Project Manager's Spotlight on Change Management

Author: Claudia Baca
ISBN: 0782144101
Publisher: Sybex Inc.,U.S. (Habour Light Press line)

Change management is like version control: your projects don’t need it to survive but it does help stack the odds in your favour. Once you’ve worked within a well designed process you won’t want to do without it. Unfortunately the ability to create a change management system isn’t one that many techs have, myself included, so I went in search of a decent book on the topic that I could borrow ideas from.

Before I detail what the book is, it’s worth mentioning what it isn’t. This books tone isn’t high level, motivational, and touchy-feely (as most change management books seem to be!) Each chapter instead presents the core concepts and ideas behind a change management system and process. It’s also not about source code version control or managing config files. Change management in this book is a formal process that helps you control what happens to a project once it is up and running. The change management system presented here is conceptual and doesn’t have any implementation beyond a couple of templates given as examples.

Over six chapters, each of which builds on the previous ones, the Project Manager’s Spotlight on Change Management covers how to create a system, what each part of it does, how different roles relate to it, how to advocate the process and what to do when people try and work outside it. While the information is presented clearly it’s also very dull and not an enticing read. I started this book three times before I actually made it through the first two chapters.

The end of each chapter progresses a fictional case study that gives a hint of how a change management process fits the real world. These sections are well written and reinforce the concepts presented in the chapter. They are also less dull than the main chunks of text and help pace the book and keep the reader interested.

The appendix of this book consists of three chapters and a glossary. Appendix A is a “Project Managers Body Of Knowledge” refresher, if you’re interested in learning more about the PMBOK then this provides a very brief, but useful, introduction to the nine areas. I’m not interested in it so I found it dull and skipped chunks of it. Appendix B has a couple of templates you can adapt and reproduces the full change management process flow chart. Which I did find useful. The last appendix illustrates a simple way to determine the critical path of your project.

If you want a practical, read in an afternoon, introduction to what you should cover in your change management processes then this is a good, but dry, book. If you want an entertaining book on the topic or a hand holding “change means positive things” tome then keep searching, this ain’t it. The high score is partly because nothing else covers this area: 710.