Project Management: PRINCE2 Change

25.07.2021Project Management: PRINCE2 Change

In other PRINCE2 themes, we have seen how Project Managers work to Organise, Plan, manage Risk and Quality to ensure a Projects success. But despite all of this work, change is inevitable, even in the most prepared Project!

There is nothing permanent except change

HERACLITUS

Projects, though set up to achieve a particular product(s) according to a business case, do not exist in isolation. They take place in a wider context and organisational environment, both of which can change over time. It is rare that a project closes having delivered exactly what was envisaged at its initiation (see Risk)


Change Management

Every project will encounter change, sometimes a positive, other times a negative. If we accept that some change is inevitable, how that change is dealt with becomes imperative. The purpose of the PRINCE2 Change theme is to approach change in a reliable and controlled manner. The Change theme aims to develop a reliable change management approach, to enable the Project Manager to deal with each potential change, while maintaining the stability and security of the project.

The Change Theme is not just about handling change requests but is also about handling issues that arise during the project. In fact, it is better to say that the Change Theme provides a common approach to Issues and Change Control.

Issue and Change control is a continual activity, performed throughout the lifetime of a project.


Without an ongoing and effective issue and change control procedure, a project will either become unresponsive to its stakeholders or drift out of control

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - Axelos

Change is an Issue

In PRINCE2, changes are identified as 'issues' - this covers any relevant event that has happened, was not planned, and requires management action. Issues can be raised at any time during a project and by anyone with an interest in the project or its outcome.

According to PRINCE2, project issues can be categorised into three areas:

  • A request for change is a request to change a baseline, e.g., a request to change the requirements for a product.
  • An off-specification identifies a current requirement that the project either does not fulfil, or is forecasted not to fulfil.
  • A problem/concern is essentially anything else that either needs to be resolved by the Project Manager or needs to be escalated to a higher level of management.

A baseline is a reference level against which an entity is monitored and controlled

MANAGING SUCCESSFUL PROJECTS WITH PRINCE2 - AXELOS

The Issue Register records all project issues that are to be managed in a formal manner. It is created during the initiation stage and maintained by the Project Manager or Project Support. It contains information such as a description of the issue, the individuals involved in dealing with it, and an evaluation of its priority and severity.

Each entry in the Issue Register has its own Issue Report, which offers up-to-date information about the issue’s status at any given point in the issue management process, including its impact on the project and on plans.


Practical Steps to deal with Change

When an issue has been identified, the PRINCE2 method has a five-step procedure for dealing with the issue:

  1. Capture the issue information in the Issue Register (or Daily Log for informal management) and create an Issue Report
  2. Examine the issue and assess the impact it can have on the project if change is initiated
  3. Evaluate alternatives and recommend the proposed action necessary to handle the issue
  4. The Project Manager, Project Board or Change Authority will make a decision regarding the action to be taken
  5. Implement the authorised corrective action and update the appropriate Logs and Registers

In order to ensure that the project can afford to make changes without threatening project or stage cost tolerances, it is crucial to designate a separate change budget. This can be calculated by anticipating what level of change is probable, e.g., by considering the level of Risk in a Project


Change Authority

The Project Board have ultimate responsibility for the delivery of a project. However it may not be practical to include them in considering every change request. This is often when a Change Authority is appointed with delegated power to review change requests.

Representing users and suppliers, and sometimes other stakeholders, the Change Authority are given a level of autonomy to determine how a change budget is spent. This approach avoids often lengthily and inefficient decision making, where only changes that would exceed the change budget, or indeed any other tolerance, such as the project schedule, being escalated to the Project Board.

Change budget is the money allocated to the change authority available to be spent on authorised requests for change. This is agreed at the Initiation Stage


Controlling Change

Every time that a baseline is changed, a new version of the associated product (or product component, or even set of products) is created. In order to protect and control these multiple versions, the Project Manager must ensure adequate configuration management, or chaos will ensue!

The approach to Configuration is contained in the Configuration Management Strategy which is agreed during the initiation stage. This details the following:

  • Configuration management
    • procedure
    • schedule
    • tools and techniques
    • roles and responsibilities
  • Issue and change control
    • procedure
    • activities
  • Reporting requirements for both procedures
  • Priority/severity scales for project issues
  • Contents and format of Configuration Item Records

A product (or product component/set) that is subject to configuration management is known as a configuration item. Each configuration item will have a Configuration Item Record, which documents its history, current version number and status, its location, copy-holders, related products and any related issues and risks.


In R&D environments, change is inevitable, and controlling change is of the upmost importance. AEON manage their projects by combining PRINCE2 Project Management and Systems Engineering to effectively map a Project in its entirety, never loosing site of our Clients Requirements. Get in touch with our expert team of Project Managers and Engineering Experts.