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PMP® Exam Series – Change request, Corrective Actions, and Preventive actions

  • PMP®
  • Project Integration Management
Created on :
July 24, 2014
Updated on :
October 27, 2022
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Change Request is a very sensitive term in the Project Management. In spite of you working hard to complete your project as per scope, schedule and cost as a project manager, inevitable thing always occurs which is referred to as a Change. This blog clarifies how to manage these modifications in project execution by major weapons mentioned in Project Management Study i.e. Change Request, Corrective Action and Preventive action, Defect Repair. It will be very helpful to PMP® test takers.

As per PMBOK® Guide , whenever issues are found while project work is being performed, submit a change request which may/ may not modify project scope, schedule and cost baselines.

Ideally a change request can be considered as a formal / official document containing a call for adjustment. In the software implementation project, modifications in report output format can be considered as a Change Request, unavailability of resources would be a Change which certainly requires corrective or preventive action, if a particular formula is not working as per state logic requires a change hence Change Request is the output of almost all the processes in Monitoring and controlling Group i.e. Monitor and Control Project Work, Control scope, Control Schedule, Control Cost, Control Quality, Control, Communication, Control Risks, Control Procurement, and Control Stakeholder Engagement.

Change Request is an output of few executing process group processes like Direct and Manage Project work, Perform Quality assurance, Manage Project Team, conduct procurement, manage stakeholder engagement.

Apart from that Change Request is a part of only one planning process group process i.e. Plan Procurement. Though PMBOK® Guide has not precisely mentioned that why Change Request is output of only Plan Procurement (Planning process), it can be fairly considered for a reason because Plan procurement process will decide whether to buy, build or rent any particular component, item, service it could lead into changes in project management plan.

As per PMBOK® Guide 

Change Request is a formal proposal to modify any document, deliverable or baseline.

Now let’s analyze following few examples.

You are a project manager for a project who is responsible to complete a development and implementation of an application. During deployment stage, you realize installation of software is done on a server which is getting used for lot of other applications. As a best practice you recommend to have your application on a separate server for security reason so you take an action to uninstall from the existing server and load it on another separate server.

The action taken above is of a type Corrective action which is carried out only after a problem occurs. However, in same software you find the particular formula is not giving the desired output so you perform testing and come to know it requires fixing of the formula. This would be considered as a defect repair which is conducted at that point of time to fix a particular error / defect.

In the same software implementation project, you come to know that developing a code for a particular functionality is tedious and complicated, so you convince a customer for not including it in the current implementation and customer agrees to have it in the next phase. The action taken to remove that particular component from existing implementation is a Preventive Action. It is carried out before the problem occurs.

In spite of following best practices and structured documentation approach, a project manager often faces a challenge in managing customer’s expectations. In the software implementation during final stage of implementation where software is about to go live, customer may request for a change in access rights settings or additional security privileges creation etc. All such mentioned requirements could be minor or major but does fall under Change Request category which requires clear and concise documentation. This change request document will also have information about the impact on scope, schedule and cost. If any of the baselines are getting affected due to this proposed change, then this change should be discussed in Change control committee and based on their decision, execution will be carried away.

Following is the comparative description for three commonly misinterpreted terms of Change Request

Corrective Actions Preventive Actions Defect Repair
Intentional activity that realigns the performance of the project work with the project management plan An intentional activity that ensures the future performance of the project work is aligned with the project management plan An intentional activity to modify a non-conforming product or product component.
These are the steps taken to remove the causes of existing undesirable situation These are the steps taken to remove the causes of potential undesirable situations. These are steps taken to correct existing undesirable situation
Reactive in nature Proactive in nature Instant in nature
Should be taken place when a situation has occurred Should be taken place when a situation has not occurred Should be taken place as an immediate action when the situation occurs
Don’t let it happen again Don’t let it happen at all Don’t let it go
E.g. On hiking, hiking shoes got torn or broken, fixing the broken part and start using the same shoes would be corrective action E.g. Carrying a pair of extra shoes would be preventive action E.g. Before starting hiking, inspecting the shoes and stitching and or fixing the areas would be defect repair

There are further two more confusing terms in PMBOK® Guide

  • Recommendation of corrective action – may bring the expected future performance of the project back in line with the project management plan. These are nothing but preventive actions only.
  • Recommendation of Preventive actions – an activity may reduce the probability of incurring future negative project performance.

To conclude, any change in scope, schedule or cost of the project should be considered as a change request. Request for a change could be direct or indirect, internal or external, hence could be chargeable or non chargeable to the customer and may include Corrective action, Preventive Action or Defect repair.

I hope this blog helps you in clearing the doubt related to Change Requests, Corrective actions, and Preventive Actions. For further queries, you can drop your questions in the feedback. We will get back to you ASAP.

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