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Simple Change Management

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The often overlooked fact about defining a process is that you don't have to follow the process every time.  That's right, we just went over the basics of defining a process and now I'm telling you it is alright to do things different.  There is a catch:  It is vital that any stakeholders in the change are informed and have agreed to the deviation.


Executive Summary:

I was going to list the basic process at the end, but I don't want to scare anyone off because of a long article.  I'll give the outline first and the meat after.

  1. Fill out a change request
  2. Meet with the stakeholders
  3. Have request signed off or denied

It is actually very simple.


The Meat

What you are trying to avoid is surprises.  Surprises cost time and money.  In production surprises are almost always negative.  By cutting down on surprises you make your workflow more repeatable (more reliable): costs become more reliable, schedules become more reliable, everything runs smoother.  The goal of Change Management is to make sure that when you make a change no one is surprised later.  This is a good place for an example.

Lets say we're working on a pre-rendered cinematic and that we do this often.  Assume that your defined process is to render every character in a separate pass (the major reason being to make color correction easier).  We'll say that one of the scenes has a couple dozen characters that are very similar.  We'll say there are 4 different versions of a character in uniform repeated to make the whole group.  Maybe the person handling the rendering has the idea that rendering all these characters in one pass will save render time since the models won't need to be loaded as often and less individual output files will be made.  This will also make it easier to assemble the scene for composite since there will be dozens less passes to add.

This may be a good idea or may be a bad idea.  For the purposes of this discussion it doesn't matter.  It also doesn't matter who had this idea.  The important thing is that to know if this will work correctly will require input from at least the person rendering, and the compositor.  Most likely a CG Supervisor and maybe a couple other leads will be involved as well.  Maybe the compositor needs the characters separated in that scene since they are near different lights.  Maybe the scene can't be rendered this way because the systems can't handle that many characters at once.  No one person can make the decision safely.

What should happen here is a Change Request.  This is a document that has a description of the suggested change and a list of people who need to sign off on the change.  Whoever had the idea for the change should fill out a Change Request form (it doesn't need to e complicated).  This form is taken to the project manager who will decide who the stakeholders are.  A meeting might be called with the stakeholders.  Don't get scared away by the idea of meetings.  This could be a quick 5 minute meeting, or an email chain; keep it simple.  If the stakeholders agree they sign the Change Request (no pretending you didn't know about the change later).  If the stake holders don't agree the change is denied.  Done.

I'll post a sample Change Request document when I have a chance.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 July 2010 23:46  


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