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Project Managers and Change

Every project launched is a change project. It may be a simple project or a complex, cross-functional project – regardless, it is change.

If project managers take a change view of every project they lead, they will do a better job engaging the stakeholders in the project and reaching a successful conclusion. That is because when a project manager keeps in mind that the project she is leading is change for someone, she can approach the project from the perspective of the individuals and how they will need to change. Let’s look at a brief example.

Carmella is leading an initiative to refine processes within accounts payable. While the goal of the process improvement project is to reduce the time for processing payment through the use of new technology, Carmella is aware of three key factors:

  1. The individuals who utilize the current processes have been doing so for over five years.
  2. Two of the individuals created the original process that is still in use today.
  3. There is likely to be concerns around what skills and knowledge will be required to use the new process and associated technology.

With this information, Carmella meets with the stakeholders impacted by the project. She shares with them the goal of the process improvement project – to reduce time for processing payment through the use of new technology and thereby enabling stakeholders to be more efficient in their roles and reduce their manual workload. She further tells them that training will be provided before full implementation of the technology so that they are comfortable. And, she invites them to see a demo of the technology. Additionally, she schedule another meeting with them to discuss their current processes with a focus on where they think improvements exist.

Carmella is engaging these stakeholders in the project. Regardless of Carmella’s perception of the change, she understanding that the stakeholders need to be comfortable with the change if they are to embrace it. If they are not comfortable, they are likely to resist, which will cause the project to fail. Additionally, concerns among the stakeholders regarding the project and its impact on them personally may impact productivity in the group.

When project managers recognize and accept that every project they undertake represents a change for someone in the organization, they will better be able to engage stakeholders in the project. This is done by acknowledging the (potential) impact and addressing early on in the communications and throughout the project the concerns and needs of stakeholders.

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