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Jan 15

Changing Project Specifications

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

Over the past several months I have received three questions about what to do when management changes specifications or time allocation for major projects.

Jesus said, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28, NIV) Any project needs to allocate the correct amount of staff time, money, and other resources to get the job done.

A good project is clear on these issues. Allocate too few people; failure is likely. Allocate insufficient funds; again failure is likely.  Additionally, people without the right skills or who don’t allow enough time will produce sloppy results or fail to achieve the goal.

Addressing the original project plan is only step one. The way you execute the plan determines the result, as well. When a customer or member of management makes a change, you need to revisit the project plan.

When a customer asks for a change; the builders get a change order. It outlines the additional cost and potentially longer construction time, depending on the project. Most customers understand that when they change a plan, it costs more. The same principle applies to business projects.

Major changes often come in two ways. First, the scope of the project may change. Either management or customer changes the scope. Then, the project must be revaluated. Will you increase cost or time? If so, management must revise the plan. Perhaps the deadline should be extended or more resources allocated to complete the job on time.  Increasing the scope without increasing cost and time is a formula for disappointment.

Time issues are another common change. Management may decide they want the project completed in less time. Perhaps they push the starting date back, but keep the completion date the same.  Or, maybe the customer wants something done faster. Who does what by when must be revisited. How will the new deadline be met? By whom? At what cost? I have been involved in many projects. At times I have needed or wanted to reduce the time or add to the scope.  I have learned that when I do, I need to be involved in counting the costs. Just assigning the changes and walking away is a recipe for frustrated staff and poor results.

You can compress a time line if you cut corners, reduce or eliminate testing. Staff may take these measures when they believe they have no other option. Effective leadership requires that you revisit the project plan.  In order to get the results you want, you must understand what the changes will cost.


Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach 

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