According to PMI PMBOK 4th edition, a project is “a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result”. Essentially, says Barend Cronje, CEO of CoLAB, this means that a project refers to the introduction of a new or changed capability into a working environment for improved benefit. “This means that project management has to introduce change effectively in order to realise the value intended with the successful delivery of projects.”
The old adage “the only constant is change” is a reality in the world of projects, where the result of a project invariably introduces change to an environment where certain capabilities are already operating. Just as human beings become more productive as they mature through life; more mature environments are more productive. When a change is introduced to an environment, how it responds to that disruption determines the speed at which productivity is regained or improved.
When projects introduce change, this impacts on existing capabilities and the adoption of that change by the people who are affected by the results of these capabilities.
Change management is much more than slapping a human intervention on at the end of your project but rather a consistent behaviour change that has to be executed consistently throughout the process of introducing the change. The reality is that the hardest part of a change is when it has gone into production, the project team has moved on and the moment of truth settles into the business that now has to operate the new capability to produce results.
Various audiences are impacted differently at different times during the change process. Audiences can be roughly grouped into the project team (developing the project objective), operational owners (execs representing the need), the operational team (operating the capability) and operational customers (customers of the operational team).
“Different types of impact are experienced for the various cycles, starting before the project is activated and the evaluation of the cost/ benefit, when the need is concerned with an awareness of the initiative and visibility of the value add and surrounding activities, as well as what benefits are going to accrue and by when. During the project development cycle, the needs are more focused on which tasks are required of me, in addition to my existing tasks and the impact on my diary, what the progress is, and expectations of me and my role in the project. For the operational cycle, the needs include fear of the unknown, disruption of the existing, having to be re-skilled and how my career will be affected.”
Cronje maintains that a frequent mistake made by project managers when they dilute or remove the change scope, is that change management is considered to be the strange “soft issues” that only some people understand. “Change management really is just common sense around getting the project result to work operationally by taking people along on the journey.
“There is a clear link between the environment maturity (enablers of processes, governance, technology and, most importantly, willing people) and change effectiveness. Projects are executed in order to introduce change, but change management can die if the environment within which the seed is sown is not mature or fertile enough.”
According to Cronje, a solution like Post Vision Technology’s PPO can effectively assist in drawing all factors together to allow for visible progress and project success.
“One of the founding principles of PPO is that the transparency of the solution leads to greater understanding and accountability as well as improved performance. As a communications platform, it allows for more involvement and engagement throughout the wider organisation – not just the at project manager level – ensuring that change is not forced on individuals, but rather understood and embraced.”