Managing Projects & Conducting Change: When Two Worlds Collide – or Not! Part 1.

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“What exactly do change management consultants do, while we’re in project mode and developing solutions?”

Overheard recently from a project manager:

“What exactly do change management consultants do, while we’re in project mode and developing solutions?”

This is generally followed by:

“I know that change management is important, but other than filling out charts and templates, what is it you do, exactly?”

We all know that project managers are focused, first and foremost, on delivering business solutions, i.e. systems, procedures, forms and reports.

They manage budgets, resources and deliverables, but we know that they’re not so preoccupied with deploying solutions that will seamlessly integrate with operations. And generally, they’re even less preoccupied by figuring out how to convince managers and employees to adopt and use those solutions. And in terms of ensuring a solution’s longevity, well, we’ll just let Operations worry about that, right?

Still, you can’t blame them for this. To each his own, as they say, and it’s up to change management consultants to adapt their message to each project manager’s reality and, when productive and necessary, to do a bit of “education” – whether the project managers like it or not.

The following chart may help you appropriately position change management activities in each phase of business solution development.

 

While the Project Manager… …the Change Management Consultant…
…identifies stakeholders who can participate in defining client needs and requirements, and determining the solution …identifies the stakeholders who will directly or indirectly be affected by the change, as well as the influencers who can provide leverage to ensure the solution is accepted and long-lasting
…determines client needs and requirements in order to deliver an effective solution … determines the needs and requirements of people who will actually work with the solution (i.e. existing processes, preoccupations, openness to change, optimal organizational conditions, capacity to absorb change, learning preferences, potential pockets of resistance, etc.)
…develops the solution based on the client’s operational limitations …develops a change management strategy that addresses issues such as communication, training, and manager support and adherence; identifies action items to minimize impacts on individuals and address preoccupations; presents the implementation plan
…does the work required to deliver the solution …develops all the necessary change-management support material, i.e. training, task assistance, FAQs, videos, communiqués, issue-measurement activities, change management dashboard, success criteria measurement, etc.
…delivers and deploys the solution …delivers change management activities designed to support managers and employees, and to promote the solution’s adoption and operational integration
…assesses how the solution is working on a functional level …monitors the change in terms of dashboards, assessing any preoccupations, and additional actions required to promote better integration

The key to a successful project is making sure that project managers and change managers understand the essential role that each of them plays, so they can work hand in hand towards a common goal. It’s not just about delivering the solution: it’s also about making sure that the solution is deployed smoothly and made to last within the organization.

After all, even the best solution in the world will be a monumental failure if no one wants to use it.