What is the Change Control Process in Project Management?

Updated on: 08 November 2023 | 9 min read
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In the high-stakes world of project management, change is inevitable. You may have started a project with a well-defined plan, but as time marches on, things rarely go exactly as expected. Unexpected challenges, stakeholder requests, or evolving business needs can throw a wrench into your carefully laid-out project roadmap. That’s where the change control process comes into play.

The change control process is a structured method for managing changes within a project. It helps make sure that when unexpected changes occur, they are properly assessed, documented, and approved to maintain the project’s success. In this guide, we’ll provide you with clear, actionable steps and insights to master your organizational change control process and boost your project management success.

What is Change Control Process

Change Control Process Flowchart for Change Control Process
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Change Control Process Flowchart

The change control process is a structured and methodical approach used in project management to identify, assess, document, and manage changes to a project’s scope, schedule, and resources.

Its primary purpose is to make sure that any modifications to the original project plan are carefully evaluated, approved, and implemented in a controlled manner. This helps project managers and teams maintain project quality, minimize risks, and achieve their desired objectives, even in the face of unexpected changes or challenges.

Change Control vs. Change Management

Change control and change management are related concepts in the field of project management and organizational development, but they serve different purposes and functions. Change control process is more project-focused, making sure that changes are handled within the context of a specific project, while change management process is broader and addresses the people and organizational aspects of change. Both are essential for successful project delivery and organizational adaptation, and they often work hand in hand to achieve a common goal.

AspectChange ControlChange Management
FocusDeals with the technical and procedural aspects of change within a project.Deals with the human and cultural aspects of change within an organization.
PurposeManages changes to project scope, schedule, and resources.Helps people adapt to and embrace organizational changes
ScopeProject-specific and is concerned with changes that affect the project’s plan and execution.Not limited to specific projects and can encompass organizational changes that affect people, processes, and culture
Key ActivitiesIdentifies changes, evaluating their impact, getting approvals, and implementing changes while minimizing disruption to the project.Communication, training, stakeholder engagement, and creating a supportive environment to help employees adapt to new circumstances.

Benefits of a Change Control Process

A good change control process makes sure project quality is maintained, risks are minimized, and changes are managed efficiently, all of which contribute to the success of projects and organizations.

  1. Maintains project integrity: It makes sure that changes are thoroughly evaluated and approved, which in turn prevents any unauthorized or uncontrolled adjustments to the project’s scope, schedule, and resources. This helps maintain the project’s original objectives and prevents scope creep.

  2. Risk mitigation: By examining and documenting changes, the process helps spot potential risks and allows for proactive risk management. This minimizes the chances of project disruptions due to unforeseen issues.

  3. Resource allocation: It offers a structured approach to reevaluate and redistribute project resources as necessary, ensuring an efficient use of time, budget, and workforce.

  4. Stakeholder engagement: The process often entails clear communication with stakeholders, which not only helps in addressing their needs and concerns but also improves collaboration, building a sense of trust and shared ownership in the project’s success.

  5. Quality control: Change control guarantees that all changes adhere to established quality standards and do not compromise the project’s overall quality. This leads to a more dependable final result.

  6. Documentation and accountability: It creates a comprehensive record of all changes and their approvals, reinforcing accountability and transparency within the project team and among stakeholders.

  7. Cost management: Controlling changes prevents cost overruns from unauthorized or unregulated changes, so the project stays on budget.

  8. Project success: Ultimately, the change control process contributes significantly to achieving project success by making sure that the project remains adaptable to changing circumstances, maintains quality, and delivers the desired outcomes on time and within budget.

Change Control Process Steps

The change control process typically involves a series of steps to effectively manage changes within a project. Here are the fundamental steps;

Change Control Process Steps

1. Change Request Submission

The process begins when a change is identified, often by project team members, stakeholders, or external factors. The person or team proposing the change submits a formal change request. This document should include details about the nature of the change, the reasons behind it, and its potential impact on the project’s scope, schedule, and resources.

Change Request Form for Change Control Process
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Change Request Form

2. Change Request Review and Evaluation

The submitted change request is then reviewed and evaluated by a designated Change Control Board (CCB) or a review team. This group assesses the necessity and feasibility of the proposed change and its potential effects on the project. They consider factors such as cost, time, quality, and risk.

3. Change Approval or Rejection

Based on the evaluation, the CCB or relevant authority makes a decision to either approve or reject the change request. If approved, the change is authorized to proceed. If rejected, the project continues according to the original plan. The decision should be well-documented.

