Change in Project Management Process, Tools for Changing Processes

The change management process is the sequence of steps or activities that a change management team or project leader follow to apply change management to a change in order to drive individual transitions and ensure the project meets its intended outcomes.

Change management is an umbrella term that covers all types of processes implemented to prepare and support organizational change. These range from methodologies applied to resources, business processes, budget allocations and other operational aspects of a project. Change management in the context of project management often refers to a change control process when working on a project. That is, the process of changes in scope to a project are formally introduced and approved as a change management system.

Change management isn’t solely about projects and organizations. You’re preparing, equipping and supporting team members, real people, to adopt change. This drives the organizational success of the project. Yes, while change can happen anywhere and at any time, and people’s responses can vary, change management offers a structured method that can reign in the chaos and control your project. But it takes a strong leader to manage that change

One thing is certain: change is going to happen. It’s an inevitable fact of any team or project and, therefore, an aspect of any project that must be planned for. To best plan and respond to change, first a clear definition of change management must be understood.

Here are the nine elements of a successful change management process:

  1. Readiness Assessments

Assessments are tools used by a change management team or project leader to assess the organization’s readiness to change. Readiness assessments can include organizational assessments, culture and history assessments, employee assessments, sponsor assessments and change assessments. Each tool provides the project team with insights into the challenges and opportunities they may face during the change process. What to assess:

  • Assess the Scope of the Change:
  • How big is this change?
  • How many people are affected?
  • Is it a gradual or radical change?
  1. Communication and Communication Planning

Many managers assume that if they communicate clearly with their employees, their job is done. However, there are many reasons why employees may not hear or understand what their managers are saying the first time around. In fact, you may have heard that messages need to be repeated five to seven times before they are cemented into the minds of employees.

Three Components of Effective Communication

Effective communicators carefully consider three components:

  • The audience
  • What is communicated
  • When it is communicated

For example, the first step in managing change is building awareness around the need for change and creating a desire among employees. Therefore, initial communications are typically designed to create awareness around the business reasons for change and the risk of not changing. Likewise, at each step in the process, communications should be designed to share the right messages at the right time.

Communication planning, therefore, begins with a careful analysis of the audiences, key messages and the timing for those messages. The change management team or project leaders must design a communication plan that addresses the needs of frontline employees, supervisors and executives. Each audience has particular needs for information based on their role in the implementation of the change. 

  1. Sponsor Activities and Sponsor Roadmaps

Business leaders and executives play a critical sponsor role in times of change. The change management team must develop a plan for sponsor activities and help key business leaders carry out these plans. Research shows that sponsorship is the most important success factor.

  1. Change Management Training for Managers

Managers and supervisors play a key role in managing change. Ultimately, the manager has more influence over an employee’s motivation to change than any other person. Unfortunately, managers can be the most difficult group to convince of the need for change and can be a source of resistance. It is vital for the change management team and executive sponsors to gain the support of managers and supervisors. Individual change management activities should be used to help these managers through the change process.

Once managers and supervisors are on board, the change management team must prepare a strategy to equip managers to successfully coach their employees through the change. They will need to provide training and guidance for managers, including how to use individual change management tools with their employees.

  1. Training Development and Delivery

Training is the cornerstone for building knowledge about the change and the required skills to succeed in the future state. Ensuring impacted people receive the training they need at the right time is a primary role of change management. This means training should only be delivered after steps have been taken to ensure impacted employees have the awareness of the need for change and desire to support the change. Change management and project team members will develop training requirements based on the skills, knowledge and behaviors necessary to implement the change. These training requirements will be the starting point for the training group or the project team to develop and deliver training programs.

  1. Resistance Management

Resistance from employees and managers is normal and can be proactively addressed. Persistent resistance, however, can threaten a project. The change management team needs to identify, understand and help leaders manage resistance throughout the organization. Resistance management is the processes and tools used by managers and executives with the support of the change team to manage employee resistance.

  1. Employee Feedback and Corrective Action

Managing change is not a one way street; employee involvement is a necessary and integral part of managing change. Feedback from employees as a change is being implemented is a key element of the change management process. Change managers can analyze feedback and implement corrective action based on this feedback to ensure full adoption of the changes.

  1. Recognizing Success and Reinforcing Change

Early adoption, successes and long-term wins must be recognized and celebrated. Individual and group recognition is a necessary component of change management in order to cement and reinforce the change in the organization. Continued adoption needs to be monitored to ensure employees do not slip back into their old ways of working.

  1. After-Project Review

The final step in the change management process is the after-action review. It is at this point that you can stand back from the entire program, evaluate successes and failures, and identify process changes for the next project. This is part of the ongoing, continuous improvement of change management for your organization and ultimately leads to change competency.

These elements comprise the areas or components of a change management program. Along with the change management process, they create a system for managing change. Good project managers apply these components effectively to ensure project success, avoid the loss of valued employees and minimize the negative impact of the change on productivity and a company’s customers.

Tools for Changing Processes of Project management

Project management is a challenging task with many complex responsibilities. Fortunately, there are many tools available to assist with accomplishing the tasks and executing the responsibilities. Some require a computer with supporting software, while others can be used manually. Project managers should choose a project management tool that best suits their management style. No one tool addresses all project management needs. Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) and Gantt Charts are two of the most commonly used project management tools and are described below. Both of these project management tools can be produced manually or with commercially available project management software.

PERT is a planning and control tool used for defining and controlling the tasks necessary to complete a project. PERT charts and Critical Path Method (CPM) charts are often used interchangeably; the only difference is how task times are computed. Both charts display the total project with all scheduled tasks shown in sequence. The displayed tasks show which ones are in parallel, those tasks that can be performed at the same time. A graphic representation called a “Project Network” or “CPM Diagram” is used to portray graphically the interrelationships of the elements of a project and to show the order in which the activities must be performed.

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