What Is a Change Control Process? +Examples, Templates (2024)

What Is a Change Control Process? +Examples, Templates (2024)

Organizational change is a complex undertaking. These change projects often coincide with other large organizational projects and may spiral out of control without a tracking process system.

However, with a change control process in place, change leaders are empowered to easily manage all incoming change requests, analyze potential blockers, and drive successful implementation.  

In this blog, we explore the change control process, its stages, and how you can leverage one to create an effective change management strategy.

What Is Change Control?

Change control refers to the systematic process of managing any modifications or adjustments made to a project, system, product, or service. This ensures that all proposed changes undergo a structured evaluation, approval, implementation, and documentation process.

Change control aims to maintain the integrity and consistency of a system or project by ensuring that changes are introduced in a controlled and coordinated way, minimizing potential risks and unintended negative consequences. It ensures that every change is justified, beneficial, and aligned with the overarching objectives and requirements. 

The change control process should consider the scale and complexity of change for streamlining purposes. For example, change initiatives at scale – such as digital transformation – requires the support of multiple departments and team members, and have higher associated risks. Such initiatives require formalized and extensive control processes.

Change control vs. change management

Although change control and change management are related terminologies, the two have significant differences. 

Change control is part of the overall change management process. It’s the “how” of managing and implementing change.

While the change control process is essential for streamlining a change initiative and includes formal documentation of the change, change management is an overarching plan that considers all the various project aspects, from budgeting, to communication, to implementation and more. It’s more about the “why” and “what” – the reasoning behind instituting changes, the strategies used to implement them, and the tools and techniques used to support the process.

Benefits of a Change Control Process

During a change implementation project, the change control process provides several crucial benefits, including:

1. Improved productivity

Research suggests that an average employee is only productive for three working hours a day. One of the major reasons for this behavior is unclear deliverables or a poorly managed execution process. Change control often rectifies this issue by reducing employee confusion on project deliverables, helping to improve overall employee productivity.

2. Collaborative teamwork

The change control process streamlines the implementation by documenting all the project details in a centralized location. It also helps provide clear team communication, allowing cross-functional teams to collaborate seamlessly on a change initiative.

3. Effective change communication

Transparency in change management communication is critical to prepare your workforce for an upcoming change and to accept that change at both an individual & company-wide level. Effective change communication will allow you to deal head-on with various barriers to change and reduce internal resistance.

4. Decreased cost of change

The change control process effectively reduces risks associated with a change initiative and minimizes the risk of change failure. The streamlined approach results in resource optimization and decreased project costs.

5. Enhanced compliance and traceability

Especially relevant in more regulated industries, a change control process ensures that all changes adhere to certain standards and guidelines. By documenting each step of the process, organizations have a clear audit trail. This not only helps in demonstrating compliance during audits, but also provides a historical reference for future change initiatives.

Especially relevant in more regulated industries, a change control process ensures that all changes adhere to certain standards and guidelines. By documenting each step of the process, organizations have a clear audit trail. This not only helps in demonstrating compliance during audits, but also provides a historical reference for future change initiatives.

6. Reduced risks and unintended consequences

An effective change control process involves assessing and mitigating risks. Companies can avoid unwanted and unintended consequences by anticipating potential challenges and developing plans to address them. This proactive approach promotes business continuity and ensures that changes have a positive impact instead of causing disruption.

7. Continuous improvement and feedback integration

One of the most significant benefits of a change control process is its cyclical nature. After changes are implemented, change feedback is gathered and analyzed to ensure organizations are always evolving, refining, and improving their processes, systems, and strategies.

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When to Use a Change Control Process

Whether driven by tech advancements, market shifts, internal improvements, or regulatory compliance, change is inevitable and can significantly impact an organization’s operations. The change control process serves as a systematic approach to manage these transitions, ensuring that changes are beneficial, aligned with business goals, and introduced with minimal disruption. 

But when is it the right time to employ this structured method? 

Understanding the scenarios that warrant implementing a change control process is crucial, ensuring that organizations harness change as a tool for growth.

