Perform Integrated Change Control

With excerpts from my Project Management Novel, I will illustrate the many processes of the PMBOK.  Here is the twenty-fourth one: Perform Integrated Change Control. Use this map to see how this process fits into the scheme of processes.  23 Change Control

Fred had been making good progress on the tower in his absence. They were tracking quite well against the plan. When Gwilym congratulated him on his work, Fred looked abashed. “I’ve been keepin’ them all motivated because I keep tellin’ them they can have what they want. But I’m afraid we won’t have th’time or money to pay for all my promises.”

Gwilym cocked his head and asked Fred to show him what he meant.

“It all started with arrow-slits. They asked me if we could not chink up all the spaces between th’logs so they could have places to shoot arrows if they needed to defend th’tower later. Then they asked for a railin’ on th’stairs, then a stronger set of stairs leadin’ to th’first floor. Then a road, then partitions inside for different purposes. Each man said I’d approved th’last change so this one was no big deal. I’m worried now.”

“Looks like we need some change control. Let’s get the team assembled and address this,” said Gwilym.

Fred assembled them all and Gwilym showed them the sheaf of papers with their changes on them. “Men! I have here a bunch of documents that represent all the improvements you’ve requested on this tower. Thank you for making your wishes known. We shall call them  ‘Change Requests.’ What we need to do next is use our expert judgment to analyze these requests and decide which of them get implemented.”

There was some grumbling by the men and one of them shouted, “Fred already said we could have them!”

“That’s all well and good. Fred did the right thing in writing them down and making them official. But the next step we need to perform is a change control meeting to see which we recommend to the king. He is the man with the power to decide if we implement these changes.”

“What do you mean by a change control meeting?” asked the man.

“It’s all quite simple,” replied Gwilym. “We look at each change and see what effect it has on the project. We were given four things in the charter that constrain our project.

The first is the scope: What we are building. How tall, how wide, what it’s made of, what purpose it serves, etc.

The second is the amount of time we have to build it. We must finish before Beltane.

The quality of the work we do.

The last is the amount of money we were given to do the work. That also is a fixed amount.”

“Now, certain changes you requested won’t cost the project more time or money and won’t make the scope any bigger or smaller. Those changes we can do, no problem. But any that affect the above three things, we need to get approval from the king.”

At this, the men hung their heads and started to grumble but Gwilym interrupted. “I meet with the king in another month and a half. I will carry with me any recommendations we might have for improvements to this project and seek his approval. He is not an unreasonable man. Now, let’s go through these changes you suggested.”

Gwilym and Fred had set up a project room, the walls covered with the elements of the project plan: The Charter, The Work Breakdown Structure, The Responsibility Matrix, The Schedule, and The Budget. But they also left a piece of wood clear that they wrote on with charcoal and cleaned off when it was full. This was their workspace. It was clear now in anticipation of this session. Gwilym wrote three large letters below each other on the left: S, C, O, Q. Above the S he wrote the word: ‘Change.’ Below the Q he wrote the word: ‘Recommendation.’

“Gentlemen!” he addressed his team. “S stands for the Schedule of the project. C stands for the Cost of the project. O stands for the scope of the project. Q stands for the quality of the project.”

The men nodded their heads in understanding so Gwilym continued. “We have been given a limit to all four of these constraints. Now, we’ll look at each one of these change requests to see how they affect these limits. First, you asked for arrow slits in the tower.” He wrote ‘Arrow Slits’ next to the word ‘Change.’

“I can see why you’d want them, they are a great defensive element. What’s involved in adding arrow-slits?”

“Just don’t chink up all the logs!” shouted one man. “Leave some space to shoot arrows out!”

Gwilym nodded but reminded the man, “Don’t forget we’re cladding the structure in stone so we’ll have to leave space in the stone in the correct areas. Plus we need to put the arrow-slits where the stairs give good access. No sense having an arrow slit down at your toes or above your head. It takes a little planning.”

Fred spoke up. “We have a drawing of th’tower. We know where th’stairs will be. We can leave chinkin’ out in th’right places and leave th’slits in the stone in th’same places.”

Gwilym resumed. “So there will be a few hours of time used in planning these arrow-slits, perhaps even rearranging where the inside staircase runs to take advantage of the approach routes to the tower. Arrow slits can be made anywhere in the planned levels if placed at the right height. But will that time be compensated for by the time we make up not chinking those areas?”

Men nodded agreement. “Will there be more time gained in the long run than lost?”

The men nodded harder. “Good. Now what about when we start cladding the tower in stone? We will have to arrange the stones to ensure we don’t cover up our arrow slits. Will that take more time or less than just cladding with the next stone to hand?”

The head mason spoke up. “I never clad with ‘the next stone to hand.’ I always have to look at the course I’m laying and the course below and think of what will fall above before I choose a stone to lay.”

Gwilym nodded at that and then asked the man, “So will it require more, less or the same amount of thinking adding arrow-slits?”

“More,” he agreed. “But not too much. Perhaps a couple of extra hours spread over the whole tower.”

“So then,” Gwilym summarized. “We plan for a couple of extra hours, save some time in chinking all the wood, then clad for an extra couple of hours. Does it add up to a zero addition in time?”

Men shook and nodded their heads, mumbled a little amongst themselves, then came to agreement. “It’s a wash.”

