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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Change Management in the Project Lifecycle: Design Phase

The Design Phase is where things really start to get fun.  As the functional teams work with end users to determine how to translate the requirements gathered during the Analyze Phase into useable system functionality, it's time for the Change Management team to ramp up.  If you've been a team of one up until now, Design Phase is an excellent time to bring on another team member.

Practical Design Phase Activities

Once again, the activities in this phase can be broken down by which team you partner with.  This time around, we'll add another team: Human Resources.

Activities Conducted by Change Management
Executive Change Readiness Assessment (ECRA):  The ECRA is designed for top-level Executives.  This will typically include your Sponsors, the Directors and/or Vice Presidents of impacted business units, and, depending on the organization, C-level Executives.  The focus of this assessment isn't whether the Executives are ready to change, but whether they are ready to direct and support the change.  You should plan on conducting this assessment multiple times throughout the project, depending on the project's length.  Use the first assessment during the Design Phase as a baseline against which to measure future iterations.

Change Readiness Assessment (CRA):  The CRA is designed for the future system end users.  Unlike the ECRA, the CRA does focus on whether end users are ready to adopt the change.  The assessment asks end users whether they feel they are receiving enough communications, adequate training, and sufficient management support.  Once again, plan on conducting the assessment multiple times during the project.  And remember that this first one is a baseline...your results will not be good, and that is to be expected.  You haven't rolled out any training, yet.  How can they give it high marks?

Super User/Change Agent Network:  There are many different names for this type of network, and many different uses.  Essentially, it is a group of future end users who are not full-time members of the project, but who are asked to participate in project activities.  Their role may be to act as Super Users who know the system better than your average end user and are expected to eventually serve as trainers and front-line support.  They may simply be Change Agents who are asked to vocally support the change among their peers and help others embrace the new way of doing things.  Or they may be some combination of the two.  Whatever their role, they are an integral part of helping the change be adopted throughout the organization, and should be selected with care.  Once you've created the network, manage them with care, show them lots of love, and you will see great returns on your investment.

Communications:  There still isn't a lot to communicate to the general end user population at this point, but you should be actively communicating with your Change Agent Network and Sponsors.

Training: The functional teams will likely be holding a large number of design workshops during this phase.  If at all possible, you should have your training developers attend as many of these workshops as possible.  This will help them develop a solid understanding of the system design that will help them build the training in future phases.

Partnering with the Functional Teams: If you have more than one person on the Change Management team, I recommend assigning each person to one or more functional teams.  This does two things.  First, this provides one point of contact for each functional team.  This way, they don't need to try to guess who on the Change team to contact when they have questions.  It also reduces the number of e-mails and phone calls the Change lead has to deal with each day.  Second, it helps ensure at least one person on the Change team will have a deep understanding of each functional area, which will come in very handy for developing communications and training.

Design Feedback Workshops: If the functional teams haven't planned these on their own, recommend they be added to the plan.  If they have planned these, volunteer to help.  Design Feedback Workshops are conducted with the end users who provided input into the system design.  Once the functional teams have incorporated these design suggestions into the system, hold a workshop where you show the completed design to the end users.  This gives them an opportunity to tell the team if the design meets their expectations.  You may also find that once they see the design, it helps them better understand the system and helps them identify new or better refined design points.


Partnering with Project Management
Phase Kick-off/Lessons Learned: In the Analyze Phase, I talked about the need for a project kick-off.  As the project continues, it's important to conduct phase kick-offs, as well.  These help ensure that everyone on the project team understands the timeline, objectives, and activities for the upcoming phase.  The kick-off is also a good time to conduct a lessons learned session.  For more details on connecting an effective lessons learned session, read this earlier post.

Sponsorship:  How involved Project Management wants to be in Sponsorship is something you'll need to work out on each project.  I have typically found, however, that working with the Sponsors tends to be a joint effort.  If your Sponsors haven't been overly involved up to this point, now is the time to help them become active.  Work with the Sponsors to determine how much direction they want/need, their expectations of their role as a Sponsor, and the project's expectations of their role.  It is important for them to understand that their commitment to providing active, visible sponsorship directly impacts the success of the project.

Partnering with Human Resources: Throughout the project, there will be activities that are best completed in partnership with Human Resources (HR).  These are activities that impact people's job descriptions, compensation, or team structures.  If you are ever in doubt, it's a wise idea to find out who is the project's HR representative and have a quick chat with them.

