Editor’s note: Recently we brought you the first 2 parts of our 3-part series on Change Management. Within this series, we dive into three key areas of Change Management: managing change, controlling change, and selling change.
Effectively managing project change cannot be limited to having a change management process defined for your project. A project’s change management process, like a total quality management process, requires the commitment of the entire organization in order for the process to make a difference. Obviously, we as project managers must be the strongest advocates for change management as we are charged with the responsibility to bring a project in on time, within budget, and achieving the project objectives. Change management cannot be a one-person show. Change management advocates are required from both the organizational and technical team members of the project. To obtain advocates we must educate the team on, and sell the benefits of, an effective change management process.
As a project manager, I have found that the incorporation of the change management process into the project charter goes a long way to introducing and gaining acceptance of the process by stakeholders. I actually had a stakeholder for a project research change management before accepting the concept, believing it was some sort of made-up fantasy. The project kick-off meeting, where the approved charter is reviewed with the entire team, presents another opportunity to introduce and educate on the project’s change management process and its benefits. Providing both a textual description and graphical portrayal of the change management process supports team education, provides reference material, and should be incorporated into the project management plan. Using lessons learned from a previous project to develop a case study on change management as an educational tool provides another opportunity to show the positive effect good change management has on a project. Likewise, a case study on the impact of an uncontrolled change on a project can be beneficial.
Project progress meetings provide another opportunity for project managers to recognize that an uncontrolled change may be occurring and present another chance to reinforce change management. When progress seems to be lagging for no apparent reason, this could indicate ‘scope creep’, creating an opportune time to inquire and educate. The project progress meetings enable the lead project manager to re-focus the team on the key project objectives and reflect on how deviation from the overall project plan, due to uncontrolled change, can impact achieving the overall project objectives. Also, using your change management advocates to continue to raise the level of awareness, helps to keep a watchful eye for uncontrolled change.
As stated earlier, change is inevitable. My experience has taught me the project manager’s ability to recognize uncontrolled change, recruit change management advocates, develop an effective change management process, and maintain team awareness of the importance of change management are keys to successfully managing and selling project change management. I am sure there are many other techniques or approaches to engaging the project team and selling change management. I am interested in hearing how others approach change management.
George Galbraith is a Principal Consultant at SDLC Partners, a leading provider of business and technology solutions. Please feel free to contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions on this blog post or to further discuss Project Management.