Generally, the by-product of a mandated change is an atmosphere of uncertainty, anxiety and even suspicion. The corporate culture resists being changed and that can both hinder productivity and render those tasked with integration less than effective.
My research and experience is based on what occurred when changes were required to document and integrate a manual which captured procedures and processes in order to perform tasks within a standard set of measurable parameters.
Previously, work was performed by qualified staff, but it lacked the rigour and discipline of standardization. An operational business model was required to meet the expectations of the customer (stakeholder) and to provide staff doing the work with an instructional manual.
Approach and Tools
Based on the PMI project life cycle (what you need to do the work) and the project management process (what you need to do to manage the project) the steps that followed were:
The needs of the organization were determined, a project manager selected, existing systems, processes and historical information were reviewed. Stakeholders were identified, objectives determined, assumptions and constraints documented and a charter and preliminary scope statement developed.
The planning approach was determined. A finalized scope statement created and a team determined. Work and workflow (WBS, activity lists, network diagram, resources) were determined along with time and cost estimates. A schedule and budget developed and quality, standards, roles and responsibilities determined. Communication requirements, risks, procurements, process improvement plans, measurement baselines, approvals gained and a kick-off meeting held.
The team was acquired. Scope completed, information distributed and received, continuous improvement followed, team building and team management recognition done, selection of vendors determined.
Monitoring and Controlling
Measurements against performance baselines and plans conducted. Variances addressed. Scope verified and recommendations for changes applied following change control methods. Risks addressed and issue logs maintained. Each team member’s performance was measured and reported on. Administrative contracts maintained.
Closure procedures developed. Contracts closed. Confirmation that work was done to requirement and formal acceptance of product obtained. Performance reporting completed and archiving done. Lessons learned conducted and documented. Hand-off of product done and resources released.
And most of the time was spent planning.
Implementation Approach, Results Achieved and Lessons Learned
Although a comprehensive, easy to use, approved and accepted instructional manual was the end product – the experience and knowledge obtained through managing the change and integration of the product provided great insight for the project team (and project manager). Below are some of the challenges, lessons learned and resolution strategies that were applied.
Deciding Not to Change is Not an Option
Meet with the Resisters. Understand the ‘Why’ behind these people. Explain the “what’s-in-it-for-me” part. Listen and be supportive. Encourage, communicate frequently, let them vent. Introduce them to a Change Champion (a Power User who is your advocate).
These people understand the benefits and have the attitude of “I’ll make this work for me”. Keep these people close. Reward and recognize them. They’ll become loyal followers.
Management By Walking Around. Talk to those in the trenches, be seen, understand their needs, feel their pain. Once they get to know you, they’ll become more comfortable. You’ll have a chance to stress the goals and the direction of project.
The single, most powerful change management tool! If you feed them, they will come. Conduct lunch and learn sessions. This informal setting offers a great forum to educate the users aside from the regular training sessions.
Keep communication clear and concise. But always communicate. Be honest. Address all issues ASAP – the good, the bad and the ugly. Especially the bad and the ugly! Keep an on-going issue log. Let the clients see the progress, and that you actually care about their issues and are working on a fix for them.
Your Dysfunctional Family
Do you have the right project team in place to deliver the project? Everyone brings something exciting to the party. However do you have the correct combination to successfully implement the project? A square peg in a round hole just causes grief for everyone. Make a change of staff if you need to. Everyone wins then.
How Good Are We?
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Determine your success criteria and aim to meet or exceed it. Track your progress. Celebrate your successes with the team.
Ensure your objective is not to ‘Cut and Run’. After change and integration, remain with the clients at their location, even if it’s just for a few hours. If there are problems or concerns, you are there to provide assistance or refer the problem up the line. Don’t walk out, leaving them resentful, at a loss and with no one to contact. Not only will it impact their daily work but also your reputation.
What does the PMO have to do to be Successful? Setting up for Success!
Make sure the odds are in your favour. Do what you need to and ensure you tip the scale so the odds for success are on your side.
- Listen very carefully to management. You can give them what they ask for, but is it what they really want/need?
- Be an expert - not a know-it-all, but a trained professional. Seek out the training you and the team need to accomplish the project.
- Keep your promises. You committed to a budget, schedule and staff development. Deliver!
- Never compromise your integrity. Ever!
- The greatest motivation act one person can do for another, is to listen. This applies to both your team and your clients.
- If you can laugh together, you can work together. Enjoy your work in project management and the people you work with. It will make life a whole lot simpler and less stressful.
And trust me on the pizza!!
Donna M. Ulrich, PMP has over 25 years of project management (in various capacities within projects) and consultant (owner of Cougar Management Consulting Corporation) experience, with the proven skills to deliver all aspects of projects, including strategic planning, staff management, training/development, process improvement, change management and customer satisfaction within the nuclear, telecommunications, IT, service/utilities, financial and healthcare industry. When not managing projects, Donna enjoys kayaking, reading, movies, theatre and travelling. Her favourite activity though, is being with her daughter Samantha, and Noah – the wonder-dog! Donna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
2008, Donna M. Ulrich, PMP