Tag: Change Management

Projects and Change Management

Projects and Change Management
Projects and Change Management

The decision to implement a new technology solution is a significant one and, in many cases, a project that typically an organization is unlikely to undertake often. It is a project that requires a significant investment of money, time, and effort and so, return on investment (ROI) represents an important set of metrics that an organization should keep at the forefront of their minds. In almost all cases, the primary ROI metric is associated with how we get our people to embrace this change.

This subtle nuance is so frequently missed or undervalued, which is understandable as so much focus is applied to the traditional method of running technology projects; the priority is delivery and subsequently, user adoption does not get the attention it requires.

As project and change managers there should be a consideration to everyone’s uniqueness when delivering a project. When reverting back to previous changes experienced in our professional lives, almost always the same combination of positive and negative questions and remarks are made. Such examples include:

  • “Great! It’s about time we improved that.”
  • “Not for me. The current solution works just fine.”
  • “The last project was a nightmare.”
  • “Wow! This might actually make my life a lot easier.”

It is natural to respond negatively to change.

Embracing change starts at the onset of a project and continues throughout the weeks and months ahead until ‘go-live’ has been reached and beyond.

It is important to start communicating with the user community as soon as possible. This is a vital step- addressing the common complaints raised by users that they were unaware of and/or not consulted about the new product.

Below are some ways to get started on communicating and igniting interest:

  • Announce during any regular “Town Hall” style company-wide meetings
  • Send an email to announce and sell the benefits
  • If appropriate, force-out intranet, screensaver or desktop wallpaper announcements
  • Print free-standing banners and place in communal areas of the office
  • If information screens exist in communal areas, display messages of the new project

The key to these activities is to build interest, not provide copious amounts of information. View this as a method of igniting some excitement so focus on the key selling points of the product.

It is now time to build upon the initial interest that has been generated in the project. Once at a point where the majority of organization is aware of the incoming product; this initial interest needs to be developed. Remain mindful that one of the most common complaints following a project’s implementation is that the end-users have not been consulted or felt involved. If someone feels negatively towards an incoming change, it is often because they feel that change has been forced upon them. Here are some recommended activities to undertake at this stage of the process:

  • Run demonstration Workshops of the product
  • Establish user groups from each business area and run “interview” sessions to develop an understanding of how they work and how the product will need to be optimized for them
  • Set up a small number of work spaces for people to use the product
  • Provide regular project updates – most people don’t want huge amounts of detail; they just want to feel included and updated so share timelines and high-level updates

Training users on the new product is not a new concept but it is vital. The training delivery method is of particular importance and tailoring the training to specific departments is something that is highly recommended. Armed with this knowledge develop tailored training sessions. Training can of course be delivered in many forms:

  • Face to face, classroom sessions
  • Training videos/ eLearning
  • Quick Reference Guides (one-page graphical guides)
  • Remote, web-based training sessions

To reach this point of the project, a significant level of investment and effort will have been expressed by all parties involved. Users have been trained, informed, and updated, but now they need to use the software. The risk here is that if there is one small gap in a user’s knowledge, then that can spark negativity that spreads throughout their user experience and transfer to their colleagues rapidly.

Change- specifically managing and embracing change, is a perpetual concept. Be sure to give people the opportunity of their experience via a survey for example. The good thing about metrics is that they are typically easy to generate and simple to communicate. Consider options such as:

  • Usage stats – share how many people are using the product and when
  • Tangible benefits – where possible, calculate the direct or indirect cost benefits that have been realized vs the cost of the solution
  • Speak to your user community – remember, most products are to benefit the people so be open to their feedback and share it
  • Usage stats – share how many people are using the software and when
  • Tangible benefits – where possible, calculate the direct or indirect cost benefits that have been realized vs the cost of the solution
  • Speak to your user community – remember, most software solutions are to benefit the users so be open to their feedback and share it

Don’t underestimate the value of change management in any project, as people a normally adverse to change, then taking them along on the journey with you is one way to get the majority on side. Let us know your thoughts regarding change and how to handle it with your projects; we would like to hear from you. All the very best on your project management journey.

Change in an Agile Environment

Project Management and change go hand in hand from the planning phase onwards. Shifts in schedules leaving businesses unable to accommodate the changes, and constant uncertainty leaving change practitioners powerless to develop plans and keep stakeholders engaged. With organisational change management seemingly pushed to the margins. As project managers we cannot work in isolation, there must be an understanding on how projects affect change, so working with change managers is almost mandatory, and hence necessary to understand. Hence, Agile Change Management is a set of principles, not a one size fits all approach. The following are some lessons learnt and observations made that will help prepare to better manage change in an agile environment:

•    Change Impacts are still essential; it’s vital for informing people of the landscape, risks, dangers and opportunities. However, don’t be wedded to it. As soon as you start delivering you are going to need to iterate this. There is a gap between the strategy and what the people can do. Known as the ‘execution gap’. To stay relevant your ‘gap analysis’ will need to be done multiple times to ensure you’re all still on track.
•    Trust is key; Trust and transparency go hand in hand. Open doors to stakeholders and instead of concentrating on, training, coms or stakeholder plans, engage them. Give them regular feedback and updates, giving them visibility of the process. Being transparent will ensure that communication lines are kept open which will ensure that mistakes, progress and failures are all identified and shared.
•    ‘Think like a Military Commander’;
you are a pair of eyes focussed on identifying potential risks, threats and danger. You must communicate these to your troops to let them know what could happen, guiding them onto contingent courses. It’s not ‘reworking’ it’s readjusting to where we are now. As a leader you are constantly asking ‘Is this relevant anymore?’ ensuring not to move too quickly because then there is room for error. In this agile landscape this journey isn’t yours it’s everyone’s.
•    Fail fast; ever heard of the age-old phrase; ‘Try to fail, don’t fail to try?’ Well, this is highly applicable in an agile landscape. It’s ok to fail if you are doing something about it. You need to be constantly reassessing and asking ‘what am I doing wrong?’ and ‘what is no longer relevant?’ If you identify risks then confront them early so that you might ‘fail fast’ you will alter the change road map and lead to a smoother engagement, adoption and embedment.
Whether you are currently delivering change on an Agile project, or in a more conventional Waterfall delivery, embracing these 4 Agile change principles can assist you to becoming more customer focused, adaptable, effective and integrated.