What to do when plans change


Change management

How to keep projects on track when plans change


Change is certain, progress is not. As an inevitable part of any process, change directly influences a project’s life cycle and chances of success. This is why project managers need to consider this factor as early as possible, so they know what to do when plans change and, thus, keep the project on track in spite of it. In other words - following the adage ”prevention is better than cure”, building a change control system in advance is the best way to handle the actual occurring modifications.

However, there are times when unprecedented or unpredictable circumstances interfere and might take even the most prepared PMs by surprise. Hence, we created this blog post to provide guidance on how you can establish a change management process (if your company doesn’t already have one) and take the best action to ensure project delivery.


Effective change control - steps to take when plans change


Change control is a formal process that provides a set of specified measures which project teams can use to adapt the scope of the project when modifications occur. Anything that would impact the development and quality of a project counts as an element of change (time, budget, workforce etc.).

With parameters varying from one project to another, it is natural that change management would require different courses of action specific to each case. However, a straightforward and efficient change control process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Defining the change request
  2. Assessing the change request
  3. Proposing recommended ways to proceed
  4. Final decision – the approval or declination of the request

1. Defining the change request

A change request is the documentation used to solicit an alteration and can be as simple as an email or as complex as a formal document. The one who initiates the actual request needs to explain it so that all parties involved understand it well enough to define it. Here are the supporting elements of a change request:

  • Actual request – a statement of the need that clearly outlines the change item for the project team to analyze;
  • Reason for the request - the customer and business impact caused if the request is not accepted or completed;
  • Conditions of success - the effects and results expected from the change request;
  • Expected completion – an expected due date for the item, provided by the requester not as an ultimate deadline, but as a reference point for the project team to consider when defining options;
  • Expected value – the explanation for why the request is necessary.

2. Assessing the change request

Once the request is documented, it is then submitted to the project team for review. The submittal can be done either informally (through email) or formally (memo or meeting). The former method is usually employed for simple requests, whereas the latter provides the proper context for complex requests to be reviewed, questions to be asked and decisions to be facilitated.

This step actually involves two phases:

  • the clear presentation of the request with a focus on project budget regarding materials, any relevant permit requirements, man-hours, time lost/gained; during this meeting the expected turnaround time should also be discussed and set.
  • the project team’s review followed by discussions and feedback on the request.

3. Proposing recommended ways to proceed

The next step requires project teams to define at least two viable options based on the reviewed change request and create a response document. The document goes to the client, along with the data points below:

  • Option number and name
  • Proposed solution - suggesting how to respond to the change request; it can vary from a technical direction to the justification why this approach is put forward
  • Proposed timeline - the sequence of events and their estimated duration throughout the change process; it helps the customer leverage when deciding which of the options presented by the team is optimal.
  • Impacts to the project – an essential part of the response document, it explains the costs, the impact on the timeline and resources, and potential quality results. Does the team have to get additional people? Do the existing resources need to add or remove time on the project? All of these aspects should be outlined clearly so that the customer can make an informed decision.
  • Expiration date for proposed changes – setting a timeframe for the client to respond to the options presented. This helps create urgency in the process.

4. Final decision – the shareholders’ approval or declination of the request

The shareholders provide feedback on the submitted change control response document. Depending on whether the shareholders’ decision has been a timely or a delayed one, the following scenarios can result:

  • Timely feedback (observing the timeframe specified in the Change Control Response document) – the shareholders communicate which of the suggested options is optimal and its implementation begins, with the right teams being delegated to carry out the corresponding tasks. If none of the recommendations are found viable, the whole process restarts.
  • Delayed feedback (exceeding the specified timeframe) – the project team re-evaluates the initial plan to determine if too much development has occurred to support the recommendations, or if the delay has caused any other impacts. Based on the findings, the Change Control Response document is updated or even redone (all of the above steps are replicated with new proposals).

No matter which of the two cases above applies, the final decision needs to be unanimously approved so that an official change management process be instated and endorsed along the way.

