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Want project success? Don’t leave change to chance!

As explained in this blog, the structure of technology projects can be explained using this diagram.

The left-hand side is focused on delivering the solution and the right-hand side is focused on implementing it.

The overlap is the joint project team, with responsibility for ensuring that both things happen.

The left-hand side is the realm of project management and the right, change management.

So, the first thing you need to do if you want your project to be a success is to make sure that you do actually do something about the right-hand side of this diagram and

Don’t leave change to chance

Change management is the line in the consultancy proposal that tends to be the first thing to get deleted and often any change management activity disappears from the joint project plan completely. This is generally down to one or more of the following reasons

  • The cost of change management pushes the project out of the ‘doable’ range into ‘infeasible’.

  • The IT team may think

    • "We don’t need that and if we do, the business teams will cover it".

    • "Any additional cost will be covered by a different, non project budget".

  • The business team may think that

    • "No specific, planned activities will be required to manage change. The team leaders will handle it".

    • "The estimates of time, resource and budget required for change management is pessimistic / over-inflated".

    • "Anything extra that is needed can fit in alongside normal, business as usual activities".

All quite common when people are looking at the project plan and budget.

Sometimes of course, the consultants or software vendor don’t even offer any change management support and may not even mention it.

“This software is so intuitive it practically implements itself!"

Hmmm. Not the case I’m afraid.

All change requires some effort.

It requires people to stop doing one thing and learn a new way.

Sometimes, the delivery team from the left-hand circle make it very clear that it's up to the business teams to ensure Change Management is done. But in reality, business teams often have little idea

  • what really needs to be done, or

  • how to do it, or

  • how that ties in with the delivery side plans.

The result? Change management is easily

  • left undone, or

  • done badly, or

  • done as an afterthought.

And that leads to a different cost being incurred with either

  • The project not delivering benefits, or

  • The cost that should have been planned for is incurred later, when the realisation of what needs to be done hits.

    • The trouble is that by this stage it's much more difficult to find the time and resource to do an effective job, and any action may end up costing more than if it had been planned for up front.

  • The cost comes out in a different way, like

    • diverting unplanned resources to the project without adequate backfill will impact the ability to maintain business as usual performance.

    • people in the business project team have to absorb more work, leading to more stress and pressure on their ability to do either their business or project roles well. This can mean poor quality work in both places and missed deadlines. It also puts these people at risk of burnout. This can lead to time off and more issues and cost to the project as a result.

What’s the answer?

Business and project teams need to take a more holistic view when it comes to project planning and preparation.

Business leaders need to understand change management and be aware of the effort needed. They need to set realistic budgets that ensure the implementation side of the project is properly resourced and is set up for success.

As the IT team or consulting team, it’s in your best interests to make sure this happens. If it doesn’t, the business are likely to struggle and associate their pain with a lack of support from you. It can damage your relationship with the business and affect the willingness to work together on future change projects.

You just can’t leave change to chance

So what do need to do?

Embed change management principles and practices into your organisation and your project methodologies

Find out more about change management in this blog where I explain what it is, the difference it makes and provide a very simple framework to use.

If you’d like to explore this topic with me and how I could help you with your project, please book a free call. The Better Business Change page of my website provides a summary of the solution components I can offer.

And if you’d like to sign up to my monthly email, you can do that here.


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