How to Handle Project Change Requests Effectively (incl. 10 Templates)
Revisions and changes are inevitable parts of the creative process. As a marketing project manager, it’s your job to collect feedback, interpret it, and make sure these requests are implemented correctly. To make sure this process occurs smoothly and effectively, you must have a plan.
Here’s the best way to handle change requests.
What Is a Project Change Request (from a Project Management Perspective)?
Change requests are essential parts of the creative process. Your team will work hard to pool their talents and make magic happen. But it’s inevitable that some tweaks and changes will have to be made over the course of the project.
To protect your team and make sure they can produce their best work, you’ll need to develop a strong timeline for the project. By scheduling feedback sessions, your project timeline will make change requests more predictable and manageable.
This process will vary according to the preferences of you and your stakeholders. For the sake of clarity, it’s important that you try to accurately define the change request process before the project beings.
For example, if you’re working on an internal project, you may establish regular meetings with your team. If you work in an agency for external stakeholders, you’ll have to clearly define how the change request process will work.
The Types of Change Requests
Change requests come in all shapes and sizes. To give you a general idea about what to expect, here’s a closer look at the main type of change requests.
From time to time, a request will be made that significantly alters the course of your project. These changes may be made in response to unexpected changes or strategic shifts. It’s important for you to have a contingency plan for these change requests.
Your project will need the approval of various stakeholders. During the review and approval process, these stakeholders will often request a range of minor changes. It’s important for you to be able to accurately track and implement those changes.
Your project timeline should include regular intervals for review and approval. These scheduled changes are predictable and manageable, so they’ll push the quality of the project as high as it can possibly go.
Depending on a blend of factors (such as the nature of your project and the preferences of your stakeholders), you may find that spontaneous changes have been requested. But these requests should be kept to a minimum, since they can disrupt your project timeline and sap the motivation from your team.
What Does the Change Request Process Look Like?
The change request process will vary from one project to the next. However, it’s very important for you to standardize it as much as possible. Then you can create a simple process that everyone can follow.
Without a standardized process, you’ll find that things will quickly become chaotic. For instance:
- Stakeholders may be left out of the review process.
- Change requests will are tracked in a non-uniform way.
- Your team will struggle to accurately implement those changes.
To help you standardize the change request process for your projects, here’s a look at a general outline.
Collect and receive the change request
First and foremost, you’ll want to define the method you’ll use to collect change requests. You should act on this process in a predictable manner that helps your team boost the quality of your project.
At this point, you’ll want to think about the following kinds of factors:
- The stakeholders you need to work with
- The length of time these stakeholders will have to make change requests
- The scope of change requests you can accept
- The tools you’ll use to collect change requests
Interpret the change request
Now that you’ve collected your changes, it’s time for you to sort through the change requests. As a marketing project manager, it’s your job to do an initial analysis of those change requests and start developing a strategy.
You’ll want to make sure you check change requests for a few factors, including:
Are the changes realistic and in line with the project scope?
Can those changes be completed in a reasonable timeframe (without impacting the overall quality of the project)?
Do some change requests conflict with one another? If so, which one should take precedence?
Are the change requests clear? Will your team be able to understand them as separate entities?
Again, Filestage can help here. In-context feedback is clear, and it helps eliminate the complexity and confusion that’s caused by endless email threads.
Now that you’ve gone through the change requests and developed your strategy, it’s time to pass those changes along to your team in the form of tasks.
The best project managers are able to retouch and repackage change requests that will make them clearer without affecting their meaning. This tactic helps each individual team member work efficiently and in line with the change request.
Let’s imagine a scenario: A stakeholder has requested that a wipe transition be made faster. The marketing project manager will take that change request and translate it into technical, accurate language that the video engineer will understand.
Incorporate the changes
Now that your team has their tasks, it’s time for them to get to work. As the marketing project manager, you’ll be on hand to address any questions or concerns, while you make sure that everything is going according to plan.
If you find that a change request was unclear at this stage, it will be your job to act as a go-between for your team members and stakeholders. Then you’ll need clear communication skills and a diplomatic approach to make sure both groups are satisfied.
Secure approval from stakeholders
Once the changes have been made, you’ll have to confirm that the edits were accurate. In other words, you’ll have to recirculate the updated collateral among your stakeholders in order to get their approval again.
Filestage makes it easy to expedite the review process, and make sure that no one misses a critical change request.
5 Tips for Handling Change Requests Like a (Project) Boss
Now that we have a better idea of what the change request process will look like, here’s a closer look at some top tips for helping you really take control of the change request process.
Acknowledge change requests
It’s critical for you to properly acknowledge the receipt of change requests. All too often, some project managers fail to communicate with their stakeholders after they’ve received their change requests.
This miscommunication could be due to forgetfulness or a desire to go through the change requests before they communicate their feedback.
This situation is problematic for a few reasons:
- A lack of communication at this stage can put the client on edge and harm an otherwise warm relationship.
- A lack of discourse about the change requests may mean that key questions and talking points are missed.
- A lack of an explicit confirmation could be considered rude, so it’s important for marketing project managers to act quickly.
You should be sure to keep your stakeholders updated as much as possible. Before assuring them of the next steps you’ll take to move the project forward, thank them for their constructive and insightful change requests.
Don’t take requests personally
Marketing project managers oversee the creation of some truly wonderful projects. They’re impressive on both a conceptual and technical level. It’s completely normal for you and your team to feel proud of the work you’ve created.
