Themes « About PRINCE2 « References

Why is it important?

A project takes place in a changing environment and therefore it is inevitable that also the project will be affected with changes.

Changes can be caused by external events, but also as a result of increased knowledge and understanding. It is impossible to foresee or plan every single detail in advance. On the other hand, changes could also jeopardize the project. This does not only apply to large, thorough changes, but also apparently small changes could have a disastrous impact on the progress and control of the project.

For this, a project must allow changes, but in a controlled manner. Every change must be approved by the relevant authority, before its implementation. And that is the purpose of the theme Change.

Terms and definitions

Issue and change control can only be effective if it is supported by a configuration management system.
A system which simplifies an examination of the impact of changes and prevents changes from taking place before they are agreed by the relevant authority.

Configuration management includes the following basic elements:
Baseline: a snapshot of a product, frozen at a point of time, to maintain a specific status of the product.
Version: if a product changes, the baseline persists, and a new version is created.
Release: a complete and consistent set of products which are managed, tested and transferred to user(s) as one.

PRINCE2 uses the term issue to cover all relevant points of interest in a project. The different types of issue can be:
Request for change: a proposal for a change to a baseline.
Off-specification: a deliverable will not or shall not be delivered.
Problem/concern: all other points of interest which must be resolved.

What is the PRINCE2 approach?

The approach to handle issues and changes in the project is determined during Initiating a Project in the Configuration Management Strategy. Based on the corporate or programme policy and processes, the configuration management procedure is determined, as well as the issue and change control procedure that will be applied, the techniques and tools to be used and who will be responsible for all of this.

Configuration management (procedure)
Accurate registration and protection of the project's products is crucial for the project. The products are the vital things of value (assets) of the project and the organization. Configuration management describes the management of the project's products: recording all information of these products and checking changes on these products. Configuration management is mandatory for both specialist as management products. The degree of formality to be used by configuration management will be determined by project/organization.

Configuration management prevents products from getting lost and gives a clear view to the status of each product at any moment in time (where is which version, who works on it). It also prevents that several versions are modified simultaneously. Configuration management also provides a back-up, so that there always is a way back if a product, which is released for a modification, is lost. Configuration management and issue and change control work closely together.

Configuration management procedures consist of the following core activities:
Planning: deciding what level of configuration management is necessary and how this will be organized. Which products will be managed by configuration management?
Identification: specifying and identifying all required components of the project's products.
Control: monitoring and baselining completed (end) products and release products for modification after the appropriate authorisation. This activity also includes obtaining and recording all relevant information for this (Configuration Item Records).
Status accounting: reporting on all relevant current and historical information on products in the form of a Product Status Account (e.g. at the end of a stage or the project, as part of examining issues and risks).
Verification and audit: regular checking (reviews and configuration audits) to compare if the current status of products corresponds with the registered status.

The recommendation for a project's configuration management is to align as good as possible with the policy and processes of the organization. Possibly central facilities and/or systems can be used.

Issue and change control procedure
The issue and change control procedure provides a common approach to deal with issues. The nature, size and complexity of the project determines the level of detail required.

Figure 9.1 Issue and change control procedure

Capture: determine the issue and issue type.
Determine the issue type (request for change, off-specification or problem/concern).
Determine whether the issue can be treated formally or informally.
Informal issues can be managed by the Project Manager using corrective actions.
Formal issues are entered in the Issue Register and an Issue Report is created.
An Issue Register is a log to capture and maintain information concerning formal issues.
An Issue Report is a report containing the description, the impact analysis and recommended solutions for a formal issue.

Examine: assess the issue.
The Project Manager determines what the impact is (or will be) on:
- The objectives of the project, in terms of time, cost, quality and scope.
- The Business Case, in terms of the expected benefits.
- The risk profile, the risk exposure of the project.
Based on the impact analysis, the severity and priority of the issue should be re-evaluated.

Propose: suggest options to respond to the issue.
There is considered which alternative options are possible to respond to the issue.
Each option is evaluated for the impact on time, cost, quality, scope and risks.
A recommendation is given about a course of action to take. There must be a balance between the advantage to be gained by implementing the option and the time, cost and risks of implementing it.

Decide: decide which option(s) to carry out to respond to the issue.
The Project Manager may be able to decide about issues within tolerance and issues on products which are not yet baselined. All other issues must be escalated to the Project Board (or Change Authority).
The proposed options may be approved, rejected or deferred.
The Project Board (or Change Authority) may decide to accept an off-specification without immediate action. This is referred to as a concession.

Implement: carry out the option(s) for the issue.
The Project Manager will either begin the corrective actions (updated or new Work Package) or produce an Exception Plan for approval by the Project Board (or Change Authority).
The Issue Register and Issue Report is updated with the decision and interested parties are informed by the Project Manager. Once the issue is closed, the Issue Register and Issue Report are updated.

The Project Board may appoint a Change Authority. The Change Authority is an entity with one or more members. The Change Authority is authorized to decide about changes within pre-agreed limits of time and cost. A limit per change and/or a change budget per stage may be considerable. A change budget is a sum money, provided to fund the handling of requests for change.
This will prevent an escalation to the entire Project Board in case of small changes.

What are the responsibilities?

Corporate or programme management
Provide the corporate or programme strategy for change control and configuration management.
Determine the Change Authority and change budget.
Set the severity classification for issues.
Set the priority classification for requests for change and off-specification.
Respond to requests for advice from the Project Manager.
Decide on escalated issues, focused on continued business justification.
Senior User
Respond to requests for advice from the Project Manager.
Decide on escalated issues, focused on the protection of the expected benefits.
Senior Supplier
Respond to requests for advice from the Project Manager.
Decide on escalated issues, focused on the protection of the integrity of the complete solution.
Project Manager
Manage the configuration management procedure, assisted by Project Support when possible.
Manage the issue and change control procedure, assisted by Project Support when possible.
Create and maintain the Issue Register, assisted by Project Support when possible.
Implement corrective actions.
Team Manager
Implement corrective actions.
Project Assurance
Advise on examining and resolving issues.
Project Support Administer the configuration management and issue and change control procedures:
Assist the Project Manager during the maintenance of the Issue Register.

Used sources

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, 2009 edition