Change Management Elements

The 3 Elements of Change Management

About Change Management
I’ve read books and articles over the years to try and help me improve my management techniques around all aspects of project work, especially Change Management. There are some very good articles on Change Management around from some very experienced Project Managers. There are also some very good industry standard methodologies which will attempt to guide you through the ins and outs of Change Management, amongst other things, and they are also very good.

Will any of these articles, books or training courses remove the challenges of Change Management – I don’t think so. Remember this always “Projects are about People” and then you’ll always be sure to blame the right aspect of project management on it’s core failing – it’s always the people that catch you out.

Lets briefly look at the three core elements of Change management then, that make this a special sort of headache for all project managers. In doing so lets first distinguish between change brought on by the nature of the project and change within the project. We’re interested here in Change within the Project – which is Project Change Management. More about the reasons we make change and use project management to deliver that change in another article.

The 3 Elements of Change Management:

1. Causes and Drivers of Change
2. Impact of change and getting agreement
3. Implementing change in the project (or program)

Well that wasn’t too painful was it? If only life was this simple. If you take these basic elements and build a simple process around them you’ll get a reasonably workable process flow which identifies basic causes of change, such as;

Change Management of Planned Changes – for example;

agreed upgrade in a solution as part of a strategic program who’s conclusion was announced after the project started.
value engineering where the project has an opportunity to embrace a new approach to the advantage of the whole project, to reduce costs etc..
unplanned business growth requiring an expansion (or contraction) of the final solution.

Change Management of Unsolicited or Unplanned Changes;

Client decides part way through delivering a project that they don’t have enough meeting rooms and require a re-design of floor space to accommodate more.

Increase in scope of the conference facilities after they have been built, to include new/additional technologies.

change in senior management who decides he wants the floor plan changed to meet his “new needs”

– my favorite – a complete re-stack (re-shuffle of trading teams) of a trading floor because the wall of screens from one team block the main view out of the building, a week before go-live.

Change Management of Emergency Changes;

Fixes to critical components as a result of damage caused through some uncontrolled event – accidental flooding or collapse of some critical infrastructure.

Changes to critical components brought on by poor planning and failure to predict accurate requirements. You got caught out! – yes it happens.

Impact of dwindling resources (budget) forcing the need to adjust the solution quality or schedule etc.

There are other elements to Change Management – at a higher level it’s the communications before, during and after projects. Within the project it’s about managing expectations and being able to predict or foresee the impact of a required outcome, and “coax” your customer along the right path to retain their support and the momentum in delivery.

Change Management is an essential Control component of any project. You will need the following ingredients in place to make change work;

1. An agreed and signed-off scope of work clearly defining the deliverables and constraints
2. An agreed (and proven) change process which will take a change input (request) and provide:

Complete description of the change
What’s driving the change
Impact on schedule, cost and quality (final deliverables)
Who raised the change request
Who approved it
When it will happen
Who will action it
If change is denied, then a sign-off to that intent.

3. A communications forum where Changes are regularly reviewed and all impacted parties are present for comment.

4. An appointed Project Board or Steering Committee where there is the authority to approve changes that impact the project beyond the authority of the project manager or project team to decide on.

Remember – Change Management is all about people. You need to identify the change and it’s impact and then get the right people to agree to approve or decline the change request based on facts and credible experience (sometimes).

This sounds easy but on small projects people can get very protective of their “perceived control” or authority and the project manager may become hamstrung to make basic decisions or to manage the sometimes unreasonable requests for changes from customers staff. On large projects Change Management can and often does become a full time job with a dedicated team doing nothing else but review Change Requests and facilitate the right communications forums and approval meetings.

Basic Change Management Process flow
Process ->
Recognize Change request ->
Document it ->
Review it ->
Analyze Impact ->
Present to Change board->

If approved, re-plan program to include.

If denied, close it and get on with life.

Of course, this is just one view of Change Management based on 30 years of delivery experience. Each Project Manager will have there own view but I doubt that any experienced Project Manager will argue with the above but would embellish it with there own invaluable experience to put more “meat on the bone”.

If you would like to read more on Project Management and some of the Challenges Project Managers face, please go to IT Project Management Singapore [http://www.itprojectmanagementsingapore.com/] for more great information. Here you will also find links to key resources and organisations that can provide first class Project Management services to any business, small or large, local or international. We have a range of professional services partners that have a great track record of services delivery across Asia.