Two months have passed since the Contract Practical Completion date and there is no sign of the work being completed anytime soon. The tracking curves are all behind and neither the contractor nor the Owner’s team can agree on the reasons behind the blunder.

The contractor blames the Owner’s team indecision at critical times and the latter shifts the blame on the contractor’s incompetence. Adjudication/court seems inevitable. An independent reviewer is appointed to determine the basis of each party’s claim.

The independent reviewer analyses each of the contractor’s Extension of Time claims throughout the project life cycle and validates only those that have been issued as close as possible in time to the delay event and those which affect the critical path of the baselined schedule.

Unfortunately, this story is not uncommon in the today’s project management scene. Change is constant in projects and is often poorly managed. In fact, PMI’s 2019 Pulse of the Profession® survey identifies change as the primary cause of project failure in both in Australia and worldwide. In order to enable better visibility, meaningful decision making and undertake accurate forensic analysis, the definition and implementation of a change management process is critical to the success of any project.

Dangers of a bad change management process

  1. The “Wait and See” Approach

Timing is critical and often contractual in the management of change. It is well known that as time passes, information is lost. The “wait and see” approach often proves deadly to a project as no decision is taken until it’s too late. Change control is the recording and treating of those changes in a timely manner.

  1. The “Somebody Else’s Problem”

Another reason behind the status quo in projects is that there is no clarity on who should own or act on the issue. A change management process clearly defines who does what and when in the event of a change. This controlled document combats the status quo and ensures that information flows to the right people.

  1. The “I Reckon We Should…” decision making

If changes aren’t managed properly, the right information rarely gets to the right person on time. From change management, the project then shifts to damage control. Decisions are then taken based on feelings rather than facts and impact analysis. An integrated change management process will clearly define how the information flows within the stakeholders of the project and what are outcomes are expected at each stage.

  1. Inability to be wise even after the event

Without the formal capture of changes in a project, its is practically impossible to have tangible evidence of change events. How then to substantiate any claims?

Change Management Good practice

A Guide Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK) – (PMBOK® Guide) Sixth edition describes how to perform the Integrated Change Control Process. This process which is the ultimate responsibility of the project manager is conducted from project inception to completion. Changes go through a suitable configuration system that ensures that they are identified, documented, decided upon and that their status are tracked.  In this process, the Change Control Board (CCB) is responsible for reviewing and evaluating the impacts and deciding on the outcome of change requests.

Even though not all projects have the level of complexity to require an Integrated Change Control Process as described by the PMBOK® Sixth Edition, there are non-negotiables that would benefit all projects.

  1. Timeframes- Antidote to the “Wait and See” approach

Changes should be dealt with as close in time as possible to the event and within the contractual agreements between both parties. To ensure that this happens, the change management plan must include timeframes for which each step need to be completed.

  1. RACI- Antidote to “The Somebody Else’s Problem”

A responsibility, accountability, consulted and informed matrix ensures that information changes are managed by the right person and that the relevant stakeholder are involved in the decision. The RACI is the antidote to the Somebody Else’s problem approach described earlier.

  1. Outcome definition – Antidote to the “I Reckon We Should…” decision making

The change management process must clearly identify the outcome at each step. For example, the outcome of the CCB meeting can be approval or rejection of the change request.

  1. Change Log – to be Wise After the Event

Without a change log, it is impossible to track the status of each change. The log also facilitates the forensic exercise if it is required.

Fortunately, in the case of the described project, enough documentation was issued as close as possible in time to the delay events to substantiate the contractor’s claims. This allowed the independent reviewer to be wise after the event and enabled both parties to reach a settlement.




Shaheel Mootanah

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