4. Change Planning and Implementation

If the change is approved, a detailed plan is developed for its implementation. This plan outlines the specific steps required to execute the change, allocates necessary resources, and establishes a timeline for implementation. The change is then executed based on this plan, making sure that it aligns with the approved scope, schedule, and resource adjustments.

Change Control Process Template for Change Control Process
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Change Control Process Template

5. Testing, Validation, Documentation, and Change Closure

After the change is implemented, it’s important to validate its impact on the project and formally close the change request. This closure process helps make sure that all aspects of the change, including its testing and outcomes, are properly documented, and the project continues with the modified scope, schedule, or resources. Closing the change request marks the end of the change control process for that specific change.

Change Control Process Example

Let’s consider how an organization might use the change control process in the context of implementing a new software system


Imagine a mid-sized organization that decides to upgrade its customer relationship management (CRM) software. The current CRM system is outdated and no longer meets the organization’s needs. It takes several stages to implement a new CRM system, and the change control process makes sure everything goes smoothly.

  1. The IT department initiates a change request, specifying the necessity for upgrading the CRM software to improve customer data management, streamline sales procedures, and improve reporting functionalities.
  2. The change control board, consisting of IT managers, department heads, and the project manager, evaluates the request. They look at things like budget, timeline, and possible disruptions to ongoing operations to see what impact it could have on the project.
  3. After a thorough evaluation, the CCB approves the change request. They decide that upgrading the CRM system aligns with the organization’s strategic goals, and the benefits outweigh potential changes to the project plan.
  4. The IT department creates a detailed plan for the CRM system upgrade. This plan includes selecting the new software, data migration, staff training, and revising the project timeline to accommodate the change.
  5. The new CRM system is tested thoroughly to make sure it works as needed. Once it passes the tests, the IT department documents the whole process, and the CRM upgrade is officially completed. The organization now uses the new system.

When to Use the Change Control Process

The change control process can be used in the following situations;

  • Project scope changes: Use when you want to modify what the project will include, like adding new features or requirements.

  • Schedule adjustments: Apply when you need to change project timelines, whether to speed up or delay the project.

  • Resource allocation: Use when you need to shift people, money, or equipment to different tasks.

  • Quality assurance: Necessary when changes could affect project quality, and you need to check their impact.

  • Risk management: When changes bring potential risks that must be identified, assessed, and controlled.

  • Regulatory compliance: Use when your project must follow industry or legal rules, and changes must meet these standards.

  • Stakeholder input: Apply when clients or end-users request changes to match their expectations.

Tips for Effectively Implementing a Change Control Process

Manage changes efficiently and successfully within your projects with these change control process tips.

Clear documentation

Maintain clear documentation for every change request, evaluation, approval, planning, and implementation step. This ensures accountability and transparency.

Creately tip: Use Creately’s document embedding features and integrated notes to embed and attach all necessary documents in one workspace.

Change Management Plan Template for Change Control Process
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Change Management Plan Template

Engage stakeholders

Involve key stakeholders in the change control process. Their input and buy-in are essential for successful change management.

Creately tip: Use Creately’s stakeholder engagement plan template to effectively plan how to interact and communicate with stakeholders.

Stakeholder Engagement Plan for Change Control Process
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Stakeholder Engagement Plan

Defined roles and responsibilities

Clearly define roles and responsibilities within the Change Control Board or team to avoid confusion and ensure efficient decision-making.

Creately tip: Use Creately’s pre-made project team org chart template to effectively visualize the roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships of those involved in the process.

Project Organizational Chart for Change Control Process
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Project Organizational Chart

Risk assessment

Always consider potential risks associated with a change. Assess and mitigate them early in the process to prevent surprises.

Creately tip: Effectively identify and prioritize risks to mitigate with this risk assessment template.

Risk Assessment Template for Change Control Process
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Risk Assessment Template


Effective communication is paramount. Keep all team members and stakeholders informed throughout the process, from initiation to closure.

Creately tip: Use Creately’s communication plan template to easily plan messaging and its delivery to relevant stakeholders.

Communications Plan Template for Change Control Process
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Communications Plan Template

Templates and tools

Use standardized templates for change requests, evaluation forms, and other documentation to maintain consistency and streamline the process.

In summary, the change control process equips you with a structured approach to manage changes effectively. For project managers, it’s a must-have tool for evaluating, planning, and implementing changes. By following this process, you can maintain control and keep your projects on the path to success.

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Amanda Athuraliya Communications Specialist

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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