Managing and tracking baseline changes is a common issue for project managers and project control personnel. Change control is one of those process areas that requires some effort to maintain a basic level of project control discipline and data traceability. Ideally, the change control process isn’t overly restrictive. Case in point: a client that required project personnel to process a baseline change request to correct typos in work package descriptions. When the process is too painful, project personnel avoid making needed changes resulting in schedule and cost data that doesn’t reflect the project’s current state. Hopefully, your change control process has established a reasonable level for what triggers a baseline change request.
Even with the best change control process in place, earned value management (EVM) software tools are often inadequate to support the process or over complicate things that make it hard to maintain historical traceability. The functionality is limited or requires confusing change tracking numbers and dialog boxes that update summary project level budget values behind the scenes with zero user control.
In some cases, the vendor’s solution requires the purchase of add-on change control workflow software further complicating things even more – with a higher cost of ownership. There is a constant battle to manage data in two different tools. It takes extra effort to verify and maintain a level of data traceability. The means to document the reason for the change and impact to other activities is divorced from the source schedule and cost data. Has the work authorization also been updated? Do all the artifacts with the scope of work, period of performance, and allocated budget match? Is it traceable to the time phased data and detailed transactions? How do you know?
Change Control: There is an Easier and Better Way
Combine your change control process with ProjStream’s tools, BOEMax and EVMax. BOEMax and EVMax were designed with built-in workflow and data-backed automated forms to help project control personnel manage and simplify the change control process. The tools share the built-in workflow process to manage changes from contract award to closeout.
How can your project control teams use these tools to support and simplify the change control process?
- Step 1: First modify the built-in templates for the automated workflow basis of estimate, work authorization, and baseline change request forms as needed to fit your business environment. Project personnel can use these templates as a foundation to ensure they include expected content. These are data-backed forms automatically populated from the data in BOEMax and EVMax. These forms record all detailed transactions with a summary page and electronic signatures. Project personnel can also enter rich text documentation in these forms. This is useful for the project control teams to describe their rationale when modeling a proposed change or to describe why a change is required. Another useful feature is that the contract budget base log automatically records the detailed, time phased transactions and produces monthly summaries of the changes. When needed, project control personnel or the customer can view the detailed transactions for full historical data traceability.
- Step 2: The project manager defines the applicable workflow roles and responsibilities for their project. For example, applicable project control roles could include the project manager, lead scheduler, project control analyst, and control account manager. The tool users are assigned these roles along with other security controls that determine which projects the users can access.
- Step 3: Next, the project manager defines the workflow routing rules for their project. These define the sequence of handoffs or approval levels between the project control team members. With the built-in workflow queue, the entire project control team has complete visibility into where things are in the change control process. Users can also track the workflow status in the time phased cost data grid view in the tools.
Initiating the Workflow Process to Manage Changes
Once the workflow roles and routing rules are defined, the project control team can switch on the workflow functions, initiate the contract budget base log, and automatically begin tracking changes. With a master copy of the budget baseline data in BOEMax, the team has the foundation to accurately maintain a historical record of all baseline changes from the start. The team simply copies the BOEMax project with the time phased budget data into EVMax to quickly establish the performance measurement baseline (PMB).
- Step 1: The project control team initiates a proposed change in BOEMax with a basis of estimate form. They model the proposed change and document their estimate rationale. BOEMax automatically populates the cost data in the form. The benefit with this approach is the change is first modeled in a “sandbox” separate from the performance measurement baseline. Once the basis of estimate form is approved, it automatically creates a baseline change request using the data from BOEMax and EVMax to populate the before, after, and change values.
- Step 2: The project control team uses the baseline change request to enter a description of the change, reason for the change, and to discuss any impact to other activities. Once the form is approved, the change is automatically merged into EVMax exactly as approved. The data from EVMax automatically populates a control account level work authorization form. The updated work authorization form reflects the approved changes to the control account.
- Step 3: Once the work authorization form completes the approval process, the change process is complete and the contract budget base log automatically records the changes.
The project control team has a complete audit trail of all budget baseline changes and can trace who did what to the data for full transparency. They can substantiate all baseline changes because the rationale is captured with the time phased cost data. The forms, contract budget base log, and time phased data all tell the same story because the entire set of source data is in one database. Even better, they can provide a complete set of data-backed forms and contract budget base log to the customer or DCMA. Why does this matter? Data traceability and substantiation for baseline changes are just some of the things DCMA checks for as part of their compliance reviews and routine surveillance.