Why is Defect Repair Considered as a Change Request?

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What is Defect Repair?

defect repairI started managing projects long time ago. We used to have lot of fun in early days. During that period, we had a common joke in our organization

A competent Project Manager can portray every Defect as a Change Request.

On the other hand, an intelligent Client can introduce every Change Request as a Defect.

Don’t get me wrong. Project management is a serious affair. But a happy team goes an extra mile to complete the project tasks. It is always good to deal with serious things in humorous manner. This was just one of the jokes that kept us spirited and motivated. There were many other things we used to do. At the same time, we were pretty serious about our project tasks. Our first priority was to do what it takes to meet the project objectives and to keep the customer happy.

Let us talk about today. In my observation some Project Managers have taken the above joke literally. Some Project Managers try to go one up on Customers. In short run it might reduce their work. It might even seem to be a prudent thing to do. But in long run it causes lot of heart-ache. It spoils the relationship and creates distrust. I believe a healthy discussion with an attitude of give & take can always resolve tough situations.

In my opinion PMBOK® Guide also has not helped the matters. PMBOK® Guide has categorized “Defect Repair” as a type of “Change Request”. The Guide does not explain anything more than that. So it is left to the reader to interpret what it means.

Should a PM present Defects as Change Requests to the customer? Let us answer this question by answering series of questions.

What is a Defect?

A defect is any non-conformance, in the work-product(s), to the stated needs and specifications. A defect can be a fault or inconsistency or imperfection that affects the function(s) of a deliverable(s) or a component(s) or the whole system.

You can also refer to PMBOK® Guide or look at Max Wideman’s Glossary for some other definitions of Defect.

What is Defect Repair?

A wilful act to modify a deliverable or a component or the whole system to remove Defects and make such a deliverable or a component or the whole system conformant to the stated needs and specifications.

What is a Change Request (CR)

I have taken the following definition from my post on Change Management. You can refer to the post for some other definitions related to Change and Change Management.

A Change Request is a formal documented proposal submitted to Change Control Board (CCB) for taking decision on a Change. A CR document contains complete description of the Change along with its Impact Analysis.

Is Defect a Change Request?

No. Defect, in itself, is certainly not a change. Since a Defect is a non-conformance to the stated needs or specifications.

Is Defect Repair a Change Request?

Yes, a Defect Repair could be a CR. But it is not always true. A Defect Repair can be considered as a Change Request only under special circumstances.

You cannot give a faulty system or a defective deliverable or component to the Customer. So, all Defects should be repaired before delivery.

However, Defect Repair may entail some other Changes. The Project Team may require extra Time or Cost or Resources to do the Defect Repair. These may require some Changes to the Project Baselines. Like with any other Change, the Project Team has to analyze the Defect Repair completely. They should document the impact of Defect Repair

The Project Team should analyse the impact of Defect Repair on the other Project parameters. The Project Team should document what and how much would be impacted. Project team should produce a formal CR, if the impact analysis suggests Changes to Project Baselines.

PMBOK® Guide is not a definitive Guide. It presents the possibilities. I have described one such possibility. You should read PMBOK® Guide by correlating the concepts with real life examples.

You may want to read my other articles on Project Change Management.

Good luck to all PMP aspirants.

Praveen Malik, PMP is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) with a rich 20+ years of experience. He is a leading Project Management Instructor and Consultant. He regularly conducts Project Management workshops in India & abroad.

8 thoughts on “Why is Defect Repair Considered as a Change Request?

  1. In my business, it is fairly simple. Defect Repair is a CR because, in first place client nevers accepts a defective equipment. Hence, it means that defect appeared after he accepted it. May be he missed pointing it out but then that not our fault. So I do the defect repair and he gives me an extension of time to do that. If that happens after defect liability period (warranty period in most cases), I do it for free, else customer pays for it too!

  2. If the Defect repair does not affect the baseline, no need to create the CR. Hope I understood correctly.
    If so, then how will the repaired/corrected product/deliverable will be reevaluated in control quality on what document basis? how the work (defect repair) will be tracked.

    • Bhala,

      “If the Defect repair….” Yes, you understood it correctly.

      “… in control quality on what document basis…” Quality Control activities are planned upfront i.e. a schedule is made, resources are allocated etc. So if a defect can be repaired within the original plan, its repair is not considered a change. But if the repair requires extra time/cost/resources then a CR is required for extra time/cost/resources.

      Hope it helps.

      • Praveen,
        Thanks for your reply.
        After repaired, the deliverable should be revalidated in control quality. So here only the Change log which contain corrective action plan is used to inform the team member to correct the defect and the same is used to revalidate the deliverable in control Quality process. The same will be used to record lessons learned also. Am I right?

        • Bhala, You are right. In addition to corrective action plan, there could be documents from dev team to validate the defect repair.

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