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Monday, November 15, 2004

Change and the Project Manager

Every project we work on as Project Managers brings change to the organization. Those individuals or groups that react negatively to change usually do so out of fear. How can we overcome this fear early in the project so it doesn't manifest itself later and throw the project into chaos?

To help in the process of managing change lets look at the "Stages of Negative Reaction to Change". As stated in the book "Project Manager's Portable Handbook - Second Edition" (David I. Cleland and Lewis R. Ireland), the stages of negative reaction to change are:

* Disruption of Work

* Denial of Change

* Realization of Change

* Negotiating Change

* Accepting Change

Basically the authors are telling us that Change needs to be managed, and furthermore managing change is a process. Inflicting change on an organization without realizing the repercussions or backlash can contribute to project failure.

Project Management can provide structure and help articulate the reasons for a change. The processes behind Project Management are there to help move the organization to accept the changes that come about as a result of the project's deliverables.

Keep the following in mind to help manage the change that will occur as a result of your project:

* Use SMART Objectives in your project (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound)

* Create a Risk Management Plan

* Create a Project Schedule that is realistic and agreed upon

* Create an atmosphere of Trust

* Define and Use a Scope Change Process

* Solicit feedback throughout your project from the stakeholders that will be experiencing the brunt of the change

Change will be disruptive and can cause unexpected behavior and results. Understanding the positive and negative results of change prior to its implementation will help you to head off problems early. Be patient with your stakeholders, and if necessary be ready and willing to escalate issues to senior management to get quick resolution and closure. Allowing stakeholders to hold your project hostage because of their biases and fears will only lead to project failure and ill will.

Understand the positive and negative effects of the change you are implementing, develop goals early in the project to mitigate the negative effects of the change, communicate your plan to all stakeholders, and involve your stakeholders in developing and effecting the change.

1 comment:

Navneet said...

Nice site, I'll soon be adding it to my feed reader. We have a tool that addresses PMO's requirements for Project and Process management, called Digité Enterprise, maybe you might want to check it out: