Change Management and Project Management – Perfect Together!

February 9, 2021 by FlexPro

It’s a new year and many of us have resolved to make changes – it’s what we do when we flip the calendar to January 1st! We vow that we’re going to eat better, get more exercise, take a class, find a new job…the possibilities are as endless as the next 365 days ahead of us. The reality is, even with all of our enthusiasm and good intentions, most resolutions quickly fall by the wayside. Falling back into our comfy old routines is just easier because, c’mon admit it, nobody likes change (even when it’s good for us)!    

Just like in life, in Project Management change isn’t always easy. Within Project Management, Change Management is a necessary discipline that must work within the project to ensure its overall success. These two disciplines are often confused. In a recent blog article written by Tim Creasey, (Change Management and Project Management: A Side-by-Side Comparison (prosci.com) ) Creasey defines “Change Management” as: “applying processes and tools to manage the people side of change from a current state to a new future state such that you achieve the desired results of the change (and expected return on investment). It’s a structured approach to implementing change, going hand and hand with the structured approach we take in managing projects. There are several steps within change management including:

·       Recognizing the need for change

·       Communicating the need

·       Developing a plan

·       Implementing the plan

·       Evaluating the progress

For large complex projects to be successful, the focus should be on both Change Management – the human/people side of the project, as well as Project Management – the technical/task side of the project. For projects of moderate size, Change Management often doesn’t get resourced or focused on. It’s often left up to the Project Manager to make sure there are elements of Change Management incorporated into their project plans. For example, if working on a project to combine two worksites, the tasks might involve combining the IT systems, HR processes, and manufacturing lines, which seems straightforward. However, what could derail a project is the human/people/emotional side of the change. People are afraid they will lose their jobs or have to compete for one seat. Employees are worried they may get a different boss or be required to move locations. All are valid concerns that will likely evoke emotional reactions and those reactions shouldn’t be ignored. Change Management includes steps in the project plan which also incorporates proactive communication with exercises to help anticipate what the resistance may be.

The key and most important step is communication.  Communication that is two-way in a dialogue, not just one-way by telling, will be the most effective.

Does everyone know and understand the reasons for change? Do they know what’s going to happen and their role? Is there a support system in place to answer questions and offer guidance? Remember for every project, there’s the technical side and the people side. Ignoring the people side will likely not produce the desired results on the technical side. These two disciplines must work together and Project Managers need to remember to consider both aspects in the work they do.

There is a quote by Arnold Bennet that says, “Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts”. This really is true and as PMs, we have to remember that in managing projects, we’re also managing people…and people are inherently averse to change!

The FlexPro Group is a project management consulting firm, specializing in the Life Sciences industry since 2008. FlexPro combines industry-certified experts with proven project management processes and subject matter expertise to deliver results on-time and on-budget. Our focus areas include Product Development & Commercialization, Supply Chain Optimization, Integration Management, and Early-Stage Acceleration. Contact FlexPro today to learn more 

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