Change Management

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Published on February 17, 2008

GOD, grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer

In software and technology implementation projects, there needs to be something called “Change Control”. And why is this needed? No matter how thorough the business analysis job or how complete the project plan, there’s always something that needs to be changed or added after the fact. Users and potential users of the system or technology change their minds. Or think of something that they absolutely cannot live without. Then from the technical side, the developers, programmers and implementers discover things that are incorrect or just won’t work. Programmers or testers find things called “bugs” – which is techie talk for errors or system glitches. After all, that’s what quality, quality control and testing is supposed to do – Find things that will cause less than desired results.

Testing and quality is key. And it needs to start at the beginning. Once the technology requirements are finalized, you have the basis for test scripts that can be used throughout the implementation process. There will be change. So, there needs to be an orderly process for incorporating changes and corrections / fixes.

One reason is that it helps insure that everyone on the project is in sync. It avoids duplication of effort. And, it’s less disruptive when there are multiple environments (development / test versus live / production) or multiple release versions. It’s an essential piece of the communications plan. Change control is a recipe for success. And, back to the Serenity Prayer: the introduction of new systems, features or functionality is something that can be controlled. And the smart project manager has the courage to mandate a change control process.

What we cannot change is people and how they react to change. Change, even positive change, creates stress – another thing we can’t change. What we can control is the implementation and use of programs and techniques that ease the pain and stress of change. And that’s called Change Management.

Sandra Noble

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