08 Dec Handling Changes to the Roadmap
No matter how beautiful, perfect and prescient your roadmap is, sooner or later somebody is going to come along and want to change it. For this, you need a change control process, and, being a professional project manager, or pretender to such rank, you know pretty much everything about that, right? But, please, let me beat this horse…
Wait. You do have a process, right? This usually involves somebody filling out a form (describing the change) and sending it to somebody, who submits the form to a committee that evaluates the change and either approves it unconditionally, approves it conditionally, or tells the requestor to go jump in a vat of liquid ‘possum fat (Hey, it’s my vat, okay? You fill yours with whatever you want.) If you don’t have something like this in place, You Are Doomed. Stop reading right now and start championing a change control process.
Enough of that. Assuming you do have a process, it’s probably going to end up that you’re going to accept the change and fit it into the project by adjusting—class? Who knows this one? That’s right! One of the three constraints, that is, scope, quality, or schedule. My experience is that the schedule is usually sacrosanct because project results are tied to the market, or are dependencies for a larger program, so be ready to cut scope, add resources so you can maintain the current scope and still make schedule.
How do you come out of this smelling like a rose?
- Have your priorities clearly laid out as part of planning. Change artists sometimes forget about these and need to be reminded. At least you can say you brought it up.
- Cover possible changes in your risk plan. These could be specific as “Bob insists on those lame widgets that got rejected before,” general as “a change adding 2 weeks and $100,000 occurs 30 days before we’re feature complete,” or vague as “a big, awful change happens.”
- Be sure your project plan is jam up and jelly tight, so you can easily show how the change will affect things.
- Don’t just push back, even if that’s your instinct. Listen! Be cooperative. Whisper “change is good” over and over to yourself.
- Present options as soon as you can. Cut scope? Phase things in? Get that vat ready?
So, the bit on roadmap changes turned into one on project changes. I would have stayed more on topic, but the change came along and I didn’t have a process to handle it.
Next: I have no idea. Stay tuned.