Change Boards

A Change Board is an approach to controlling changes to a software product.

It works by bringing together representatives from each concerned party – i.e. development, traders, analysts, architects, user documentation, support and management – and giving them ultimate authority for accepting or rejecting proposed changes.

It produces its rapid-development benefit by raising the visibility of feature creep and reducing the number of uncontrolled changes to the product.

Change Boards can be used in virtually any kind of environment – business, shrink-wrap or systems.


The change board typically consists of representatives from each party that has a stake in the product’s development.

Each party should own the area it has control over. Development should own the development schedule and user documentation should own the user documentation schedule.

Change Analysis

The change board’s function is to analyze each proposed change.

The change should be analyzed from each corner of the classic trade-off triangle:

  • How will the change affect the product’s schedule, cost and features?
  • It should also be analyzed from the point of view of each organization unit affected: How will it affect development, documentation, support, quality assurance and marketing? If the feature request is not worth the time it takes to analyze it, then its not worth the time it takes to implement it, and the change board should reject the proposed change out of hand.

Change-Analysis Suggestions to Change Boards

  • Triage
    A term from emergency medicine that refers to the activity of sorting people into groups so that the people who will most benefit from medical treatment, gets it first. In addition to analyzing each change, the change board has to accept or reject one.


  • Potential reduction from nominal schedule: Fair
  • Improvement in progress visibility:  Fair
  • Effect on schedule risk:  Decreased Risk
  • Chance of first-time success:  Very Good
  • Chance of long-term success:  Excellent

Major Risks

  • Approving too few or too many changes

Major Interaction and Trade-Offs

  • Can be combined freely with other practices

An effective change board guarantees that we will understand the consequence of each change before we make it. As with many other aspects of speed oriented development practices, a change board is valuable because it will help us make decisions with our eyes fully open to the development speed consequences.