Assimilating Change Management and Project Management

Resistance is futile…

(A tribute to the “Trekkies” out there)
When the Enterprise first engages the Borg, Locutus says: “Resistance – is futile. Your life, as it has been, is over… Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own.”
Captain Picard’s response? “I will resist you with my last ounce of strength.”

Every organization has its own biological and technological distinctiveness. When we are invited to make changes to this distinctiveness, be sure, we will encounter varying degrees of resistance. It is therefore absolutely essential that we meticulously plan and execute both the project and the people aspects of any systems implementation.

We could engage potential system users with an aggressive “Resistance is futile – you will be assimilated”, but in my experience, the human is an obstinate species and our aggression will be met with a resounding “I will resist you with my last ounce of strength.” In my experience; we are doomed to lose that battle. There is a better way.

Complementary Disciplines…

Project Management is focused on the Technical aspects of systems implementation, while Change Management is focused on the People aspects. Project Management seeks to design, develop and deliver technology. Change Management seeks to engage users to help them adopt and use this technology to the benefit of their clients, their organization, their team and themselves. Success can only be achieved when we give enough attention to both.

According to Prosci.com; “they each provide focus, processes and tools for moving through the transition toward the future state”. They go on to say: “The Unified Value Proposition of applying both Project Management and Change Management is actually quite simple: delivering intended improvement through successfully implemented change programs.”

In a recent article entitled “Change Management and Project Management: A Side-by-side Comparison” Tim Creasey – Chief Innovation Officer at Prosci – states: “Each discipline brings the critical structure needed for effectively implementing change and achieving the results you want. Yet, Change Management and Project Management must work together to achieve successful change. Doing so creates a unified value proposition, which sets the foundation for tactical integration and delivers value across all aspects of the project, including both the people side and technical side.”

The bottom line is that there is immense benefit in assimilating these two disciplines. However; this is much easier said than done. You will have to plan your approach carefully and with some degree of agility, knowing that each project will present unique challenges and rewards. Learn to adjust your course on the fly, without losing focus of the milestones and the desired outcomes.

Assimilation…

According to merriam-webster.com/dictionary: ”Assimilation refers to the process through which individuals and groups of differing heritages acquire the basic habits, attitudes, and mode of life of an embracing culture.”

Project Management is already a universally accepted discipline for introducing new systems in an organization. Change Management – not so much!
Traditional Project Management approaches often do not account for essential elements like effective communication, sponsorship, coaching, training and resistance management.
It is only when we successfully integrate Change Management disciplines into our Project Management activities that we help the people in the organization to ”understand, internalize and support a change throughout the project’s lifecycle”.

“Research shows that the earlier Change Management is started on a project or initiative, the more likely the project is to meet or exceed objectives.” “… when Change Management is started at the beginning of a project, the activities can be fully integrated.”

The calamitous reality is that Change Management is too often slapped on in an attempt to cauterise the wounds on an already injured and dying project. These wounds are most often inflicted by employees, supervisors and managers resisting the changes imposed on them. The wounds could be in the form of a decline in productivity, point-blank resistance to change, and even a possible loss of valued employees. So; when we stand at ceremony to lay to rest our beloved systems implementation, we cannot help but think that this death was so unnecessary. We could so easily have prevented this tragedy – if only we had acted early.

Having said that – with all the prior hyperbole added merely for emphasis – it is important to add that Change Management can add value even at a late stage in the project. Obviously, the earlier you start with Change Management, the greater the chances of success.

 

My Advice…

Develop an assimilated strategy where both Project Management and Change Management strategies can be managed in the optimal sequence, to ensure that the users, their teams, the organization and its executives, and customers can derive maximum benefit in as short a time as possible. You would need a good understanding of the Project Management processes and the Change Management process. Then begin to merge the stages and steps to create a hybrid process that works for your team and your customers. Good luck.

It might not be an easy or enviable task, but it will not do itself. To quote the great body-builder, Ronnie Coleman, just before attempting to lift 800 pounds with his legs: “Ain’t Nothing To It, But To Do It”.

You might instinctively resist the call to exert all this effort, but might I remind you that “Resistance is futile!”

Mark James

Mark has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer for many years and has been training Dynamics since CRM version 4.0.

He specialises in Dynamics 365 end-user training and has trained across the UK, Africa, and the Middle East. Mark is proficient in Microsoft Dynamics 365: Sales, Service, Deployment, and Customization & Configuration.

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