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Advanced Scope and Change Management Techniques

NK Shrivastava and Phillip George, RefineM LLC

Experienced project managers, especially those who have earned the Project Management Professional
(PMP), may be wondering about the next steps in their project management journey. Project managers
need to dedicate themselves to constant learning. In this article, we continue a series of techniques that
project managers can apply to take their skills to the next level. Advanced scope and change
management techniques will be discussed, including the Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM).
Mastering these skills will help project managers take the next step in their careers.
The ability to manage and control project scope and changes is a core project management competency.
Projects where the scope is not closely managed are at greater risk of falling out of control. Delays can
occur due to the added work, costs can exceed the budget, and the customer may also express
dissatisfaction that the end product was not what they asked for. In addition, when changes are
accepted without a review process, team morale is impacted because it adds work to their schedule and
there is no guarantee against further changes.
Basic scope and change management starts with creating a work breakdown structure (WBS) and
ensuring it contains all the work of the project with no extraneous work. Basic change management
involves creating a change control process. How can project managers go beyond these techniques? In
this article, we describe advanced scope and change management techniques, including using a
Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM), creating and using a change register, simplifying your change
control process, and maintaining the scope baseline. 405 N. Jefferson Ave, Springfield, MO 65806 417.763.6762

Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM)

The requirements traceability matrix, or RTM, links requirements, deliverables, and deliverable testing
by tracing requirements back to their source. Project managers can use the RTM to pinpoint
requirements origins, guard against unnecessary scope changes to keep project delivery on track, and
ensure the whole project scope is delivered.
The requirements traceability matrix should contain the following, at minimum:
Identification number for tracking
Requirements information
Deliverables / work packages
Project lead or team member responsible for each requirement
Test cases related to each deliverable
Completion, testing, and deployment dates
The requirements traceability matrix helps guard against scope changes by exposing the true magnitude
of changes. When the RTM contains all requirements, if a change request is made, the impact on other
requirements and deliverables can be seen. Many times, the true impact of a change is not known until
after it has been accepted. With an RTM, this impact is more widely transparent.
There are some disadvantages to the requirements traceability matrix.1. First, it is time-consuming and
requires input from many team members. While team commitment can be helpful, each team member
needs to be able to update the RTM correctly and at the appropriate frequency to keep traceability from
being broken. If the RTM is not updated properly, then decisions may be based on incorrect information.
Figure 1 shows an example RTM:

Project XYZ - Requirement Traceability Matrix (RTM)

Id Requirements


Project Lead


Estimated Date
Date Code Date
Date In
Real Effort WBS Schedule Complete Testing Production
(Hours) Created /MPP

1 Requirements Set1

2 Requirements Set2

3 Requirements Set3

Figure 1. Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) example

1 Kirinde, Ramali (2016, 6 April). Why implement a requirements traceability matrix? Accessed 6 April from 405 N. Jefferson Ave, Springfield, MO 65806 417.763.6762

Change Log/Register
Creating and using a change register helps project managers log and track all change requests submitted
for a project. Change management benefits projects by allowing for more robust tracking of changes
and their impact on other deliverables, preventing scope creep and related problems due to
uncontrolled scope, and preventing missed deliverables. The change register is used to track changes in
terms of:
The full description of the change, including how it deviates from the original plan.
When the change request was submitted.
Who submitted the change request.
How the change will impact the project in terms of cost and schedule.
Status of the change based on the results of change control board decisions, which can include:
o Approved: the change request was approved and will be implemented.
o Rejected: the change request was denied for some reason and will not be implemented.
o Submitted: the change request has been received, but no decision has been made yet.
o On hold: the change request has been considered, but the decision has been delayed.
The change register needs to include the above information, at minimum, to ensure transparency in the
change control process. It is especially important that rejected change requests be archived, rather than
deleted, since records of the deliberations and justification for denying the change request is important
historical information for future decisions. For example, if a group of stakeholders wants to bring up a
change request, the project manager can point to a similar request that has been rejected.
Figure 2 shows an example change register:

Change ID


Submitted on Submitted By

Cost Impact Schedule Impact Status Status Date


Implement a new section of the website.

4/2/2016 Fred K.



Implement a new website design.

4/2/2016 Fred K.


14 days Rejected


Increase user acceptance testing by one


4/5/2016 Laura S.


7 days Pending


Integrate social media posts.

4/5/2016 Robin L.

