Projects = change
In a recent meeting with a senior management team of a global organization, we discussed the viability of launching a software product across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The focus was on how quickly we could roll out the new system. Specifically, we talked about adapting some of the features, functionality and technical requirements to facilitate access for each country.
Despite the fact that the system will precipitate monumental change, it took a while before the group acknowledged this. Those of us in the project management community know that projects create change, and of course megaprojects equal mega change!
Thankfully, I had an ally at the table who could echo and amplify the potential communication and management demands such a project inherently carries. If anything, this rollout would need to be done as a program, with each project addressing the individual needs of each location.
No matter the project, the cost of change includes both apparent and invisible aspects: finances, time, process, individual control, confidence, quality assurance and continuity. While by no means exhaustive, this list encompasses some of the major facets to be actively managed.
Expectation management is core to the success of endeavors involving change. On the rollout project, the process of identifying and involving influential stakeholders in each location will affect how the arrival of the new system is perceived, and ultimately how readily it's accepted and utilized.
A sense of involvement from the various locations will also preempt the hurdle of “not invented here” syndrome (the unwillingness to adopt an idea because it originates from another culture). In a global organization, there will always be projects that are driven by a global objective and do not invite contribution from individuals or specific locations. They are directives that must be embraced, implemented and supported by all.
In this instance, the success of the project is not in its installation; it is rather in the implementation and active use of the deliverable. The luxury of being able to talk with others, to engage their ideas and views, has to be adequately contained, lest we become victims of “paralysis of analysis.” However, to ensure involvement, active engagement and usage, we have the privilege of working directly with this diverse group. While initial discussions are necessarily at a senior management level, those managers are then encouraged to choose representatives from within their teams to contribute and oversee local implementations.
There are clear examples of how system use is anticipated to progress, the boundaries for change are well-defined, and the consequential time and cost impacts of change are documented, communicated and agreed upon before going forward.
As always, in aiming for project success, we begin, continue and end with management of people. PM
Sheilina Somani, PMP, is the owner of the U.K.-based consultancy Positively Project Management, a project manager, a speaker and a mentor.
PM NETWORK APRIL 2012 WWW.PMI.ORG