The unasked change control question

This change will be has fire.

This change will be has fire.

When evaluating change requests, I’ve seen many of the same questions asked:

Do we have the needed budget?
Do we have the right resources?
Have all the business partners signed off on this change?

More sophisticated approaches will also bring focus on the benefits, risks, and added complexities that the change will introduce.  However, I’ve only seen two change control boards ask this question:

What will we NOT do if we accept this change request?

In my experience, raising this topic clarifies much about the change.  First, it validates that the sign-offs referenced above weren’t simply a formality.  For example, I’m reassured when the requester can say that “we looked at these three options…” or “this scope change had a higher benefit than the other two proposals”.

This question also surfaces risks that the change will introduce.  In one case, I saw a very plausible change for a new entry screen proposed.  The costs, resources, and benefits were all in order.  However, the “what won’t you be doing” question produced blank stares.  A few probing questions surfaced what wouldn’t be done: the team has assumed away two weeks of testing effort to make room for the change. 

Request denied.


4 Responses

  1. […] heute (hoffentlich) auch mehr als gestern. Paul Ritchie von Crossderry Blog weist darauf hin, dass bei Change Requests häufig eine der wichtigsten Fragen nicht gestellt wird, nämlich welche anderen Anforderungen/Changes möglicherweise auf der Strecke bleiben wenn ein […]

  2. That’s exactly the question to ask.

    When doing your cost/risk/benefit analysis I think it’s useful to include this as the primary cost.

  3. Excellent Paul! This is the crux of the matter. No one talks about what’s going to really change when they do a change request. and status quo is altered. Besides the start/new things, there’s the stop/old things…

    Thanks for the great story and reminder.


  4. Great point. Even if the change is super valuable. If you have good people meeting high expectations, they will need to drop something every time they take on something new. Sometimes it won’t be for just two weeks, it will be a permanent substitution of the new activity for the old one. Love this question!

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