Change management is a project responsibility

Change management is a project responsibility because every project involves some form of change.  I haven’t yet found a project that doesn’t.

Most projects are done to address something, be it a system or process, that isn’t working and needs to be changed. Projects either (a) look at the change from the system or process perspective and forget about the people aspect of it, or (b) they forget about the change aspect altogether and think that by making the change to the system or process and dropping it back into the business that it will work fine.

Here are some reasons why this type of thinking doesn’t work:

1. People are more important than any system

People drive systems, systems don’t drive people.   Yes, systems are needed to support process in an organisation, and this is also to support the people, but without the people there would be no need for either.

What I’m saying here is that any changes to IT systems, for example, need to be created and managed with the people that they are impacting fully involved.  If the people that the systems are impacting are fully engaged in your change process, then you are going to have a much greater chance of delivering your change.  Why?  Because they have traveled the journey with you and influenced the outcome.  Getting buy-in is a very large part of any change.

Do it right and you’ll succeed.  Do it poorly and you will fail.

2. People are more important than process

Processes are created to standardize and help manage the way that people act within a workplace.  Without processes you generally have duplication, inconsistency and waste.  But the key here also, is the people.

The people will perform and work with the processes to undertake their jobs.  Mess with them and not involve them at your own peril.  Where you might have had an efficient team working consistently and delivering output before the change, you might tip that into a complete chaotic mess, if you don’t involve the key business users in your change.

3. Change without people involvement is a waste of time

The people involved in the day to day operations of the business hold the most knowledge about your systems, process and the customers that they serve.  They are usually the people who understand first hand what is and isn’t working.  They are also the best ones to give you insight into why they think changes wont’ work.

Does this mean that you need to stop that change effort, no, but what it does mean is that you can then set about helping them to see the benefits of the change and bring them along for the journey.  Again, the value in this is huge.  If they are along from the start they will feel part of the who decision and outcome.  Rather than ‘having it done to them’ they will work with you to ‘make it work for them’.  Leave them out and uninvolved and you can be sure that if at all possible they won’t embrace the change and you’ve then wasted your time and money all around.

A well managed project will have change management as a work stream.  Whether this is managed by a separate change manager or change analyst, or whether it is undertaken as part of the Project Managers job, it is a very very important aspect of good project management.

If you involve the right people in your project and manage the change well you are sure to deliver a successful project.


Written by Karen Munro