Gwilym thanked them and drew a dash next to the letter S on the wall.

“Will the addition of arrow-slits cost any extra do you think? Based on what we just discussed?”

“No!” was the consensus of the group. Gwilym drew a dash next to the letter C.

“Does it add to or take from the Scope of the tower? Is the tower better or worse for the addition of arrow slits?”

“Better!” the men agreed. Gwilym drew an arrow pointing up next to the letter O and wrote beneath it: ‘Arrow slits improve the defensibility of the tower.’

“What about the quality of the tower?” The men shook their heads and agreed that it made no difference. Gwilym drew a dash next to the Q.

Finally, next to the word ‘Recommendation’ he wrote: ‘Do it.’

The men applauded while Gwilym wrote the next change to the right of the first. ‘Stair railing.’

“The original tower planned for no railings. Adding them will take more time. How much more?”

The carpenters conferred amongst themselves and said, “About four days.” Gwilym drew a short arrow pointing to the right next to the S with a notation of four days below.

“And how much more wood will this cost?” The carpenters agreed to a cost of eighteen silver pieces. Gwilym drew an upward arrow next to the C with a notation of eighteen 18 silver next to it.

“And the scope of the tower?”

“Better! Safer! Faster to climb! Easier to defend!” were some of the various shouted answers. Gwilym drew a large upward arrow next to the O and another next to the Q and added some of the advantages.

“Now then, men,” Gwilym continued. “Since this change will cost more and take more time, we are beyond our authority to make the change. But we all think it a good idea, am I right?”

“Aye!” was the general agreement.

“Good!” said Gwilym. “Then we will recommend that the king provide us with the extra money and extra time to make this change.” He wrote next to Recommendation, ‘Recommend.’

There was some beard scratching at that but Gwilym moved on to the next change. He wrote: ‘Stronger first stairs’ next to ‘Change.’ The men could see the graphic nature of this work, the way the few words and the arrows made it clear which changes made sense and which were unlikely to.

“Why the stronger stairs leading to the first floor?” he asked. “Remember, these are outside and meant to be destroyed quickly when enemies arrive.”

The men looked at each other until one spoke up. “We don’t get a lot of enemies here. We figured it would be mostly for our own uses so we wanted strong stairs.”

“Yet you are adding arrow-slits,” pointed out Gwilym.

The man blushed but stood his ground. “They’re safer too, just like the railing we recommend.”

“Fair enough,” said Gwilym. “How much extra time to build stronger stairs?”

“Maybe three days,” said the carpenter. “But they can be done at the same time as other things so they shouldn’t slow down the whole project.”

“Good point!” agreed Gwilym, looking at the schedule. “The outside stairs are not on the critical path of the project. So it costs the project no extra time.” He drew a dash next to the letter S on the wall.

“But I imagine you expect me to pay for these three extra days. How much?”

“Six silver for the two of us. Plus the extra wood and stronger pieces will add another ten silver.” Gwilym drew an upward arrow with sixteen silver next to the C.

“When you gave me your estimate for the railing,” Gwilym asked. “Did you add your time into the estimate?”

“No!” was the response. “The eighteen silver was just for the wood. You need to add another eight for our time.” Gwilym changed to cost of the previous change to twenty-six. “Do we still recommend the railings?”

“Yes!” was the answer Gwilym expected but he wanted the men to do the work.

“All right,’ he continued. “So making the stairs stronger take no extra time but cost sixteen extra silver. What does it do to the scope of the tower?”

“It increases,” said the carpenter.

Gwilym drew an upward arrow and wrote: ‘Stronger stairs’ below it.

“Does the quality of the tower increase or decrease?” he asked.

“It’s safer to use,” said one.

“Easier to storm,” said another.

“You could fight off some of the enemy from the landing if it was strong,” said a third.

“But you remove the whole purpose of it if it’s there when your enemies arrive,” argued the second man again. “The stairs are meant to be thrown down or burned when the enemies get to the tower. If they are standing, they can easily storm the door and get in!”

“What is your consensus?” asked Gwilym.

“The quality is decreased. The tower is too easy to storm with strong stairs.” This was the second man again. He stared down the rest of the team. They seemed cowed.

Gwilym wanted to achieve consensus on this issue so he addressed the rest of the team. “Do you all agree? Remember, you are who will have to live and fight in this tower. Is the performance less than with the original stairs?”

They talked amongst themselves, then eventually reached agreement. “It’s worse,” said the man who originally wanted the change. “The tower becomes much more dangerous.”

Gwilym drew a long downwards arrow next to the letter Q and pointed at the word ‘Recommendation.’

The men answered him before he could ask. “Don’t do it!” they shouted. Gwilym smiled and wrote those words in that column.

Change request

In the same manner, the road was considered part of the job as long as it was created with scraps from building the tower. Anything more than that was out of the project’s scope and was not recommended. Partitions inside would cost a lot of money and time and was recommended as a follow-on project. The team worked together on all the changes that had been requested of Fred and dispositioned them to their satisfaction.

Gwilym addressed the team when they were done. “I thank you all for your time. I have a list of recommendations I will take with me to the king during the next performance report. We won’t start on any of the extra work unless he agrees with our recommendations and gives us the extra money needed. Meanwhile, since we are asking for more time and our timeline already brings us close to the Beltane deadline, I suggest we work efficiently to get ahead of schedule.”