Supporting tools and components for enabling change control processes

To ensure the consistent and effective management of change and expectations, a project manager often relies on supporting activities and tools. Given the variety of existing businesses and projects, it’s only natural that a diverse range of structures and frameworks be developed for this purpose.

However, some of the most suitable ones in this respect are:

  • Product or business roadmaps
  • Readiness assessments
  • Continuous improvement plans
  • Business cases
  • Training tutorials
  • Measurement and analytics reports

Choosing the right change management tool makes this process easier and more streamlined. So, when researching which of the available ones is best, you should make sure it will allow you to:

  • Create a clear timeline of what needs to be done, when and by whom
  • Update the existing workflow with new data in real time when necessary
  • Show duration of tasks and track their progress
  • Customize the plan to reflect the specifics of your project
  • Easily share and communicate the established agenda

Conclusion

During times of change, swift adaptation to the evolving context and clear communication of the measures required to sustain re-adjustment and progress become key. An effective change control process in place and a tool that saves you time, allows you to document the steps along the way and quickly update changing plans will make this possible.

Natively built in PowerPoint, the Office Timeline add-in is a simple-to-use yet powerful project management tool which lets you automatically transform complex data into presentation-ready timelines and roadmaps. Use its varied gallery of templates and customizing functionalities to create clear yet content-rich visuals, and its intuitive interface to update them when plans change. Try out its free version to experience the easiness with which timelines come to life, or discover the Pro Edition, which unlocks extra features for more sophisticated results.



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Albert Einstein Timeline

Albert Einstein Timeline

Every year on the 14th of March, the world celebrates the most prominent name in modern physics, whose research would lead to the discovery of atomic energy.

Born in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany, Albert Einstein was brought up in a secular Jewish family, along with his younger sister Maja. An interesting fact about him is that he didn’t start talking until the age of two. His parents had him undergo several medical examinations, but the doctors were unable to find any physical cause for it. When young Albert eventually began uttering words, his speech was marred by frequent pauses, as though he always paid great care when he spoke.

Einstein’s years were marked by hardships: failed business dealings forced his family to relocate to Switzerland where he was confronted with extremely few career prospects. Disheartened, but not discouraged, he writes: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”.

Fortune does eventually offer Einstein some respite in 1902 when he lands a clerk job at a patent office in Bern, Switzerland’s capital. It is believed that the type of clerical work done there helped him become adept at quickly spotting patterns while also affording him the time to focus on his research.

His lucky break comes in 1905 – the “miracle year” – when four major research papers signed by Einstein are published, completely altering the course of modern physics. One of them is “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?” from which the special relativity theory and the legendary equation E=mc2 originate.

For anyone else, the achievements of the “miracle year” might have been enough to comfortably ride the glory train towards a smooth, carefree retirement, but not for Einstein. Recognizing a critical flaw in his special relativity theory – the fact that it does not account for acceleration or gravity - he starts working on a new, more comprehensive one - general relativity – which he completes in 1915.

What general relativity brings to the table is a new definition of gravity. Unlike Sir Isaac Newton’s model, Einstein’s thesis states that high mass objects warp time and space around them, causing a curvature. Putting advanced mathematics aside, the simplest way to picture it is a person jumping on a trampoline with marbles scattered randomly across its surface. Every descent of the jumper causes a depression in the fabric, drawing all the marbles towards the gap.

Naturally, the scientific community originally regarded it as outlandish and it did take them some time to come around. However, it was another important milestone in Albert Einstein’s ascension to fame that culminated with the position of director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, which he held between 1913 and 1933.

His final years were spent almost entirely in isolation in Princeton, the Mecca of scientists at the time. Here, Einstein would continue to work tirelessly on a grand unified field theory where all the laws of physics would fit seamlessly into a single framework. An article published by him in Scientific American in 1950 attempts to map this concept but remains incomplete due to the enigmatic “strong force” that would forever elude him.

Einstein passed away in 1955 from an abdominal aortic aneurysm at the University Medical Center at Princeton, age 76. He declines a surgical intervention, preferring to go on his own terms: “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly”. Albert Einstein’s name will forever go down in history as a symbol for creative thinking, dedication, perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds and unflinching integrity.

The Albert Einstein Timeline was created with the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in, a powerful and simple to use project management utility able to transform complex data into an appealing visual representation within minutes. Try out the free version or explore the Pro Edition, which packs extra features for those who need more sophisticated applications. You can download the Albert Einstein timeline as a PowerPoint file which contains two slides, a condensed version and a more detailed one. Have a happy Einstein Day!



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4 Best Free Timeline Templates for Legal Professionals

Why Legal Timelines Are Important

Being an attorney is hardly as glamorous as in the movies – you probably spend 99% of your time carefully documenting your case to make sure you get your point across when you finally go to court. So here’s a tip: one of the most effective ways for legal professionals to present the sequence of events in court is through the use of legal timelines.

When done properly, such a graphic can prove crucial to organizing your ideas and obtaining a successful outcome at trial because:

  • It unifies the critical elements of the case (evidence, issues, times, dates, facts and witnesses) within a single compelling visual that captures the audience’s attention.
  • It allows litigators, lawyers and attorneys to prepare more persuasive court presentations, and particularly improve their opening/closing statements.
  • It provides judges, jurors and mediators with a logical sequence and clearly outlined overview of the events, thus enabling a better understanding of the case.
  • It helps the parties involved to process information and remember the key facts that have been laid out for them more easily.

Given the potential impact that compelling trial graphics can have in the courtroom, it is worth investing the time and effort to create such visuals. A great way to fast-track the whole process is to start organizing your case for court on the pre-designed framework that a legal timeline template provides.


Office Timeline free trial

Top 4 Templates for Legal Timelines

In this post, we’ve gathered four of the most common types of such templates which you can use to build court presentations with strong impact on judges, jurors and arbitrators. These are:

  1. Crime Timeline Template
  2. Court Timeline Template
  3. Lawyer Timeline Template
  4. Legal Timeline Template

1. Crime Timeline Template


Crime Timeline Template


  • Made for attorneys who need to present a clear overview of events and their circumstances, the crime timeline template will help lay out all the critical facts in an easy-to-follow manner.
  • Using this template to build a chronological, facts-based visual exhibit, attorneys can better analyze evidence, structure their arguments and support them more convincingly in court.
  • The crime template was built natively in PowerPoint, which makes it simple to update and present to your legal team or your client.
  • You can download it for free and manually enter your case information, or you can use the Office Timeline add-in to do this automatically.

2. Court Timeline Template


Court Timeline Template


  • Ideal for lawyers and other legal professionals who need to present evidence in a clear and simple way so that they can easily capture a jury’s attention, the court timeline template can be used at any point throughout a trial (whether during the opening arguments, witness examination or closing statements).
  • Presenting a case’s vital facts chronologically, it turns numerous details into a streamlined PowerPoint timeline which is also useful in depositions, client meetings or in briefings with your legal team.
  • The free court case timeline template is natively designed in PowerPoint, so it can be downloaded and edited manually or automatically using the Office Timeline add-in for PowerPoint.

3. Lawyer Timeline Template


Lawyer Timeline Template


  • Chronologically illustrating the events of a legal case and the timing relationships between those events, this template helps lawyers to better support their oral arguments and make an impactful opening statement in any litigation or defense case. It can be used beyond the court instance, during any lawyering presentation that requires impactful visuals.
  • Using different colors and shapes to highlight the logic behind the elements on the graphic, the lawyer timeline template clearly communicates the essential in a way that is easy for audiences to understand.
  • Made in PowerPoint, it can be updated and further customized using the wide set of formatting controls that come within the presentation platform.
  • Download it for free so you can either manually enter your case information or automatically edit it with Office Timeline’s PowerPoint add-in. Once finished, it can be shared as a static slide or embedded in other Microsoft Office documents, or printed as an image to be handed out.

