When I discuss the blending of project management and change management during IMA’s AIM Change Management Training sessions, inevitably someone always asks, “but aren’t they the same thing?” While in a perfect world we would see project management and change management as one blended protocol, there are several fundamental differences between the two disciplines. Individually, each plays a critically important role in the success of a project, but when blended from the beginning, they will help to ensure ROI is achieved. A much more valuable metric in my (not so) humble opinion.
If you are currently working on a business change whether is it transformational in scope or a small procedural modification, chances are you are extremely focused on getting to the “go-live” date. Most likely, there are strategies in place and resources dedicated to ensuring the project is going to be on time, on budget and to scope. In other words, once the project is launched you can check the box that it is complete and move on to the next change, right? WRONG!
I think we can probably all agree the rate of change has increased exponentially over the past few years. Every organization I know (whether it be in business or in healthcare) is working at the speed of light striving to get a competitive advantage, improve their market share, make their operations efficient all while increasing their shareholders’ returns. In order to make all these things happen simultaneously, Senior leaders are attempting multiple complex, large-scale changes at a somewhat alarming rate. No wonder the level of stress across organizations is so high!
Hint: it may not be when you think!
What is the end goal for your strategic initiatives? While it may seem like an obvious question, you’d be surprised at the number of organizations that get it wrong. Whether it is new technology, Agile, continuous improvement such as Lean/Six Sigma, restructuring or a business/clinical transformation, most organizations focus on getting to go-live. Shortly after that date, the project team is dismantled, and the initiative is checked off as complete and probably “successful.”
We’ve all heard the statistic 70% of all organizational change projects fail. This figure was first reported by Hammer and Champy in 1993 and, unfortunately, recent research confirms the staggering statistic hasn’t changed by much. The ugly truth of the matter is today’s organizations are still plagued by projects that are sub-optimized, if not facing outright failure. “Spotty” implementations are all too common with success in one area but not in all areas impacted by the change.
The business value in using a disciplined project management protocol, such as Agile or Waterfall, is undeniable. Project management ensures projects are completed on time, on budget and to scope. And with the amount of investments being made on large, complex organizational change at an all-time high, these metrics are critical. But, what about using a change management process? Is there a value there as well?
Your organization probably has very specific metrics and measurement tools surrounding project management. Measuring if your project is on time, on budget, and technically sound is pretty straight forward. But how do you measure change management success? One thing we can tell you for sure…it is much more important to measure business results than how well change management worked on a project.
Don Harrison, developer of the Accelerating Implementation Methodology (AIM), has dedicated his entire, distinguished career to helping organizations worldwide implement complex changes at speed. Several years ago, he began to notice an alarming trend. Organizations were so focused on getting to launch or “go live” of their initiatives, once they got there, they declared the project over. They checked the box that the project was complete and then moved on to the next.
It sounds so obvious when we say, “The end goal of every transformational change should be full benefit realization.” Duh! Of course. But in our change management consulting work we see so many organizations who get to the “go-live” or the cut-over date of a project, declare it complete, and thus… successful. But the fact is that go live has nothing to do with getting to full implementation! Your transformation is not “done.”