Driving a transformation doesn’t stop when you implement the change

From the Shifting Change: Insider Tips from Project Leaders Blog
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Today's world is influenced by change. Project managers and their organizations need to embrace and sometimes drive changes to keep up with the pace in highly competitive environments. In this blog, experienced professionals share their experiences, tips and tools to manage and exploit changes and take advantage of them. The blog is complimentary to the webinar series of the Change Management Community Team and is managed by the same individuals.

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“Just plan the project through go-live!”

I recently had a conversation with a colleague working on a major transformation for a well-known Fortune 50. She told me that she was expressly told to only plan for work up through the launch of the change. This is a big mistake; let me explain.

After I built and moved into my new home years ago, the builder presented me with a certificate explaining that the construction carried with it a five-year guarantee. They would take care of anything that went wrong with the house. Period. In the first few weeks I found a few minor issues. One door wasn’t closing correctly, and the builder promptly came out to repair it. Another time while I was away for the weekend, my son decided to enjoy an afternoon on the back porch and grilled up a juicy T-bone steak. He forgot to move the grill away from the house and voila, we had about 20 square feet of melted siding. My builder replaced the siding at no charge.

When you make an investment in a transformation, it’s likely that you will spend much more than I did building this house. Yet many project managers consider their work done when the transformation is launched. Who is going to be around to make sure the change is institutionalized? How do you ensure that people permanently adopt the change and alter the way they need to work? How will you know that you are receiving the greatest value for your investment? Depending on the nature of the transformation, there are numerous ways you can ensure the systematic adoption of the change.

  1. Change people’s measures to include metrics about the use of new behaviors, processes, or systems.
  2. Put change agents in place at various levels in the organization to answer questions and help resolve issues. Be sure they proactively reach out to their constituents.
  3. Ensure your leaders are asking questions about issues and results long after launch. Be sure they are equipped with resources to address these challenges.

Putting these features in place will help you achieve the value you had planned, and in many cases, will drive even greater value. This greater value results from you paying more attention to the change far beyond that initial launch, and your employees finding ways to implement improvements beyond those originally planned.

Posted by Steve Salisbury on: September 05, 2019 12:30 PM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

While there are exceptions, if, like me, you do not work for a third party software/service provider, your projects should come from the business. There should be a sponsor driving the work that desires ongoing value from the investment in the project. At a former employer, I was assigned to more than one project that didn't have a business sponsor. Implementation and adoption were a challenge when the intended recipients of the deliverables didn't have to use them, and didn't want them.

In my new position, I am socializing the concept of a value realization plan. Development of this plan starts during planning, but it isn't finalized until closer to the end of the project because of the potential for change and learning new things over the course of the project. As part of this plan, someone from the business (sponsor, business process owner???) is identified as responsible for tracking the value realization, over time.

Since very few projects realized their full potential value the day they are launched, you need to identify milestones for when value is expected to be realized, and contingency plans for slippage. We haven't figured out, yet, how long this needs to occur. Maybe until ROI is realized? I don't see it being the same amount of time for each project.

I suppose a project manager could do this, but making PMs responsible for long term business results, instead of having them work on new projects, seems like it changes the definition of what it means to be a project manager.

Simple concise yet thoughtful insights thank you for sharing!

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