Change Management for Project Teams Starts from the Inside

Posted by Paula Alsher & Amy Madson on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 @ 10:51 AM

Here’s the reality: Many project teams are focused solely on time and budget and the technical project milestones. All good, but that just will get the team to “installation!” The team is off and running, but if the end-goal is, as it should be, business realization (also known as value realization, ROI, or benefit realization) the project is sure to fall short in the end in achieving sustained change and long-term business results. Project Teams

Here’s another reality: Everyone on the team may not have made the leap to either wanting or knowing how to plan and execute a project aligned to achieving and accelerating business objectives and human objectives. Until the team is completely aligned internally and in the position to focus their efforts to that end, you can’t expect them to effectively achieve business realization at the back end.

In fact, business change efforts often have to begin with the project team and project Sponsors. We talk a lot about the value of the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM) as an operating framework for Change Agents and Sponsors. But the first order of business must be to get the project team itself along with key Sponsors and leaders to have a changed, aligned mindset on what success means (benefit realization, not technical installation) {Tweet This}. So the starting point is to use the methodology within the PMO and project team internally before you can hope to have the team prepared to implement externally.

Using AIM for Internal Project Team Change
There are several relevant elements of the AIM change process that are potentially in play to manage changes within the project team itself as it moves the definition of success from “Installation” (getting a process, system, or structural change to ‘go live’) vs. “Implementation” which we define as:

  • On time
  • On budget
  • All technical objectives met
  • All business objectives met
  • All human objectives met

Here are some examples of considerations based on the AIM change process:

1. Define the Change - behavioral changes needed within the project team:

  • What impact will this new definition of success have on roles and responsibilities?
  • What specifically will project team members need to do differently if the goal is business realization?
  • How disruptive will this be for these individuals, so that levels of resistance can be anticipated? (resistance to change is a function of level of disruption)
  • What specifically will other members and leaders of the PMO organization need to do differently?

2. Generate Sponsorship - are the PMO leaders and other involved leadership personally, visibly committed to this change and aligning a project to achieving value realization as demonstrated by their own actions? This includes what they Express, Model, and Reinforce.

  • Are leaders Expressing the importance of business realization in their own behavior, on a daily basis, both privately and publically? For example, are the leaders discussing business realization in team meetings? How are leaders communicating the new performance expectations? Are leaders considering all areas of opportunity to accelerate value including the technical solutions themselves?
  • Do they Model commitment by their willingness to provide necessary resources to train individuals and to extend resource commitments on projects past go live to full business realization?
  • Do leaders Reinforce commitment by rewarding those who demonstrate the new behaviors, and provide negative consequences to those who don’t? How will these new performance requirements be measured?

3. Reinforcement – a key principle of AIM is if you don’t change the reinforcement, you don’t get the change. This concept can also be applied within the project team to help a team plan and manage a project toward business value realization.

  • Are project teams and leaders focused on Installation milestones such as progress toward technical deliveries? Do they include value realization milestones such as Target audience readiness levels?
  • Are PMO measures solely focused on the health of the project such as SPI and CPI (Schedule Performance and Cost Performance Indexes)? If so, do the schedules and budgets include the work needed to manage the behavioral objectives? If not, then these measures are in fact reinforcing Installation!

There is always a dynamic tension between the need to get projects completed at speed, at the highest level of quality, and at the lowest possible cost. That said, unless the project team itself is focused on business outcomes rather than the Installation activity, true success will not be achieved.

Thanks to Amy Madson, Office of the CIO, IT Program Management Excellence, Raytheon Company for her invaluable contributions to this article.

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Topics: Value Realization/ROI, Leadership, Project Management