March 02, 2021

How to Manage a Change Request Process in a Traditional or Agile Environment

The change request management process depends on the model used to realize an investment. In sequential models, a change request process is used to change requirements. In iterative models, there is no change request. Instead, additional requirements are defined at each iteration, and requirements that have not yet been realized are prioritized.

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Project & Requirements Management in Sequential Process Models

Projects are carried out based on a need to fulfill business and solution requirements. In traditional project management approaches, defining requirements is not seen as a task in projects.

Figure 1 shows two sequential models, namely the waterfall model and the V-model.

The waterfall model is the best-known sequential process model, which is used primarily in the IT and construction sectors. The waterfall model provides a separation of the phases requirement, design, implementation, review, and maintenance. At each phase transition, it is assumed that the previous phase has been completed. Sequential process models assume that the solution requirements are planned before the implementation of the solution is started. After the requirements are defined, a "design freeze" occurs. The specified requirements are "frozen" and can no longer be changed from this point on without a formal change request1 of the change request management.

Change Request Management Procedure Model Waterfall Model and V-Model Figure 1: Sequential process models - waterfall model and V-model2

When implementing a solution, requirements are considered during change requests and during testing and acceptance of the solution by external or internal customers.

Change Request Process

If additional requirements are identified, or the defined requirements are changed during the implementation of a solution, a "change request process" must be carried out. A change or addition to solution requirements can necessitate adaptations to the project services to be performed, the project deadlines, and the project costs. Adaptations to the project plans must be made accordingly. Changes in the project organization, in project stakeholder relationships, in relationships to other projects, etc., that may be necessary as a result are usually not explicitly taken into account.

Figure 2 shows an example of a change request process.

Change-Request Management Process Figure 2: Change Request Process3

Project & Requirements Management in Iterative Process Models

A frequently used iterative process model is "Scrum," a so-called "agile" model.

The basic Scrum structures are shown in Figure 3.

Structure-Scrum-Modell Figure 3: Structures of the Scrum model4

In the Scrum model, solution requirements are referred to as "user stories" and are summarized in "backlogs." For each iteration ("sprint"), the "product team" may define additional user stories or discard user stories that have already been defined.

Prioritization by the product team and the development team makes it possible to define the user stories in each sprint ("sprint backlog"). During the execution of a Sprint by the development team, no changes to the requirements can be made.

Scrum, therefore, makes it possible to adapt the solution requirements without "change requests iteratively." This makes it possible to react "agilely" to current market conditions.

Roland Gareis Consulting


  1. In-depth information: R. Gareis & L. Gareis; PROJEKT.PROGRAMM.CHANGE, Manz Verlag, Vienna 2017 

  2. R. Gareis & L. Gareis; PROJEKT.PROGRAMM.CHANGE, Manz Verlag, Vienna 2017, p. 107 

  3. R. Gareis & L. Gareis; PROJEKT.PROGRAMM.CHANGE, Manz Verlag, Vienna 2017, p. 390 

  4. R. Gareis & L. Gareis; PROJEKT.PROGRAMM.CHANGE, Manz Verlag, Vienna 2017, p 111 

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Relevant Project Management Terms

Agile Project Management  

Agile project management is a collective term for different project management methods mainly originating from software development. Mostly they follow an iterative process, which means that the project is not planned and executed completely, but tasks and requirements are continuously rewritten allowing a more dynamic and flexible project management. Well-known agile project management methods include Kanban and Scrum.

Change Request  

A change request is a wanted change in a project that occurs after the project charter has already been established. It can extend, change or reduce the scope of the defined project requirements.


A project is a goal-oriented, specific activity, with a start and end date. Taking into account a defined budget, a previously defined goal is to be achieved at a previously determined quality.