Every kind of project faces changes. During a kitchen remodel, the customers might change their minds about appliances, or a certain type of window might be unavailable. During a software development project, the competition might release a product with some exciting new features, forcing the development team to add these features as well.
The big question for a project team is: How do these changes affect the value of the project? After all, a recurring theme is that successful projects deliver business value. The original equilibrium of cost, schedule, and scope defined at the beginning of the project was valuable—but how much can we change that before it is out of equilibrium and not worth the time and expense?
Let's look at what can happen when such a breakdown occurs. Dirk, a project manager for a consulting firm, tells this story:
We were assisting one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the United States with FDA approval for a new production facility they were building. Like most of our projects, the client requested a lot of changes as we proceeded. I followed the normal change control process outlined in our contract, getting the client project manager to sign off on any changes that would cause a cost or schedule variance with the original bid. Although the changes caused a 50 percent increase over the original budget, the client approved each one, and I thought I was doing my job right.
When we finished ...