As a lifelong consultant, I have had the advantage of working on several of the largest global system implementation and organizational restructuring initiatives in the private sector. One thing that this has taught me, is there is a HUGE element that companies are missing when planning major projects and it always comes back to burn them. Multi-million-dollar initiatives are typically evaluated on two levels first and foremost, Technology and Project Management. The project sponsors will painstakingly plan a detailed timeline, select the leading PMO methodology, spend millions on the latest ERP software and then completely neglect the most important element of any project, the PEOPLE.
The people element of an engagement, formally known as Change Management, is the very lifeblood of a project’s success. Without clear and well communicated project goals, work impacts, training and engagement, a project is destined to FAIL. However, even now, change management is largely thought of as a “nice to have” or “luxury” item that can be sidestepped. How can your organization avoid this fate? Precise Process Consulting has outlined the biggest mistakes made with Change Management and how to avoid them
- Not including Change Management as a Core Project Workstream: Project Standup is the single most important phase of any engagement. It is where the critical project infrastructure is established, and the decisions made here will set the tone for the entire engagement and years to come. Change Management must be considered as a critical element and involved at the very beginning in order to ensure success. The most common mistake companies make here is thinking that change management (or training) can be engaged later and doesn’t need to be involved throughout the engagement. WRONG. There is no way to provide a successful transition without engaging the team who’s job it is to guide the people through the process.
- Limiting Change Management to “Training”: Overall, there is a lack of understanding around what change management is and what it entails. The most common misconception is that change management is just training. While training is an important element of change management, it is far from its only function. Change management is the complete end to end process of guiding people through a major change. That includes everything from setting expectations with leadership regarding what changes to expect, interviewing stakeholders, establishing a clear communication plan and yes training impacted people on the new process or system. Engaging change management early is the missing link in ensuring the technology, process and PMO groups understand the key elements that users need based on how they currently function. It is impossible to effectively train anyone, if the trainers havent been actively involved in the project from the beginning and gaining an in depth understanding on the training content/changes.
- Expecting the Technology/ IT Group to handle it: This is where delineation of duties becomes important. While the IT group may be experts at customizing and setting up the system, they DO NOT provide assistance with training, and requirements gathering. Simply put, you need a separate group to help streamline the business processes and figure out the changes /work impacts. IT may be able to do some really detailed super user walk-throughs but professional who specialize in blending the technical and the business aspects of the project are necessary for overall training, communication and process updates. I’ve seen a lot of clients get burned trying to turn their IT/Tech team into a one-stop-shop for all things technical and change related then become frustrated when the group cannot deliver comprehensively.
Recently, I was afforded the opportunity to have an in depth discussion with a technology firm where we discussed this. The consensus was clear, change management is the missing the piece to the success and failure of a project, and there exist a critical gap in education currently that allows organizations to realize this.