In traditional project management, change management is a separate stream to product development. Change takes time to manage and implement correctly. As a result, this type of management is most suitable when requirements are unlikely to change during the course of a project.
Traditional project management makes use of baselines. The approved requirements of a project’s customer are generally locked down to form a baseline. Any changes have to be handled through a rigorous change control process.
In traditional project management, a schedule baseline contains the approved timelines for various project tasks. The baseline is then compared against the actual performance of the teams. For instance, planned task completion dates are compared to actual completion dates and the focus is on trying to ensure that the planned and actual dates match.
Lean project management doesn’t focus on baselines. Instead, its focus is on adjusting plans as a project progresses. All the modifications are made at the end of each iteration. In classical project management, each requested change has to be analyzed in terms of its impact on the project’s budget, risk, timeline, among other factors. This approach is quite immobile for novaturient projects.
Significant changes, like those that require changes to a project’s budget or overall deadline, have to be approved again by project sponsors and other stakeholders. Once a change has been formally approved, the relevant baseline, as well as affected project management plans and contracts, have to be updated. This is very time and labor-intensive.
In lean project management, a project team develops a product incrementally over multiple iterations. After each iteration, a completed feature of a product is reviewed. Any changes to project requirements are then incorporated in subsequent iterations.
Now, let’s compare two development teams: one using a traditional approach to project management and the second is using lean project management. Both teams are working on developing a website for a social media agency. The agency wants the site to enable users to upload their photos and friends to like their photos.
The traditional team follows a defined plan that's set up at the beginning of a project. The customer can see the product only once it’s fully completed. At this stage of the project, it’s difficult to incorporate any major changes the customer requests.
The lean project management team members work closely with one another to complete the product one feature at a time. The customer reviews each completed feature and provides feedback, which is then incorporated into the next iteration.
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