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A change management process is a series of business practices used to control and manage change within a large system or organization. The term is most commonly used in systems engineering or large construction projects. The purpose of change management is to ensure there is clear communication between the client and the service provider about the requested variation from the accepted specifications, the impact on the time line, and the projected cost of those changes. An added bonus to this process is the validation of authorization for the change requests.
The entire change management process is comprised of three items: requesting the change, evaluation of time and cost to make the change, and implementing the changes. These steps remain the same if the project is an information technology project or a construction project. It is worth noting that a strict adherence to a formal change management process is recognized by the courts as a valid tool for managing changes to contracts. Changes requested and approved through the process must be paid for by the firm, regardless to the authority of the requester. It is assumed that the firm designed a business practice that followed its internal approval process.
To manage the requests for change, many companies design a form that provides all the required information. For example, a change request form typically requires the name of the requester and his or her title, the business rational for the request, the functionality required, and the overall implications. The names of the people responsible and who will test and accept the changes are also included. Upon receipt and review of the form, the system administrator assigns a tracking number to the request.
The person responsible for the system or project now reviews the request details and calculates the resources required, time allocation, and any costs associated with the implementation of this change. During this process, there may be questions or clarification required from the requester. This information is incorporated into the change request form.
If the costs are accepted, then the request is typically added to a prioritized list of other change requests, as part of the change management process. The work is assigned to a specific area, who will liaison with the system or project manager to clarify requirements, and make the necessary changes. In an information technology environment, these changes are made in a testing system. It is the responsibility of the testers to ensure the changes meet their original requirements and do not create negative results. Upon successful completion of testing, the changes are moved into the production or live system. Any issues or new problems created as a result of this change are reviewed and may result in additional cycles of changes, testing, and implementation.