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Will Noble

Change meets Project Management

Posted in , , by on August 14, 2014 and has no comments yet

At last week’s Asquarterly event, guests enjoyed a lively debate on the role of change and project management within today’s business, as well as the launch of the Asq Projects infographic in conjunction with Mindset Group.

Steve Pulman, MD of Asq Projects and Michael Wynter, Asq Change Lead and Senior Consultant at Mindset, shared their insights and experience, as well as some key takeaways for business leaders.

What does change mean to a project manager?

“For project managers, change is an important part of the success because we focus on delivering the project on time and within budget. But change managers bring in the people aspect, with communication strategy and planning, resistance planning, workshops and training. We build and implement systems but we don’t use them. Change managers work with those who do.” ~Steve

What does change management bring to a project?

“Well change management certainly isn’t warm and fluffy like most people assume! It’s the opposite in fact. We are challenging and tackling the issues people don’t want to tackle. Whilst training is a part of change management, there’s much more to it than that.” ~Michael

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has been around for decades but the Change Management Institute (CMI) is relatively new. Does this mean managing organisational change is newer?

“Good leaders have recognised the value of change management for a long time. But I think we are seeing and hearing more about change management now as a direct response to the sheer volume of change happening within organisations today. It isn’t just limited to changes in technology, but business-wide transformations that are much more prevalent.” ~Michael

What are the main challenges organisations face managing change?

“For organisations to survive, they have to constantly be looking for improvements and innovation to remain a viable and profitable business – this results in change within the business. People, and organisations are inherently resistant to change so a change management function will help to align the sponsors with the business priorities.” ~Michael

“But projects still fail. 80% of change programmes fail because they fail to engage with all levels of management and staff. Whereas in the past, software was simply delivered and users had to adapt, the parameters of success are now different. If people – end users, internal customers – aren’t engaged, then it hasn’t worked. Now we are beginning to realise that people matter.” ~ Steve

What’s the role of a sponsor in change and project management?

“Sponsor means different things; in project management, there is just one sponsor – the stakeholder who has a vested interest in the project’s success because it’s their job and/or money. But in change management, there are lots of different sponsors.  Anyone who communicates and has positive influence over the end users can be a sponsor.” ~Steve

Is there a preference in methodology when managing projects and change together?

“Not really. The most important thing is the level of cohesion and engagement from senior management.” ~Steve

“Agile project management covers the people side automatically and with Waterfall there’s a big gap between the start and end of a project where change might not be involved at all. The outcome should still be the same.” ~Michael

With so much importance placed on communication, what are some of the best ways to ensure communication and engagement is successful?

“This is different for each company and we definitely don’t recommend companies start introducing new communication channels that aren’t necessary.”

“Face to face is still the most effective form of communication and receiving messages from the highest level of management with the right brand message is the best way to engage staff and contribute to project success.” ~Michael

Any final points?

“It’s important to remember that people want improvement, not necessarily change. Executives need the confidence to drive change, not just through one project but as a company-wide improvement plan.”~Steve

“Cohesion and consistent language are extremely important factors. Demonstrating a unified message from the top, will help everyone to feel part of the change and embrace it, and ultimately that’s what we need for projects to succeed.” ~Michael

Thanks to Steve and Michael, and all attendees for last week’s event and if you missed the infographic, contact us for a copy.

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