My project sponsor is adding features when the requirements are already signed off

My project sponsor keeps adding features to the application, but the requirements are already documented and approved. Now what?
Because the project sponsors are empowered to direct how the project unfolds, they may assume that they can get whatever they want. They may even act as if they are above the formal change control processes, and can meddle whenever and however they like.

The easiest approach to this situation is, of course, to give them what they want—after all, this is the project sponsor. But this "solution" is shortsighted, because it doesn't look out for the good of the organization.

A better approach is to remind the project sponsor and any other business stakeholders, gently but firmly, about the change control processes for the requirements. Ideally, you've set clear expectations during the requirements walkthrough for how all changes will be handled, and you've enforced the change control processes consistently. If not, it's never too late to start.

Communicate to your business stakeholders that the requirements have been approved, baselined, and are now in development. Help them understand what this means by providing examples of the impacts that changes are likely to have on the work (e.g., rework, schedule slip, monetary costs, etc.).

Communicate how the change control process for requirements works within the project. Offer examples of valid changes, and walk them through the process of how changes are submitted, reviewed, and evaluated. Who reviews the changes? What do they look for? What happens next? Remind them that not all changes are approved automatically. Changes that don't add business value shouldn't be incorporated at all, and changes that add less business value than they cost to implement should be postponed or deferred until a less-costly solution can be identified.

Make sure the change control process is clear to the project team as well. Reflect on how frustrating it will be to discover that a developer has been incorporating changes that you don't even know about. Your project manager should be very supportive of the change control process, because it will help them manage changes at the project level.

Then stick to your guns. It may be uncomfortable, and it's a good idea to get the support and backing of your project manager. Your sponsor may be temporarily frustrated by the constraints (which they will likely see as restraints), but in the end you'll be establishing credibility with them by your thorough, diligent, consistent approach.











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