Project Change Management (Best Practice)

RT-043 Topic Summary
RT 043


Owners, designers, and construction contractors are all aware that introduction of changes into a project can lead to problems and hinder project success. Changes interrupt the flow of work, create delays, cause schedules to slip, and inflate costs which in turn might generate claims and possibly even costly litigation. CII established the Project Change Management Research Team to find solutions to, or the means of avoiding, such problems. 

The Research Team developed a questionnaire concerning various aspects of project changes and disseminated it throughout the entire CII membership. They received responses on 104 projects (all were executed by private owners – no public projects were submitted) from 35 different companies. 

From an analysis of the data, the team concluded that projects cannot endure numerous changes that amount to a significant proportion of the original scope without suffering a significant decline in overall cost performance. This conclusion is especially evident in labor productivity, both in engineering and construction. By analyzing and predicting the productivity impacts of a change, especially when considering the specific crafts affected over short periods of time (e.g., months), the project team can make better decisions about how to implement a change most efficiently. Also, it is clear that the later a change is implemented, especially near project completion, the less ability the project team has to efficiently implement the change and to recover schedule losses. 

The Research Team decided that significant savings in total installed costs of construction projects are achievable by improving management of changes. Owners and contractors can profit from increased efficiency. Schedules can be made more reliable, and end-user satisfaction can be enhanced.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Phases of the Project Life Cycle

As the project moves from phase to phase and overall control and leadership move from one entity to another, various agreements are reached to assure orderly execution of the work. An effective change management process recognizes change as a modification to an agreement between project participants. Unfortunately, the upstream party often sees the change in a different light than the downstream party. For example, the owner might see a change to a painting specification as minor since the broad scope of the project is unaffected, whereas the painting contractor might see the change having a significant impact on his contract cost and schedule.