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Project Management + Change Management = 1 not 2!

By 8th January 2019October 17th, 2023No Comments

Understandably, project management and change management get treated as two separate teams during a technology transformation programme. Project management is involved from day one, once a problem that needs solving has been identified. It investigates how the current technology is failing the business, proposes workable replacement options, seeks the most viable solution, and once agreed by the executives, the project management team plans how to deliver the technology transformation.

At this point, actual change becomes a part of the equation. A change team is bought on board to address what change will be taking place, how this will impact the organisation and how this should be managed. From our experience, we find that consideration for how the end-user will be affected by this change, and how they’ll adapt to the new way of working because of the technology, is considered towards the end of the process. And, often once the implementation is taking place or has even been completed.

Then there is the conflict between the two teams as the project management team focuses on project cost, timing and quality and the change management team on people. But if people aren’t using the system, cost, timing, and quality becomes irrelevant as the investment has gone to waste. (CMC Partnership).

Not working together is a critical mistake! Project management and change management should never be treated as two different teams – or even functions – but, as one. After all, they have the same end-goal: to ensure the project achieves the results it intended and that everyone evolves to a new way of working. And, to make that end-goal a reality requires user adoption. That’s why a holistic team strategy is necessary and user adoption must be top of the agenda. Here’s why…

Putting the end-user front of mind achieves better business results

Technology transformation projects involve a massive financial and resource investment, so you need to see a return. This won’t be achieved if users don’t use the technology – at all or properly. User adoption means coaching employees on why changing is happening and training them on how to use the technology. With this approach the investment is safeguarded, efficiencies will be attained, business benefits can be measured and quantified, and stakeholders gain credibility.

One team equals one seamless programme

By having an integrated project and change management team from the off, the end-user will be thought of from day one. What technology will best suit their needs, how the change will impact their working day, and how they will adapt to learning and using the technology will be embedded into the discussions with stakeholders. Making user adoption an agenda item for the programme team and steering group committees keeps the purpose of the technology transformation project – to achieve a new way of working – on point.

Timing is everything

In theory, it’s never too late to implement a user adoption programme. This is what we tell clients when they bring us on board once the technology is live, sitting idle, or being minimally used. And, it’s not too late, but think of the financial and business consequences – no efficiencies and therefore no return on investment. Plus, think how it looks to employees if you say, ‘hey, here’s this new technology and it’s live, use it but we’re not going to show you how’. You’re devaluing the importance of the technology and the end-user will feel like they’re an after-thought; especially if you roll out an adoption programme later. Typically, this scenario happens when change management hasn’t been integrated with the project management team.

The other scenario is when project and change management are one team, the end-user is considered, and a user adoption programme has been entwined into project activity and timelines. A well-timed drumbeat of communications is played so users understand the ‘what’s in it for me?’, they know (well in advance) when they’ll be transferring on to the new technology, and they’ll have a training session lined up to learn how to use the technology. Post training, there’s a digital hub with ‘why’ and ‘how’ content to keep the user engaged; and, follow-up success stories detailing how end users have improved their working day with the technology are communicated. This scenario says, ‘hey, this technology change is really important, to us as a business, and to you as it will make your life better. You were at the centre of our thoughts, you matter to our business’. So, timing really is everything, and it takes project and change management playing together to make this happen.

Project Management and Change Management technically equal two different functions, but when it comes to technology transformation projects and end-user adoption, to obtain the best results the functions should be combined as one team. That’s why we take an Excite, Equip, Embed™ approach to technology adoption.

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