Rewards and Recognition:  If there are people on the project team who are not consultants, chances are that being on the project is requiring them to learn new skills, work longer hours, and take on additional responsibilities.  These are things that should be recognized and rewarded.  Work with HR to determine how the project team can do this within the appropriate guidelines of the organization.  I've seen programs as simple as a Thank You Box, and as complex as a new bonus structure.  Whichever path you take, make sure that you are rewarding behaviors you want to perpetuate, and providing rewards that are meaningful to the recipients and in-line with company policy.


The Design Phase is a busy one, but it's also very satisfying.  Don't forget to evaluate how successful the Change program is in achieving its goals, and don't be afraid to tweak the plan as you go to improve your results.

Let me know:  How many people have you typically had on the Change Management team during the Design Phase?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Change Management in the Project Lifecycle: Analyze Phase

You've made your plan, now it's time to put it in motion.  During this phase, your activities will fall into three different categories:
  1. Activities you do purely as a Change Management team
  2. Activities you do in partnership with the Project Management team
  3. Activities you do in partnership with the Functional teams
There may be some debate about which team actually owns each of these activities.  If so, I suggest you hash it out and develop a RACI.  This is a chart that clearly identifies for each activity who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.  It will save you a lot of headache throughout the project.


Practical Activities in the Analyze Phase
  • Change Management Activities: The Change Management Activities you complete in this phase set the stage for future phases.
    • Project Branding - Branding your project makes it instantly recognizable to people in your organization.  This can include a catchy project name, logo, and tag line.  I've even been on projects that have colors, mascots, and songs.  Be as creative as you want...just make sure it fits with your company's culture.
    • Communications Analysis - The Communications Analysis looks at what messages you need to send, who should send them, who should receive them, and what vehicles are currently available.  It also takes into account message timing, frequency, and high-level content.  Once you have this information, you can determine where there are gaps and work to fill them.
    • Initial Training Analysis  - Training typically runs half a phase behind the project, which means that you won't begin your initial training analysis until the Analyze Phase is half-way over.  At this point you are simply determining basic facts, such as the number of people to be trained, their geographic location, and a rough feel for the amount and type of training that will be needed.
  • Partner with Project Management: These activities address the internal workings of the project team. I have seen them completed by the Project Management team on some projects and by the Change Management team on others.  I have found, however, that you get the best results when the two teams collaborate.
    • Project Governance and Escalation - Who has the right to make project decisions?  Who will weigh in on these decisions?  If the people assigned to make the decision are unwilling or unable to decide, to whom is the decision escalated?  Who is able to remove roadblocks and help the team overcome obstacles?  These are the types of questions that are answered as part of developing the Project Governance and Escalation plan.
    • Project Standards - Most projects are made up of people from different departments, experience levels, backgrounds, and even companies.  To ensure that they project a united and professional image to the organization, you should set project standards.  These can include PowerPoint and Word templates, guidelines on how to run meetings, and processes for getting external communications approved.
    • Project Kick-off - It is never safe to assume that everyone on the project is on the same page.  Use the project kick-off to acquaint everyone with the project's goals, team structure, timeline, near-term activities, and anything else for which you want them to have a shared understanding.
  • Partner with the Functional Teams: The functional teams are the "business" teams.  They are the ones gathering business requirements, developing business processes, and generally working to ensure the new product meets the business' needs.  
    • Requirements Gathering - Gathering business requirements often involves creating presentations and conducting workshops.  The functional teams are often happy to have the Change team lend a hand polishing presentations and facilitating workshops.  Facilitating the workshops, especially, frees up the functional team's resources to focus on what the end users are trying to explain about their business needs.
    • External Communications - Working in partnership with the functional teams when they need to send communications outside of the project team helps to ensure consistent messages are being sent to the organization.  It also allows the Change team to understand which audiences have received which messages, reducing the likelihood of redundant communications.
Let me know: How have you effectively collaborated with the other project teams during the Analyze Phase?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Change Management in the Project Lifecycle: Plan Phase

On to the Plan Phase.  This phase can be slightly frustrating for Change Managers, because so many of the activities we do are dependent on the activities conducted by the other project teams.  It's very difficult to plan when you'll conduct training if you don't know when the system will be built and stable.  Because of this, I typically recommend that Change Managers add their team's activities to the plan after the technical and functional teams.