  • Significant system modifications: When there are significant system changes, it’s crucial to be cautious, especially when changes could affect the continuity of business operations.
  • Regulatory and compliance requirements: Industries with strict guidelines, like pharmaceuticals, finance, or aviation, often require a formalized change control process to demonstrate compliance and maintain records of changes.
  • Product changes: When there’s a need to alter product features, specifications, or design after its initial release or during development, it’s essential to manage these product changes systematically.
  • Process alterations: It’s crucial to adopt a change control approach whenever there are alterations to core business processes or operational procedures, especially when the goal is to enhance efficiency or adapt to new conditions.
  • Project scope changes: In the realm of project management, if there are proposed alterations to a project’s scope, budget, or timelines, these project scope changes must be handled tactfully.
  • Software and application updates: Implementing software and application updates, especially those involving significant fixes, updates, or upgrades, is crucial since these can have ramifications for users and other integrated systems.
  • Equipment or hardware changes: For critical changes to equipment or hardware that might influence the production process or delivery of services, it’s key to have a structured process in place.
  • Changes in contractual agreements: When there’s a need to modify terms, conditions, or other significant elements in contracts with suppliers, clients, or partners, these changes in contractual agreements should be managed with care.
  • Organizational structure changes: Organizational structure changes, especially during significant events like mergers, acquisitions, or any major restructuring, can have huge impacts on a company’s personnel or operational hierarchy and require careful management.
  • Quality management: Quality management becomes a top priority when changes might affect the quality of a product or service, especially in industries where quality assurance is crucial.
  • Documentation and policy updates: When company policies, standards, or important documentation need revision, updates, or even elimination, it’s essential to manage these documentation and policy updates systematically.
  • Resource allocation or reassignment: Resource allocation or reassignment is necessary when there’s a significant shift in how resources, like personnel, budget, or materials, are designated for various tasks or projects.
  • Addressing identified risks: When it comes to dealing with risks that have been identified during assessment, it’s crucial to address them in a systematic way in order to effectively respond to and minimize their impact.
  • Response to external factors: Companies must be responsive to external factors, like changes in market dynamics, shifts in customer preferences, technological advancements, or evolving regulatory and legal landscapes.

5 Stages of the Change Control Process

When a change project fails, it can expose an organization to risks and incur costs at both the organizational and project levels. Here is a five-stage framework to establish a successful change control process:

5 stages of change control process

1. Initiate change request

In this stage, there is a clear need for change due to business process inefficiencies, technological advancements, and evolving customer needs. These types of change requests come from various areas of an organization – a project team member, leadership, or a customer. 

This requires organizations to have open communication channels to hear the voice of the customer (VoC) and insights from various team members and departments. There must be a detailed change proposal describing the change and how it would benefit the company to initiate a change request. The initiator must outline the reasons for the change on the change request form, which is further added to the changelog. 

Here are some examples of what to include in your change request:

  • Project name
  • Date
  • Request description
  • Requested by
  • Change owner
  • Priority
  • Impact of change
  • Deadline
  • Comments

2. Evaluate the change request

In the second phase, the change request is assessed to evaluate the resource requirement, budgeting, and impact on the company. This step also comprises risk evaluation and any behavioral modifications required for the change to succeed. Finally, the process moves to the next step if the change is approved. If rejected, the reasons are documented and communicated to the stakeholders and client.

  • If a change request is not legitimate, you must deny or cancel it as a project manager. 
  • Then, you need to determine the resources required for the change request analysis. 
  • After that, quickly evaluate the potential outcomes, and revise the request form as needed. 
  • At this point, rejected requests for modifications should be put on hold.

3. Develop a change management strategy

The third stage includes detailed planning for a change initiative. Change leaders build a clear & concise strategy, including timelines, resources, pilot testing, and how to minimize the impact of change. Here are a few action items for a successful organizational change: 

4. Implement change

In this step of the change control process, a company begins to disrupt the status quo and initiates the change action plan. It’s crucial to ensure that the change implementation occurs in phases and not at once.

5. Close change request

Review the implemented change to mark it as a success or failure. Once the change initiator signs off the document for closure, the process is finalized and closed for future reference.

Tips for Implementing a Change Control Process

Implementing an effective change control process can be a game-changer for organizations, driving efficiency and ensuring that changes are well-executed and aligned with business objectives. However, the journey to successful implementation comes with challenges. 

To navigate these complexities and ensure a smooth transition, consider the following tips that have proven beneficial for many organizations embarking on this path.

1. Engage all relevant stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement is the cornerstone of any change initiative. Involving those directly or indirectly affected by a change ensures that multiple perspectives are considered. This engagement fosters a sense of ownership and inclusion, which is critical to the success of the change control process.

Stakeholders also often provide valuable insights that might otherwise be overlooked. Their feedback can identify frustrating roadblocks, enhance the efficiency of the process, and drive a more unified approach to implementing changes.

2. Maintain clear documentation

Having a comprehensive documentation system serves as a historical record of all changes made, which ensures transparency, clarity, and traceability. This documentation becomes an essential resource for any team member who needs to understand the rationale, methodology, and outcomes of previous changes.

