Change Control Terms in Project Management

  • Project Management
Created on :
July 6, 2023
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
July 10, 2023

In this Article

Change is a fundamental aspect of reality, and projects, being executed within this dynamic environment, are inevitably impacted by change. In our previous article, “Change Management in Project Management: A Dual-Dimensional Approach,” we explored the bi-directional relationship of change within a project’s lifecycle. We analyzed how projects can instigate organizational changes and, conversely, how alterations within an organization can influence a project’s trajectory.

In this article, we aim to illuminate eight pivotal terms related to change in project management. Our objective is to enhance your comprehension and comfort level with these concepts, thus facilitating your preparation for the PMP Certification.


Change, within a project context, refers to any modification applied to a formally controlled deliverable, project plan, or project document. The threshold at which modifications to deliverables, plans, or documents qualify as ‘change’ is largely dependent on the specific project context. This boundary should be clearly defined by the project manager within the framework of the change control plan. It is this plan that ensures changes are carefully monitored, evaluated, and executed, maintaining the project’s balance between innovation and control.

Change Control System

Change Control System: This is a set of procedures designed to manage and control changes in a project. The system utilizes specific tools and methods to ensure all proposed changes are thoroughly reviewed for potential impacts. It helps in tracking modifications, encourages communication among stakeholders, and records the process. Depending on the project’s needs, the system can be either automated or manual.

Change Control Plan

Change Control Plan: As a part of the project management plan, the Change Control Plan offers a strategy for managing changes within the project. It includes details like who can approve changes, how these changes will be recorded, and the methods for carrying out impact analyses. Essentially, the Change Control Plan spells out how the Change Control System will be rolled out in the project, providing a clear path for handling any change.

Change Management

Change Management is often confused with Change Control, a conflation that is even evident in PMBOK 6. However, it’s essential to clarify that Change Management is a holistic approach designed to guide individuals, teams, structures, cultures, and the entire organization from their existing state to a desired future state, thereby ensuring the realization of intended business benefits. It is a broad strategy that encompasses more than controlling changes within a project; it involves empowering and navigating people and systems through the transformation process to meet business objectives effectively.

Configuration Management System (CMS)

The Configuration Management System (CMS) serves as an indispensable tool within project management, meticulously tracking and regulating all project components—such as project documents, plans, and deliverables, collectively termed as Configuration Items (CIs). As a comprehensive repository, the CMS diligently records and communicates the status of these CIs, including any alterations that occur over time. It safeguards crucial data regarding the interconnections between these items, thereby simplifying the task of impact assessment whenever a change is introduced. The CMS could be seamlessly integrated into the wider Project Management Information System (PMIS).

Examining its interplay with Change Control:

Change Control is a significant aspect of the broader Change Management procedure, primarily focusing on handling suggested modifications to a project or system. Any proposed change might have potential ramifications on one or more configuration items. The CMS plays an instrumental role here, providing vital intelligence to the Change Control process regarding the potential impact on CIs from a proposed alteration. This input aids in comprehensively understanding the implications of a suggested change and subsequently, in deciding whether the change should be authorized. Following the approval and execution of a change, the CMS is revised to accurately represent the updated state of the configuration items. Thus, the Configuration Management System operates as the technical fulcrum of change control, with the latter emphasizing the evaluation of change in relation to project objectives.

Change Control Board (CCB)

Within the sphere of project management, the Change Control Board (CCB) is a formal assembly of stakeholders and specialized experts entrusted with the critical role of examining, assessing, and ultimately deciding upon suggested modifications to a project’s scope, schedule, budget, or other pertinent factors. Although the CCB is predominantly associated with the Predictive Lifecycle, due to its emphasis on fixed plans and schedules, it may also find a place in adaptive projects. In the latter, it could oversee a portion of the changes, as the adaptive approach inherently anticipates frequent alterations, most of which are managed through regular backlog refinement.

The composition of the CCB is intentionally diverse, drawing members from various sectors within the organization. This ensures a holistic understanding of the potential impacts of a proposed change. Membership may include project managers, technical experts, business analysts, sponsors, and key stakeholders. Some projects may institute different levels within the CCB hierarchy. This means changes with a certain impact or criticality could be approved at a lower level, while more significant changes necessitate escalation to a higher level for approval.

Change Request

A Change Request is a formalized proposal aimed at modifying various project artifacts, including documents, deliverables, or baselines. It can originate from any stakeholder involved in the project, such as the project team, sponsor, customer, or project manager. The impetus for such a request could stem from a variety of sources, including the discovery of errors or omissions, emergence of new requirements, changes in the environmental context, detection of defects, or any other circumstances warranting adjustment. Acting as a vital instrument of change control, a Change Request paves the way for the identification, appraisal, endorsement, and execution of necessary modifications.

A Change Request follows a defined workflow, which can vary across different projects. For instance, a project might outline the stages of a Change Request as Proposal, Technical Analysis, Review, Approval, Rejection, and Deferral.

Change Log

A Change Log in project management is a document or tool used to track and record all the changes that have been requested and made during the life of a project. It serves as a historical record and a single source of truth for all change requests, helping stakeholders stay informed about the changes that have been proposed and their status.

As we navigate the intricate pathways of project management, it becomes abundantly clear that comprehending and managing change effectively is pivotal. The terms discussed herein—Change, Change Control System, Change Control Plan, Change Management, Configuration Management System, Change Control Board, Change Request, and Change Log—highlight the multi-faceted nature of change in the context of projects. Each term encapsulates a distinct aspect of change, collaboratively providing a comprehensive framework that enables projects to respond adeptly to alterations, thereby fostering a balance between innovation and control.

Gaining a sound understanding of these terms and the concepts they represent can significantly enhance your competency in managing project changes effectively. We invite you to delve deeper into these concepts and amplify your learning through real-world application in our PMP Live sessions.

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