There is a story told of a doctor who has just completed a surgical procedure. "The operation was a success" he says "but unfortunately we lost the patient".

There are too many similar stories in the world of project management. The project delivers what it was supposed to 'technically', yet the end product is considered a failure: It does not gain acceptance from key stakeholders and in worst case scenarios is completely abandoned. In many such cases, the cause of the failure is poor change management.  Unfortunately, many leading Project Management Methods still give little or no attention to this increasingly important aspect of project management.

What is Change Management?

While the discipline of change management is a crucial issue and the subject of many learned tomes, we are concerned with the issue of change management as it applies to IM&T projects - particularly those of a substantial nature. Change Management is the collection of disciplines and tasks which are necessary to help the people in an organisation successfully cope with bringing about the 'new order'.

As with many other project management principles, the underlying concept of change management is simple: ensure that every stakeholder is fully prepared for the way in which the project outcomes will affect them. In some ways 'Change Management' is a bit of a misnomer.  Our real goal is to manage organisational 'readiness' in all its various forms.

"So, change management is all about effective communication and training right?"

Well, sort of.. The specific activities to be undertaken depend on many variables, such as the type of project, the degree of change, the business of the organisation and the experience of stakeholders to name a few. Assuming the project will be bringing on reasonable change, you could expect the change management activities to include the following:
  • Gaining meaningful support of key executives
  • Gauging potential impacts and corporate readiness
  • Identification of stakeholders
  • Developing / implementing strategies, plans and schedules for training and communication
  • Creating support services
  • Assisting with implementation plans
  • Developing / implementing new business processes, work-flows, structures and job descriptions
Some of these issues seem painfully obvious, yet it is surprising how often they are ignored, forgotten or put off until later.  Many organisations have business units which have the skills to undertake one or more of the activities, but they are not always consulted in time, or given the guidance needed.

Read more

Photo used under Creative Commons from LuMaxArt