Well-maintained process documentation also provides a framework for future changes, ensuring consistency and reducing the likelihood of errors. It facilitates knowledge sharing, making it easier for new team members to get up to speed and contribute to ongoing change initiatives.

3. Establish a change control board (CCB)

A change control board (CCB) is responsible for overseeing the change control process. By bringing together a diverse group of experts and decision-makers, the CCB ensures that changes are evaluated holistically, taking into account various organizational perspectives.

The CCB has a dual role of ensuring that changes align with the organizational objectives while also acting as a gatekeeper to allow only well-planned and essential changes to proceed. This centralized decision-making structure ensures that changes are strategic, beneficial, and well-coordinated.

4. Prioritize changes

It’s not uncommon for organizations to have limited resources, making it crucial to prioritize changes based on urgency, impact, and feasibility. By ranking changes, organizations ensure that the most critical and beneficial changes are addressed first.

A structured prioritization process also fosters better decision-making and reduces the risk of changes that might not yield significant benefits. It clarifies the change control process and ensures alignment with broader organizational goals.

5. Implement standardized procedures

Standardized procedures bring consistency and predictability to the change control process. They outline a clear roadmap for initiating, evaluating, and implementing changes, ensuring that all team members have a common understanding of the steps involved.

Having standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place also reduces the risk of errors and oversights. They act as a safety net, ensuring that all changes—regardless of their size or complexity—are handled with the same level of diligence and care.

6. Provide training and raise awareness

Change control is most effective when everyone involved understands its intricacies. Change management training sessions empower stakeholders with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the change control process efficiently, ensuring they play an active, informed role.

Alongside training, raising awareness about the reasons for and benefits of changes ensures buy-in from the organization. A well-informed team is more likely to support, advocate for, and effectively implement changes, making the overall process smoother and more successful.

7. Communicate regularly about change status

Communication connects all elements of a change control process. Organizations can foster transparency and trust by keeping stakeholders updated about the status of changes.

Regular communication also provides an opportunity for feedback, allowing for real-time adjustments and refinements. It ensures everyone is aligned and working towards a common goal, making the entire change control process more cohesive and collaborative.

8. Maintain flexibility within the process

Change is inherently unpredictable. Even with the best plans in place, unforeseen circumstances and challenges can arise. That’s why flexibility with the change control process is crucial—it ensures a structured approach to managing change and room to adapt when necessary.

Being rigid can lead to inefficiencies, missed opportunities, or even failures in implementation. Flexibility allows for better responsiveness to a project’s evolving needs and realities, ensuring that the change control process remains effective and relevant.

9. Incorporate a risk assessment

Every change, no matter how well-planned, comes with potential risks. Organizations can identify, evaluate, and mitigate potential threats associated with proposed changes by incorporating a risk assessment stage within the change control process.

A thorough risk assessment not only safeguards against potential pitfalls, but also instills confidence in stakeholders. Knowing that risks have been considered and planned for ensures a more streamlined implementation, reducing uncertainties and enhancing the overall robustness of the change control process.

10. Establish a constructive feedback mechanism

Feedback is a vital aspect of continuous improvement. Establishing a mechanism where employees can share their observations, experiences, and suggestions ensures that the change control process is dynamic and improves over time.

Constructive feedback, when acted upon, can lead to refinements that make processes more efficient, user-friendly, and effective. It fosters a culture of open communication where employees feel valued and heard, promoting greater engagement and collaboration throughout the change control journey.


11. Utilize technology to facilitate change control

In today’s fast-paced business environment, leveraging technology can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the change control process. Tools and platforms can automate various stages, provide real-time tracking, and ensure seamless stakeholder communication.

Technology also ensures that data is stored, accessed, and analyzed systematically. This not only brings speed and accuracy to the process, but also provides valuable insights through data analytics, enabling better decision-making and fostering a more data-driven approach.

12. Conduct post-implementation reviews

Once a change has been implemented, it’s crucial to evaluate its effectiveness and the overall efficiency of the change control process. Conducting post-implementation reviews allows organizations to assess what went well and where there might be room for improvement.

These reviews are not just backward-looking; they also provide essential learnings for future change initiatives. Organizations can refine their approach by understanding the successes and challenges of a recently completed change and ensure that subsequent changes are even more successful.

13. Carry out regular audits

Change control processes, like all organizational procedures, benefit from regular audits. These audits dive deep into the workings of the process, ensuring that it’s being followed correctly and identifying areas where it could be improved.

