change management and be evaluated by the sponsor.