Change management is a significant part of project management. Projects exist to bring about change, and project management exists to ensure that change is successful in terms of implementation. Unfortunately, change management requirements vary greatly based on the end users of a project and organizational and personal opinions regarding change. In order to plan for success, project managers must consider the change management process – and to do so they must Know Their Audience.
Depending on the defined success metrics, it may be the direct responsibility of the project manager to ensure that end users are knowledgeable and/or accepting of any changes brought about by the project. If not, this responsibility will fall to other individuals and should be included as part of the project transition plan. In either case, the project manager should consider the end users and the change management process. Change management considerations will naturally be required during execution, but should also be considered during the planning phase.
In order to establish a baseline upon which to build a change management strategy, answer the following questions:
- Does the organization/department/team experience change on a frequent basis? How many times per year? What form does this take?
- Does the organization have an established change management plan or does it differ based on the project?
- Are the end users who are affected by the project change a small percentage of people or the entire organization?
Answers to these questions will determine the required change management effort. Organizations who embrace the idea of frequent change and innovation will have end users who show little resistance to changes. These users will require education, training, and possibly project rationale, but little else. Organizations who are required to change frequently but would prefer stability will present a strong challenge. In this situation, change management must also focus on a campaign of ideas to change the minds of those effected.
“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” – Jack Dixon
Depending on end user numbers, the project manager and team may wish to consider individual change preferences. When their are few end users, personality assessments may be used to determine each individual team members attitude towards change – both in general and towards the project specifically. Communication with the end users should also be used to the extent possible, either as an initial or a secondary data element. The project manager may use this information to cater the change management plans towards individuals, departments, and any other subset of end users.
Once you have defined the change management requirements, then you may begin planning for success!