4. Legal Timeline Template


Legal Timeline Template


  • Presenting the events of a trial case in a chronological sequence that is easy-to-understand, the legal timeline template can be useful in a variety of litigation cases (including business, construction or personal injury, intellectual property and liability litigation).
  • It is a free native PowerPoint template, which enables you to easily update, share and present it. After you download the template, you can edit it manually in PowerPoint or automatically with the Office Timeline PowerPoint plug-in.
  • It serves as an effective alternative to outsourcing the creation of legal timelines, as litigators can leverage all of PowerPoint’s formatting features to customize this template to suit their particular case and theme.

Conclusion

Bringing together the building blocks of your case through a compelling visual can significantly increase the chances of success in court. With jurors and judges being very visual, these legal timeline templates help you deliver vital facts in a format that captures your audience’s attention and better supports your arguments. They were all created with Office Timeline, a user-friendly yet powerful timeline maker which generates professional-looking visuals in PowerPoint with only a few clicks.

Download any of the four templates above and start editing them with the add-in’s free version, or further customize the visuals by adding more items on your timeline using the Pro version of the tool.

For many other free timeline templates, go to our gallery and choose your favorites.



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Charles Darwin Timeline

Charles Darwin Timeline

On the 12th of February, the scientific community celebrates the life and achievements of Charles Darwin, one of the most influential figures in modern biology and widely regarded as the father of evolutionism. The origins of Darwin Day can be traced back to 1909, when over 400 members of the scientific community and distinguished dignitaries convened at Cambridge to honor his contributions. In the same year, both the American Museum of National History and the New York Academy of Science celebrated 100 years since the birth of Charles Darwin and 50 years since the publishing of his most important work, “On the Origin of Species”.

His proclivity for naturalism became apparent from a very early age. Young Charles Darwin grew incredibly fascinated with collecting minerals and insects alongside his brother, Erasmus, whom he joins at boarding school in 1818. However, their paths in life would diverge later on, much to the dismay of his father. Charles joined Erasmus at the University of Edinburgh Medical School but grew bored with the lectures and was unable to stomach surgery.

Darwin’s penchant for understanding the world around him was sparked by the works of brilliant minds of the era, such as John Herschel, Alexander von Humboldt and Adam Sedgwick. On the 27th of December 1831, Charles set sail on the HMS Beagle, a voyage reluctantly funded by his father that would take five years to complete. He would return from this trip as a prominent figure in the scientific circles of British society, as John Stevens Henslow would publish and popularize Darwin’s research in absentia.

Unfortunately, as his fame grew, the pressure of deadlines began mounting. Charles Darwin was never truly able to find an acceptable life-work balance for most of his adult life. He was bedridden for extensive periods, suffering from severe stomach pain, nausea, palpitations and many other symptoms, all stemming from stress. In his own words, “it is a cursed evil to any man to become as absorbed in any subject as I am in mine.”

The passion for research eclipsed virtually all aspects of his tumultuous existence. Even his marriage to Emma Wedgwood constituted a functional decision, one that Charles took after drafting a list of pros and cons; love would not make its way into either category. In all fairness, Darwin made no secret of his views on the matter, stating that “a scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections, – a mere heart of stone.”

He took pride in his relentless search for the ultimate truth about the nature of life and its origins, and rejected convenient but ultimately groundless explanations, such as the existence of a “beneficent and omnipotent God”. The creationist view suggesting that all species had been engineered separately by an all-powerful entity clashed with Darwin’s own observations of how nature is an unforgiving machine forcing every form of life to adapt or perish.

These revolutionary views, which Darwin’s supporters shouted from the rooftops, earned him a resounding fame in the scientific community but drew the antipathy and mockery of theists. Broadly speaking, the concept of natural selection was not incompatible with theology; however, our descent from apes did cross a line and men of the cloth were quick to dismiss it. Caricatures from that era depict Charles Darwin’s bearded visage on the body of a monkey, creating a false analogy between all theories of evolution and Darwinism.

He passed away from heart failure on the 19th of April 1882, and by that time Darwin had gained the support of the scientific community. Thousands attended his funeral and William Spottiswoode, who presided over the Royal Society at the time, arranged for Charles Darwin to be buried at Westminster Abbey, alongside other intellectual influencers like Isaac Newton or John Herschel.