An audit isn’t just about compliance; it’s about continuous improvement. By regularly examining the change control process, organizations can stay ahead of potential issues, ensure alignment with industry best practices, and maintain the process’s effectiveness.

14. Commit to continuous improvement

The business environment is in a constant state of flux, and what works today might not necessarily be the best approach tomorrow. That’s why committing to continuous improvement ensures that the change control process remains relevant, efficient, and aligned with an organization’s goals.

Embracing a mindset of continuous process improvement means regularly evaluating and refining the process. This approach ensures that the change control process not only responds to current needs, but also anticipates future challenges and opportunities, keeping the organization agile and ahead of the curve.

Top 7 Change Control Process Tools

Navigating the complexities of organizational change demands more than just strategic planning; it requires robust technological support. The tools that enable, track, and enhance every stage are essential for the success of this methodical approach.

Here are some of the best change management software and project management tools that aid in the change control process:

Jira Align logo

1. Jira

G2 Rating: 4.3 out of 4 stars

Price: Starts at $10/user/month

Originally designed for software bug tracking, Atlassian’s Jira has evolved into a versatile tool that supports change management processes. Its customizable workflows make it adaptable to a variety of change control scenarios.

Key features:

  • Customizable workflows allow for creating workflows that can be tailored to fit specific change control requirements.
  • Real-time collaboration empowers teams to work together on change requests, update statuses, and add comments in real time.
  • Advanced reporting provides insights into the change control activities, helping teams monitor progress and identify bottlenecks.
  • Integration capabilities allow for seamless integration with other tools, enhancing the change control process with additional functionalities.
  • Permission and access control ensure that only authorized personnel can submit, review, or approve change requests.

2. ServiceNow

G2 Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Price: Contact for pricing


ServiceNow offers an IT Service Management (ITSM) suite that includes change management functionalities. Its platform allows users to automate change processes, track changes, and integrate with other ITSM practices.

Top Change Management Tools - ServiceNow

Key features:

  • ITSM suite offers a comprehensive toolset that includes dedicated change management functionalities.
  • Automated change processes reduce manual steps by automating processes based on predefined criteria.
  • Impact analysis assesses the potential impacts of a proposed change on various systems and processes.
  • Visual task boards provide a visual representation of change requests, helping teams prioritize and track progress.
  • Audit trails ensure compliance by logging every action and change made within the system.
microsoft project logo

3. Microsoft Project

G2 Rating:4.1 out of 5 stars

Price: Starts at $7/user/month

As a comprehensive project management tool, Microsoft Project can be adapted to track and manage changes, particularly when they’re part of larger projects.

microsoft project

Key features:

  • Detailed project planning allows for meticulous planning of changes, including resource allocation and timelines.
  • Dependency mapping highlights how different tasks and components are interrelated, aiding in understanding the ripple effects of changes.
  • Gantt charts provide a visual representation of project timelines, assisting teams in monitoring progress of change initiatives.
  • Resource management keeps track of available resources, ensuring optimal allocation for change tasks.
  • Collaboration tools enable team members to communicate and collaborate on change initiatives within the platform.

4. Trello

G2 Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars

Price: Free version available, price determined by tier


Trello‘s card-based system can be used to represent change requests. Its simplicity and visual nature can be useful for teams that want a straightforward way to track and manage changes.


Key features:

  • Card-based system allows each change request to be represented by a card, allowing for a visual and organized layout.
  • Flexible boards can be customized to represent various stages of the change control process.
  • Team members can add comments, attach documents, and move cards between lists in real time as changes happen.
  • Integration with power-ups enhances the tool’s capabilities by integrating with other applications and services.
  • Simple invite system and straightforward user interface make team collaboration effortless.

5. Asana

G2 Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

Price: Free version available

As a task and project management tool, Asana can be customized to handle change requests, prioritize them, and assign them to appropriate team members.


Key features:

  • Task and project management capabilities organize change requests into tasks and projects for structured management.
  • Timeline view visualizes the progression of changes, aiding in understanding project timelines and dependencies.
  • Priority setting allows teams to prioritize change requests based on various criteria.
  • Can be integrated with a wide range of tools to enhance change control functionalities.
  • Real-time feedback provides an interactive space for team members to discuss and provide feedback on change requests.

6. Confluence

G2 Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars

Price: Starts at $10/month


Another product from Atlassian, Confluence is a collaborative documentation tool. It can document change requests, maintain change logs, and store related documentation.


Key features:

  • Collaborative documentation provides a centralized space for documenting change requests, procedures, and related information.
  • Page templates offer a variety of templates suited for various stages of the change control process.
  • Permission settings ensure that sensitive information related to changes is accessible only to authorized personnel.
  • Audit logs track changes made within Confluence, providing a history of modifications for accountability.

