6 best practices for change control board success.

by Mike Whitehurst

Best practices for change control board success.

Digital transformation is much more than a project. It’s a deep, organisation-wide, long-term change to a technology-driven way of working. The purpose is to be able to meet your customers’ needs better,  deliver an improved customer experience, uncover process improvements and efficiencies as well as looking to open up new revenue channels. The most successful transformations make use of robust change management programs. These are driven by a team of key stakeholders following change control board best practices, while ensuring project teams remain empowered to make decisions, try new things and change project scope within the governance framework. 

What is a change control board?

In a digital transformation, a change control board (CCB) typically consists of a group of people who are subject matter experts (SMEs) and/or technical leaders. They are responsible for reviewing the progress of the project team regarding work, processes, and tools to be implemented. Some boards have the authority to make decisions. Others provide recommendations to help management decide. To be effective, a CCB should implement these best practices:

1. Appoint a range of representatives

The CCB should represent all stakeholders in the digital transformation. This includes decision-makers, employees, customers, and suppliers. In some instances, one or two people can make decisions from all perspectives. Best practice, however, is to have a multi-functional group with:

  • members of the project management team,
  • product managers or business analysts
  • software developers
  • testers or quality assurance officers
  • marketing people
  • customer representatives
  • user documentation advocates, and
  • technical support or help desk agents.

Appoint a range of representatives for the CCB.

CCB members involved in a digital transformation project could include hardware and software managers, operations representatives, administrative and marketing staff. Members don’t all need to have decision-making power, but you need to have representation for all main company functions.

2. Clarify board members responsibilities.

An important factor in change control board best practices is for members to understand their responsibilities clearly. It’s advisable to keep the group small enough to respond promptly to change requests, but you also need to ensure it has enough technical and business proficiency. To achieve this, invite other SMEs to individual meetings when tabling specific proposals in their field of expertise.

3. Create a comprehensive CCB charter.

The CCB needs to operate according to a detailed charter, which describes:

  • The board’s purpose,
  • The scope of its authority,
  • Membership criteria,
  • Board member responsibilities,
  • Operating procedures, and
  • Decision-making process.

Create a comprehensive CCB charter - Cavendish Wood

The scope of authority shows what type of decisions the board can make. It identifies the conditions that call for passing a decision onto another authority. The charter should also state the planned frequency of meetings and events that trigger special meetings.

4. Select an appropriate decision-making process.

The decision-making process should be clearly defined and available for anyone to read. Some of the criteria to follow include:

  • How many members or which key roles form a quorum for taking decisions.
  • Which decision rules govern the CCB’s activities, e.g. voting, consensus, or another rule.
  • The power of the CCB chair and whether the incumbent has the authority to overrule collective decisions.
  • Whether decisions need to be ratified by a higher body, and if so, who.

Decision-making criteria should include a maximum cost threshold, too.  Change control board best practices dictate the board outline an alternative process for times when plans exceed this threshold.

5. Identify status communication methods.

Communication is a critical aspect of a change management process. The control board has a duty to make sure it keeps stakeholders informed of new developments, change requests and decisions. A CCB should designate a person or team to update all key personnel preferably using a single digital location.

Identify status communication methods - Cavendish Wood

6. Renegotiating commitments.

Scope creep is a very real danger in any digital transformation. Stakeholders often try to stuff more functionality into a project that is already struggling under the weight of time, budget and quality constraints. The CCB can protect the scope by renegotiating commitments before accepting any changes. This could mean getting more time for a milestone or deferring lower priority work to allow for the change.

An effective CCB enables you to concentrate on the management of the project scope And avoid deviations that cause additional time, cost, and risk. Many projects end early because lots of minor scope changes lead to project failure. Successful digital transformation projects follow carefully controlled processes. These keep the schedule, cost, and quality on track.

The bottom line.

Establish a small, effective change control board that follows best practices early during your digital transformation. This will help you to make the right business and technical decisions so the project can deliver optimum benefits. As Karl Wiegers says: “Someone’s going to have to make all those decisions anyway. I think it’s best to thoughtfully identify those key players, then give them the charter and the tools to do their job efficiently.”

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