Why Do Project Managers Need To Think Proactively About Organizational Change Management?

We all know one of the main reasons why companies conduct projects is to produce an end product or result that brings added value to current operations, such as: automating a process, optimizing the workspace or installing new equipment just to name a few. However, in order for a project deliverable to prove its value and investment, true change to the existing status quo must take place. This change can take different shapes and colors; but in the end, it is about the people involved in the process. It is crucial to ensure that customers who were initially identified take full advantage of the project’s end result.

Unfortunately, this kind of change, also known as organizational change, is often overlooked not just by project sponsors; but also by project managers who consider that once their project has been delivered on time, within budget, and according to specifications their job is over. The reality is that if project managers, who are the most knowledgeable about the project’s end result, were to proactively identify gaps in an organizational change management strategy and its respective implementation plan and present it to their sponsor for review and approval, they would be hitting right on the missing target independently of whether or not they would be the ones to implement the plan.

To create an organizational change management strategy and implementation plan or to help identify gaps on existing ones, a project manager can follow the PROSCI® 3 Phase Change Management Process™:

1) Prepare for Change: Identify any and all personnel who might be impacted by the project’s end result. Assess the level and type of impact and group accordingly. Determine a strategy on how to prepare each group for the required change which includes goals and measurable objectives.

2) Manage the Change: Create and implement a plan outlining the different activities required in order to achieve the buy-in from each group, such as: effective communications, training sessions, personal counseling, etc.

3) Reinforce the Change: Gather and document data as the implementation unfolds, such as: surveys, whiteboard messages, feedback boxes, candid input heard on the hallways, etc. Analyze the information to determine trends and further actions. Spot those early adopters who can help by championing the change.

By taking a proactive approach to identify a structured and systematic way to ensure customer adoption and value realization of a project’s end result, project managers can prove their full commitment not only to the ultimate success of their project but to their organization’s bottom line.