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When Requirements are Important, Changes can be Devastating to Project Success!

Just absorb it, it’s not much of a change!  Everyone is on board, so be a team player! Trust me, I’ll have your back if it causes issues! Just absorb it – your team can handle it!  Why stir up the pot and make things difficult?


The easiest way to handle a product requirement change (i.e., the addition of a requirement) on a project is to just simply absorb it. Everyone wants this – the management team, the project team, and any other project stakeholder. And doing so is the “Path of Least Resistance”!


In my earlier days as a project manager I got sucked into complying with all these requests – and lived to regret it.  Now, I stress the importance of always performing due diligence when it comes to requirements changes, and this graphic explains why I have that attitude.


This graphic shows the various potential repercussions of a product requirements change relative to the other key project constraints.   

  1. A new requirement usually adds scope to the project plan.
  2. Added scope usually leads to the need for additional resources.
  3. Added scope could also lead to an overall project schedule push-out.
  4. Scope and/or schedule increases typically lead to added project costs.
  5. Off-setting requirement changes/reductions could help reduce the impact.
  6. If no action is taken you typically end up absorbing more project risk.


Thus, changes to product requirements can potentially affect all other project constraints. If left unchecked, the project plan can be severely jeopardized due to the absorption of too much risk – and, by the way, there is a limit to risk absorption. A “balanced” project plan is one that accommodates achievement of all the project constraints and does so within the organizational risk tolerance thresholds. You should strive to effectively re-balance whenever constraints change too much – and this should be done throughout the Project Life Cycle.


I’ve learned the hard way that a good project manager must be diligent in evaluating and negotiating all proposed product requirement changes (whether others like it or not) to keep them to a minimum – for they can be devastating to project success, especially if absorbed due to the reluctance (by various stakeholders) to allow any of the other constraints to change.


If you like this post, please share it, and go to RTConfidence.com to check out other posts. Our newly released product, Chrono™, enables PMs and organizational leaders to effectively evaluate and manage overall project risks – it is designed by users for users, is affordable, and the embedded wizards make it very easy to learn and use.


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