7. Monday.com

G2 Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Price: Starts at $8/4 seats/month


Monday.com is a work operating system that empowers teams to run projects and workflows with confidence. Its visual project management and team collaboration software is popular for change control and other uses.


Key features:

  • Visual Work OS provides a clear view of change processes, from initiation to completion.
  • Automation capabilities enable the automation of repetitive tasks in the change control process.
  • The integration center connects various tools, enhancing the change control ecosystem.
  • Time tracking monitors time spent on change control activities, aiding in resource optimization.
  • Customizable workflows offer adaptable boards and templates to fit specific change control methodologies.

Example of a Change Control Process: Software Implementation

Change control is used across industries to act as a check on an entire project. Let’s consider an example from IT change management – software implementation

Software implementation is a risky and complex task, and to avoid any implementation failures, every organization must consider the following action items:

  • The scope of the implementation project: After conducting a need assessment, list out the required features & integrations needed. Narrow your research down to top vendors suited according to the budget. 
  • Create a data migration & implementation plan: Create a multi-functional team with the required expertise to create a backup plan and initiate data migration. Additionally, create an employee training program to bridge the skill gap post-implementation. 
  • Pilot testing: Create a sandbox environment to test the software for any bugs and configuration requirements. Before you launch the new application to the entire company, choose one or two teams to run a soft launch with. This will help you identify any early bugs before you launch the new tool for the entire organization.
  • Launch and integration: Launch and integrate the new software. Create new account logins and send training materials to end-users. 
  • Feedback: Collect regular feedback to identify any issues or common questions that can be added to your application support documentation

Free Change Control Templates

Change control requires quite a lot of documentation and manual work. Change control templates come in handy to help minimize these administrative tasks. 

Here are a few  common templates for you to get started with a change control process:

  1. Change Request Form
  2. Change Log Template
  3. Project Management Template
Get your Change Control Process template now!

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Drive Adoption of Your Change Initiatives With Whatfix

In an evolving business landscape, understanding and implementing a change control process is more crucial than ever. Change control not only streamlines modifications within a project or system, but also ensures that every alteration is beneficial, efficient, and in line with an organization’s objectives. From deciding when to employ a change control process to utilizing free templates, the journey can be extensive. However, the heart of successful change lies in its adoption.

Change processes, while foundational, can be daunting. The intricacies of change management require robust tools to ensure effective transition and, above all, a high adoption rate. One of the most significant challenges any organization faces is resistance to change. More often than not, this resistance stems from a lack of understanding or the overwhelming nature of new processes. Enter Whatfix—a game-changer in the realm of digital adoption.

By leveraging a digital adoption platform (DAP) like Whatfix, you’re not just introducing change; you’re handholding your employees through it. Whatfix ensures a seamless transition by providing in-app guidance and interactive walkthroughs that enable employees to learn and adapt within the context of their actual work environment. Employees are actively engaged instead of passively receiving training, reducing the learning curve and accelerating productivity.

What makes Whatfix stand out among other tools is its commitment to real-time, personalized training experiences. With 24/7 end-user support available in multiple formats and embedded directly within your applications, it eradicates the conventional barriers to learning. Through intuitive task lists, customized pop-ups, and self-help modules, Whatfix supports users, especially during those crucial initial stages of change.

While understanding the mechanics of the change control process is vital, ensuring its successful adoption is where true success lies. With Whatfix, you’re not just managing change; you’re championing it. Whether you’re undertaking significant system modifications, software implementations, or any other change process, consider Whatfix as your ally in ensuring change is implemented and embraced.

Explore Whatfix today and transform your change control process into an empowering and seamless experience for your entire organization.


Above: Enable your employees with contextual user support and accelerate IT adoption with Whatfix's digital adoption platform.

The Whatfix Digital Adoption Platform empowers IT teams to create in-app guidance and self-service user support on all internal desktop, web, and mobile applications. Enable employees with Self Help, which overlays onto your CRM, HCM, ERP, CPQ, and other digital workplace applications. Self Help connects to your process and IT documentation, LMS, video tutorials, onboarding documents, and other IT support-related content to provide employees self-help, at the moment of need. Create additional in-app guidance and pop-ups to contextually guide users through applications and alert them to process changes.

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Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that provides organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guidance on any application that looks 100% native. With Whatfix, create interactive walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, smart tips, field validation, self-help wikis, hotspots, and more. Understand how users are engaging with your applications with advanced product analytics.
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