There's also an ongoing debate as to how much of the Change Management plan should be included in the overall work plan.  I've met a number of Project Managers who don't want to see every single planned communication cluttering up their work plan.  

Here's my recommendation.  It's good to have as much of the Change plan in the overall project plan as possible, so that the integration between the teams is clearly visible.  The functional and technical teams should understand how changes and delays in their activities impact Change Management activities.  If that's not possible, however, the project work plan should at a minimum include Change Management milestones and the activities that are most impacted by other teams, such as training development.

If the Project Manager doesn't want any Change activities in the overall project work plan, you have bigger problems on your hands, and I suggest you set up a meeting immediately to discuss.

But enough of the introduction.  It's time to discuss:

Practical Steps to Develop a Change Management Plan

Training:  Training is perhaps the most critical Change activity to plan well.  You may not know exactly how many training courses you're going to develop or how many people you're going to train, but here are a few guidelines to get you started.  (A quick disclaimer that will apply to the rest of the post: Work plans are living documents.  You will constantly need to go back to update and refine your plan as you get new information. )
  • Build some time for training into the Analyze, Design, and Build phases.  Training developers who spend some time in business requirement meetings, system demonstrations, and testing will be better prepared to develop training...and will reduce the amount of time required from Business Analysts.
  • The industry standard for the time required to develop training is this: It takes 40 hours of development time to create 1 hour of classroom training.  It takes 200 hours of development time to create 1 hour of fully interactive computer-based training.  Everything else falls somewhere in between.
  • The level of expertise of the people developing training impacts the amount of time they require for development.  Take this into consideration.
  • During training development, Business Analysts should expect to devote 10% of their time to working with the training team.  This is extremely important and often overlooked.
  • For training delivery, assume that for the first time someone delivers a course, they will need 1 hour of preparation time for every 1 hour of training they are delivering.
  • During training delivery, the technical team needs to devote a portion of their time to addressing technical issues and performing activities such as training instance refreshes.
  • Training doesn't end at Go-live.  There will be people who need to be trained in the 1 - 4 weeks after the system is implemented.  Plan to have one or two team members stay around to deliver this training.
Communications:  Although you might not know exactly what communications you need to send each week throughout the project, assume that you will be busiest starting about a month before training delivery and lasting until about a week after Go-live.  Also consider how many people will be impacted by the project and how geographically diverse they are.  Finally, talk to your leadership about their expectations for communications.  I had one client who wanted marching bands and giveaways.  I had another client who thought it was excessive when I wanted to send out training reminders.

Change Management:  Change Management is more than just training and communications.  As appropriate for your project, build into your plan activities such as Super User Networks, Executive Sponsorship activities, Stakeholder Management tasks, Change Readiness Assessments, and Change Impact Assessments.

Project Management:  Now is the time to have a frank conversation with the Project Manager about where you want to draw the line (or not) between Change Management and Project Management activities.  This is an ongoing debate that I won't address here.  Suffice it to say that you should determine what will work for your project and plan accordingly.  Discuss who will conduct activities such as project and phase kick-offs, lessons learned sessions, and presentation development and delivery for Sponsors.  These activities take a lot of time, and it's important to know who will be responsible for them.

Administrative Tasks:  Finally, if you've planned all of these activities and they will require every second of every day for every Change Management team member, you need to stop and re-evaluate.  First, remember that everyone needs a bathroom break at some point.  Second, keep in mind that unexpected activities will arise and you need the flexibility to absorb those that fall to Change Management.  Third, you need to build in time for administrative tasks.  They may not be high on your list of fun things to do, but you still need to take the time to update your work plan, review and approve work done by other people, and attend meetings.  If you forget to plan in time for these activities, you will quickly find yourself falling behind or working a lot of overtime.  I've heard people say that a good rule of thumb is to expect administrative tasks to consume 10% of your work hours.  Unfortunately, I find it tends to be more.

Contingency:  Most projects build some amount of contingency into their work plans.  It never hurts to build a little into your team's plan, as well.

A final note:  One of my favorite phrases comes from the world of SCUBA...Plan your dive.  Dive your plan.  Finding the right balance between this philosophy and being flexible enough to roll with the punches that are part of any project is the true test of anyone responsible for managing part of a project plan.

Let me know:  How much time do you devote to administrative tasks each week?