Ask 100 people to define Change Management, and you'll get 100 different definitions. At the end of the day, the definition is just semantics. What really matters is whether you can implement a Change Management program in a practical way that allows you to support your organization in successfully achieving its goals. Whether you're a Change Manager, a consultant, or the tech. guy who was told to "figure out some Change Management stuff," this blog will help address common issues and topics you're likely to run into along the way.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Change Management in the Project Lifecycle: Pre-project Phase

In my last post, I provided an overview of the eight basic phases that make up the project lifecycle.  Now it's time to dive in and look at how Change Management fits into each of these phases.  Please note that I won't be able to include every single Change activity that could happen in a phase.  That would turn this into a text book rather than a blog post.  I will cover the major activities, though, and if you include them in your plan you will be off to a great start.

Let's get detailed.

Practical Change Management Activities in the Pre-Project Phase

Unfortunately, I often see Change Management - and Change Managers - left out of the Pre-project phase.  Because many people think of Change Management as just communications and training, they assume that they don't need to worry about it until later in the project.  This is a great way to doom the Change program before it even begins.

If you're going to be the Change Manager, now is the time to speak up and jump into the fray.  You need to ensure that the following items are given serious consideration by your organization's leadership...and included in the overall scope of the project:

  • If you're partnering with a consulting firm, at least one consultant should be a Change Manager.
  • Just because they agree to have a Change Management consultant doesn't mean they can remove you from the project.  At least one person from the organization needs to be a full-time Change Manager, as well.
  • Change Management needs its own budget.  Activities involved in communications, training, Super User Networks, etc. can add up.  While there are lots of ways to do it on the cheap, for the most part, you get what you pay for.  If leadership hesitates, show them this fact from IBM's Making Change Work study: "Our study found that project success rates were 23% higher when the amount invested in change was greater than 11% of the project budget."
  • If it's a technology project, training should be included in the technology budget.  Training development uses a lot of server space, and you need to consider if your company has a Learning Management System (LMS) available to host any computer-based training courses.
  • Make sure that the number of Change Management team members is commensurate with the amount of Change Management work.  Very few change programs can be fully executed by one person.
If you're brought onto a project in a later phase and discover that these items weren't taken into consideration, never fear.  There are ways to address this, which I'll cover in a future post.

Let me know: In your experience, is Change Management adequately addressed in the Pre-project phase?

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