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From the Desk of the PM: Managing Change

Projects are all about change

Projects are the catalyst of change. Projects are provided funding and resources not so they can simply be delivered on schedule, within budget, and according to scope; but because they help drive the necessary changes, both at an individual and organisational level, that create value for the organisation. PMI report in their recent Whitepaper, that “unless project outputs and deliverables are adopted and utilised by stakeholders to create value, the project has not fully met its business objectives”.

As such, project managers play an instrumental role in helping to facilitate the adoption of project outputs and deliverables, and preparing the organisation for change. They do this by ensuring the critical human, governance, and organisational change management elements that are woven into project management standards are fully integrated and capitalised on during the planning and execution of projects and programs.

The approach to managing change with the end user is critical to project success

“The discipline of change management is a systematic approach for cultivating leadership support and end user acceptance for the attainment of a successful change”, Roger Kastner writes in a post on Organisational Change Management. Change management can be applied to attain adoption of the end product of a project. Rather than divide an initiative between a “project side” and a “change side,” an integrated plan incorporates both project management and change management perspectives into a single, iterative set of activities.

Key benefits of having an integrated approach include:

  • No division between project management and change management which means there is one path for achieving business objectives and organisational value.
  • Because change management activities are seamlessly embedded within the project lifecycle, change management is not seen as a separate or adjunct activity that can easily be defunded or deemphasized.
  • It provides the project team with better insights into understanding organisational impacts and stakeholder concerns, so the team can modify its approach and design decisions and proactively minimize potential resistance.

The journey of change: gaining buy in and cooperation of users

The proper application of project management processes increases the chance of project success. This involves both the hard skills around managing project budgets and timelines, and the softer skills involving people, perceptions and relationships.

By understanding that stakeholders also have dynamic emotional and cognitive needs that go beyond project requirements, project managers can start planning how to achieve the true objectives of the project. This includes the adoption of the project output and the demonstration of new behaviours that will enable stakeholders to create value for the organisation.

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