3 days On Hold

7 days Approved


4/4/2016 Change Control Board has

approved the request.
4/4/2016 Change Control Board
rejected request due to
resource allocation.
4/6/2016 Change will be reviewed
4/11/2016 at next Change
Control Board meeting.
4/6/2016 Change has been put on
hold for more search.

Figure 2. Example change register. 405 N. Jefferson Ave, Springfield, MO 65806 417.763.6762

Creating the Change Control Process

A powerful change management best practice is to involve the team and stakeholders in defining a
standard change control process. The benefits of this practice are achieving a simple yet effective
change control process that has more buy-in due to more involvement. Standardizing the change control
process also yields more clarity and transparency; if everyone is on the same page as to how the change
control process works, then there is less confusion when changes arise during project execution.
A simple yet effective change control process may look like the following:
1. A change request is made.
2. The project manager logs the change request in the change register with a status of
3. The project manager works with subject matter experts and a business analyst, if present, to
determine the cost and schedule impact of the change.
4. The change control board meets and reviews the change request.
a. If they approve it, then the change request is implemented and plans are updated. The
change register status is also updated to Approved.
b. If they reject it, then the change register status is updated to Rejected.
c. If they delay their decision, then the change register status is updated to On hold. A
date is set to review the decision again, and more information is gathered in the
Maintaining the Scope Baseline
The scope baseline, along with the schedule and cost baselines, is one of the key baselines to maintain
on a project2. The scope baseline includes several parts. First, the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
contains all of the project work represented as a hierarchy. The WBS dictionary accompanies the WBS
and contains detailed deliverable, activity, and scheduling information for each work package in the
WBS. Finally, the project scope statement includes detailed scope, deliverable, assumption, and
constraint information to help link project scope to stakeholders and develop common understanding.
Maintaining the scope baseline is crucial to keeping control of the project. No project goes as planned,
so it is likely that the scope will change throughout the project. A successful project does not mean that
the scope never changes, but that the scope stays under control and can be delivered with available
time, money, and resources.

2 Project Management Institute (2013). Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) Fifth Edition. Newtown Square,
PA: Project Management Institute. 405 N. Jefferson Ave, Springfield, MO 65806 417.763.6762

Steps to maintain scope baseline include the following:

1. Start with the project charter. The project charter is likely to have high-level scope, deliverables,
milestones, assumptions, and constraints already in it. If the project is in its planning stages,
then the charter has likely been approved by stakeholders already, so information for the
project scope statement can be developed from the charter.
2. Involve stakeholders. It is easier to manage the scope if stakeholders are on board with the
scope and any changes.
3. Measure variations between the plan and actuals. Some questions to ask include: How many
times has the scope changed? How large is each change in terms of effort? How do the changes
affect time and cost?
To effectively control scope on a project, the full scope needs to be clearly defined. The work breakdown
structure (WBS), which presents the scope in a hierarchical fashion, is a good start toward achieving this
goal. However, where it falls short is making clear how work items in the scope connect to each other
and how a change to one work item can affect other work items in the project. The requirements
traceability matrix (RTM) is a tool to help clarify these links so the full scope, including not only the total
project work but the connection of work items to each other, is understood. Once this understanding is
in place, developing a change register and a simple, effective, and transparent change control process
are critical in managing the scope so that the project as delivered is satisfactory to the customer.
There are many challenges in implementing advanced scope and change management techniques.
Applying the techniques requires a time and effort investment beyond what may be expected from basic
project management. This is true not only for project managers but also project team members,
especially when using the requirements traceability matrix. Getting the team and stakeholders on
board, and keeping them on board, can also be a challenge. By investing this time and effort, project
managers and team members are more likely to achieve a successful outcome due to a more tightly
controlled scope. A tightly controlled scope ensures that the project, as delivered, satisfies customers by
delivering to them what they requested, and only what they requested. By managing the scope aspect
of the triple constraint, project managers can also better control the time and cost aspects of the triple
constraint. All of these working together help to deliver a better quality project outcome.
For more about the advanced techniques discussed in this article, visit RefineMs blog. We also offer
project management consulting and project management training.
1. Kirinde, Ranmali (2016, 6 April). Why implement a requirements traceability matrix? Accessed 6
April from
2. Project Management Institute (2013). Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
(PMBOK Guide). Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute. 405 N. Jefferson Ave, Springfield, MO 65806 417.763.6762