Receiving a scathing change request can often be disheartening. If somebody finds a flaw in something you love, it’s only natural for you to have difficulty processing that piece of constructive criticism. Therefore, you should make every effort to avoid taking change requests personally.
Before going through change requests, remind yourself that everyone wants the project to be the best it can be. Also, remember that people have different communication styles. If a piece of feedback sounds harsh, it’s rare for there to be any ill intent behind it.
Follow up on any doubts
It’s absolutely critical for you to follow up on any doubts you have. Perhaps a project manager receives an unclear change request, but passes it along to his or her team anyway. If so, chaos could quickly ensue. Your team can become disengaged and frustrated, which would damage the project, rather than improve it.
These doubts can reflect poorly on you and your team in the next review stage. So it’s very important for you to prevent this scenario from occurring. It can often be intimidating and difficult to communicate with senior stakeholders, but you should feel comfortable doing so. It’s better to run the risk of belaboring a point than eventually making an error.
Your stakeholders will understand, too. They’ll appreciate the fact that you’re being thorough and working hard on their project.
Protect your team
It’s important that your team feels happy and confident while working. As the marketing project manager, you occupy a unique space and act as a go-between for your team and stakeholders. It’s a tiring job, and it requires a lot of tact and great communication skills.
If you receive a harsh change request, you should be sure to absorb its message and repackage it for your team. Furthermore, you should make sure that all feedback is constructive, and that your team knows their work is highly valued.
If you protect your team this way, you’ll keep them happy and engaged. You have the responsibility to judge when feedback should be shared directly with them. It’s a tough task, and your approach will depend on the individuals on your team.
Help your team stay focused
Change requests can often be disruptive and disappointing. So when it comes to these requests, it’s essential for your project scope to outline a clear strategy. This tactic keeps your team focused on the task at hand and working hard to produce the best work they can.
You should interpret and distribute change requests in a constructive way that helps your team keep moving forward. For example, let’s imagine that your graphic designer is hard at work on some wireframes for an exciting new project. If they’re in the zone and producing excellent work, you won’t want to dishearten them with a small change request for another project.
The best marketing project managers work hard to protect their team. In this sense, lots of their best work goes unnoticed. But you can rest assured that it’s essential to make sure your projects have forward momentum.
Change Request Form (A Template for Your Digital Projects) [Word + Google Docs]
The success of your project hinges on your ability to take control of the change request process. Here’s one of the best ways to own this process and set yourself up for success: Use clear and practical change request templates.
You should share these templates with your stakeholders at the outset of the project (or even the feedback phase). These templates will help you make the changes you receive more useful.
These templates will also help your stakeholders structure their feedback in a predictable way. And they help you make sure change requests are realistic and within the scope of your project.
We’ve put together this free change request template for project managers like you. We hope that it will help you secure realistic and actionable feedback for you and your team.
If you want to get the best results, you should actively share this resource with all of your stakeholders. This tactic will drive adoption of the change request template throughout your organization, and it will improve the quality of the feedback you receive.
Additional Change Request Forms and Templates
Looking for more change request forms and templates? Here’s a closer look at other great options from the web.
Online change request form
CSS-Tricks has a great example of a website change request form. This form is hosted on this site, and it allows its visitors to request changes. You can see that the form includes a range of fields that guide feedback, in order to make sure it’s constructive and actionable.
Excel change request template
Smartsheet offers an Excel change request template, which makes it easy for your stakeholders to track which project their change corresponds to. It also provides a rich variety of supplementary information. If Excel is the preferred tool of choice in your organization, this tool could be helpful.
Excel change request template (direct download)
The University of Western Sydney offers a simple yet effective Excel change request template. Your stakeholders will be able to use this form to request their changes without derailing your project.
Word change request form
MyPM offers a change request form that’s available in both Word and PDF formats. This form asks the stakeholder to provide a wide range of information, including the reason for the requests and the risks that might arise from it.
Project management change request form
Project Management Docs offers a change request form that you can use for project management. Available as a Word doc, this template clearly asks stakeholders to strategically outline the necessary changes. It will ask why the change is being made, the risks involved, and the alternatives being considered.
Project change request form
The University of Waterloo has a project management office, and they shared their project change request form. This template can help with the request, approval, and documentation of changes related to your project. Since the template comes as a Word doc, it’s a great choice for organizations where MS Office is used.
Project change request template (direct download)
The University of California has a detailed change request template for projects that’s free to download. This Word doc provides a lot of information for stakeholders, including the reasons why the template exists, how it should be used, and how to get the most from it. If you want the most comprehensive template possible, this option will work well for you.
Website change request form template
WPForms is a leading WordPress plugin that helps businesses and individuals collect information through attractive and performant forms. This plugin offers a change request template, which makes it easy to collect change requests online. This plugin is simple to use, and you can get an attractive online form for change requests up and running in no time.
Simple change request form
Project Templates Guru offers a simple change request form. Available as a Word doc, the request form runs across a single page and speeds up the change request process. You may find that your stakeholders are more likely to constructively interact with this template than more exhaustive options.
Project change requests don’t have to be disruptive. If you’re prepared with the right project change process, you can seamlessly integrate change requests into your workflow and lead your team to success.
Max is a SaaS enthusiast and loves actionable content that provides direct value.