Planning: Where Project and Change Management Converge
Every day we deal with change whether it is taking a new route to the office or a big change such as changing jobs or moving. We all handle change differently depending on how it affects our everyday lives. Some of us view change as uneventful, welcomed or even refreshing. Others may view change as a burden, stressful or even traumatic.
As a project manager I deal with change every day. I manage software upgrades for law firms and whether the firm be large or small it is still considered a very large change. I manage this change from a PM perspective by making sure the project is on time, making sure team members and clients are informed, managing the scope and staying within the budget. These goals and expectations are all managed within the five phases of project management which includes: project initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling.
All of these project management phases then produce change which requires all of us to not only focus on the project scope and goals but it also requires us to focus on managing that change… and I’m not talking about managing a changing scope, schedule or quality. Although all those are very important and necessary within the project lifecycle, there is also the important aspect of managing the human side of change.
Change management brings in the “people” aspect of the project which helps us manage the transition brought on by the change. As you can see, project management and change management are both required in order to bring the change to fruition and completion successfully. Project management focuses on the tasks to obtain project goals whereas change management focuses on the people who are impacted by this change.
You can’t have one without the other; therefore, PM’s should incorporate a change management plan into each phase of the project which focuses on the “soft stuff” such as communication, training and focus groups to name a few. This is not done in the implementation phase but rather started in the initiation phase and continued through each phase so that we engage the users and the stakeholders early on and throughout the project so they can see the benefits of the change.
In order to incorporate tasks for change management, first take a look at the initiation phase and decide what you can do in this phase to involve the users such as:
- Creating activities to solicit user needs
- Creating communications that give high level detail about the project
- Incorporating activities or communications to deliver the status of the project
Then, be sure to continue down this path with each phase and incorporate activities that make each phase shine. For example, before or during the execution phase, create strategies to communicate that user needs were recognized.
You will notice that when users and stakeholders are kept in the loop, they will continue to offer continual support of the project throughout each phase…AND that is the desired outcome. Of course, that is right along with a project that is on time and under budget.