Author: Cheryl Francis-Nurse

Change Management; the Missing Link for PM Success

Whenever I make a presentation on project management best practices, I always point out that if project managers are oblivious of the impact of change management variables on their projects, these projects will be challenged or even fail. Here I am not speaking of the management of change requests from project stakeholders that could result in scope creep or project deliverables that bear little resemblance to original project objectives or scope. This conversation often results in an ah’ha moment for many in the target group because it allows us to recognize one of the key reasons why projects fail – our inability to address or lack of acknowledgement of the symptoms of change that permeate our projects. Even if the project team produces the ‘Rolls Royce’ of deliverables, guess what? The project may still fail because of such issues as lack of buy-in or resistance to change. So, should we be considering these management disciplines as two disparate areas? What are the consequences for our projects if we do?

Change management is a systematic approach aimed at facilitating the movement of individuals, groups, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state. Project management involves the planning, scheduling and controlling of project activities to meet project requirements. It is the application of skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet stakeholders’ needs and expectations[1] So should the two be married?

Projects have specific goals and objectives, and therefore must deliver specific results. The implementation of a project management methodology provides some key benefits to any organization. Project management was developed to introduce a structured, consistent approach to managing projects, thus fostering time and cost efficiencies by proactively planning and considering all relevant variables that could impact a successful outcome. Additionally, project management provides coordinated and ‘trackable’ processes to monitor and control performance. Some people limit these variables to the “hard’ factors, such as schedule, budget or scope management, overlooking ‘soft’ variables such as, the impact of an effective change management execution strategy to successful project outcome – this usually to their peril. Success not only depends on the extent to which the project deliverables meet specifications or requirements but also on the willingness of stakeholders or end users to change the status quo. But these objectives cannot be achieved without the project manager recognizing and embracing their role as a transformational leader and change agent.

Whether this is a small ‘c’ or a big ‘c’ change initiative,