The Charles Darwin Timeline was built using the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in, a robust and easy to use project management tool capable of creating attractive visual representations of your data within minutes. Try out the free version or explore the Pro Edition, which comes with extra features for those who need more advanced applications. You can download the Charles Darwin timeline as a PowerPoint file and enter any historical milestones that you believe we may have missed. Have a happy Darwin Day!



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning timelines, roadmaps and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Pro free for 14 days.

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Martin Luther King Timeline

Martin Luther King Timeline

The third Monday of January each year is dedicated to Martin Luther King, one of the greatest thought leaders of the twentieth century. Officially declared a federal holiday back in 1983 by former President Ronald Reagan, the origins of Martin Luther King Day can be traced back to 1971 when the city of St. Louis, Missouri and others started honoring the great thinker and orator with annual celebrations. However, it wasn't until January 17, 2000, that all 50 states aligned their policy and formally recognized this holiday. Arizona, New Hampshire and Utah were the last states to follow suit. To pay tribute to this special day, we have created the Martin Luther King timeline, which highlights the most significant moments in the life and work of the civil rights leader.

Without a doubt one of the most controversial historical figures, Dr. King forged a strong legacy in the unrelenting battle against social inequity, racial discrimination and segregation. He did not believe that violence could ever represent the answer, regardless of the question. In that sense, Martin Luther King was a firm detractor of the Vietnam war, stating: "The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.". It is important to remember that his teachings came during an incredibly tense socio-economic context where minorities were generally viewed as second-class citizens and abuse against them was commonplace.

A highly educated advocate of the downtrodden, King earns his Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Moorhouse College, Atlanta in June 1948 and a Doctorate in Systematic Theology from Boston University in June 1955. Concurrently, he is awarded a Bachelor of Divinity Degree by the Crozer Theological Seminary and delivers a compelling valedictorian speech, one of many to come. According to scholar and his own accounts, his work was heavily influenced by both religious and non-religious figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Jesus and Abraham Lincoln. It's worth noting, at the same time, that King was not a supporter of biblical literalism, in that he believed we should view the Bible as moralizing mythological literature rather than a historical account of miraculous occurrences. Nonetheless, he was an ordained minister and has led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) group from its founding in 1957 until his passing.

Martin Luther King's merits have been recognized by the greatest minds of his generation: he became the youngest recipient of the most prestigious award, the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1964. Dr. King took this opportunity to announce his intention to donate "every penny" that came with this distinction towards the support of civil rights movements. The honor was awarded to King one year following the famous "I Have a Dream" discourse held in front of a crowd of over 250,000 participants at the Lincoln Memorial. Perhaps slightly less spectacular but still a highly impressive distinction, Time Magazine named him "Man of the Year" and placed him on the cover.

Dr. King believed in affirmative action rather than empty rhetoric. In his words: "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." Nonetheless, while earning him hundreds of thousands of loyal supporters, thanks to his tireless efforts towards building a society where all men are treated equally, he made numerous enemies along the way. The list includes prominent figures of the day, such as J. Edgar Hoover who spearheaded the FBI's smear campaign against him and formulated the accusations of sympathizing with the communists; King was adamant in denying the allegations. His untimely demise is still shrouded in mystery, but it is widely believed that Martin Luther King's socio-political activism is what led to his assassination at the hands of James Earl Ray, a well-known racist and small-time criminal offender.

Even though he was only 39 when his life was tragically cut short, the legacy of MLK is as valuable and thought-provoking today as it was in the 50s and 60s because it challenges the audience to think carefully about the society they want to leave behind for future generations.

The Martin Luther King Timeline was built using the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in, a powerful yet simple to use project management tool capable of rendering attractive visual representations of your data in no time. Try out the free version or explore the Pro Edition, which comes with extra features for those who need more advanced applications. You can download the MLK timeline as a PowerPoint file and add any key moments that you believe we may have missed. Happy Martin Luther King Day!



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning timelines, roadmaps and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Pro free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL