Are you a Project Manager managing change?

Do you see yourself as a ‘Project Manager’ or a ‘Change Manager’ or a ‘Project Manager managing change’?

It is interesting considering the context of these titles.  Project Managers are seen as people who manage projects, whilst Change Managers are seen as people who manage change related to projects, or as the outcome of projects.  But on a number of projects there is only the Project Manager managing change.

But, delivering a project is all about change – changing something from the way it is, to something new… changing something from being fully manual to the delivery of a system that will manage the task for them, for example.  Whatever it is, change is a key part of the delivery.

This ties in with having a strong focus on people management and communication, or facilitation (as a colleague once called it).  These are the key things to ensuring that any project is delivered – On time, On budget, and within Scope!

You might not have the luxury of separate change resources on your project.  It is still very important that you are able to manage these change aspects yourself.

So, what are some suggestions about things you can do to manage the project change:

1. You need buy-in

This buy-in needs to be from all levels of people across the organisation:

Senior management as the sponsor(s) of your project.  They’re the ones that can make things happen for you when they’re stalled; they can go into bat for you when you get a ‘No!’ and it needs to be a ‘Yes’

Other project team members.  These people are key.. they are the ones that will make or break your project.  If they and their team aren’t working 100% on your project, and committed to delivering your outcomes, you’re shot.  They need to feel a part of the change/the project.. have some form of ‘ownership’ of what’s happening.  If they don’t, you won’t get what you want out of them.

Key stakeholders.  These people are your supporters, the ones who will travel the project life cycle journey with you.  They may also be your detractors.  Remember, if you have these people working with you, and not against you, you’ve got a better chance of them becoming your biggest champions.  You want them to be ‘On your side’, not fighting you every step of the way.  Who are your supporters?  Are there people who love the idea of what you are doing, going to achieve, so will sell the benefits of it to anyone and everyone that asks.  Are they part of your team?  They should be.

2. You need a ‘What’s in it for me?’ statement/vision

People will resist  you every step of the way, unless they understand the ‘WIIFM’ (What’s In It For Me).  This might be your Vision statement – something strong that gives everyone the message about what’s in it for them..  Is your project going to save everyone time?  Is it going to make their life easier because they will only have to use one system moving forward instead of four?   Is it going to mean that they can push one button and have all of their project reporting occur just like ‘that’?

Imagine you’re a salesman – What is it that you are selling to your customer (the person or people taking delivery of your project)?

3. Tell anyone who wants to hear about your project, then tell them again, and finally tell them again

You can never tell everyone enough about what it is that you are delivering.  This reinforces the sense of ownership, the message of value in doing what you’re doing in delivering your project.

If your project is a new website for your salesforce, so that it’s easier for them to interact with their customers – make sure that you take the salesforce along your journey with you..  Have an initial meeting with them to gain an understanding of their expectations. What do they think you will be delivering?  This is very important, as they might have a different idea to you about what the project is going to deliver.  It’s very important to be on the same page here.. right from the start.

Deliver updates to people impacted by your project, in the form of email bulletins on the project status.. Build phase complete..  Test system went live today.. etc, etc..  You might also consider having regular fortnightly or weekly teleconferences with them (if they aren’t in the same building).. if they are, then have a quick face to face meeting with them.  It only needs to be 20 minutes long.  But, SHOW them what you’re achieving.. how you’re progressing, what the systems looking like (for example).  They’ll be much happier with the outcome if you have them as your travel companions, than dumping something on them at the end.    Remember those differing expectations – this is the spot that they will come back to bite you if you haven’t gotten everyone on the same page early enough.

Keep re-enforcing what is is that you ARE going to deliver.  This will also help people understand what you AREN’T going to deliver.

Karen