Benefits come from changes to how you do business, how you operate, how you penetrate the market. Benefits come from change. Therefore, it makes sense that every project should be seen as a ‘change project’.
But what does this mean? One CFO told me proudly that all of his projects were now ‘change projects’. When I asked him what he had changed, he answered, “Nothing, we just now call them ‘change projects!’”
Viewing a project as a ‘change project’ changes the questions you ask up front. With, say, a systems project you ask, “What do we need to do to get this system in?” The change project asks, “What needs to happen, what has to change to get us from where we are today to where we want to be (and sustain us there).”
Change projects also have a different ‘lifecycle’. Whereas technical projects go through design, develop, test and implement; change projects look to clarify (the unknowns), prepare (the changes), migrate (make the change) and sustain the change (once implemented). This is a different way of thinking and planning projects.
Technical delivery now becomes a ‘change stream’ along with education, training, communications and documentation. This makes ‘technical alignment’ a key change management activity -- ensuring that what the technical staff are developing exactly matches and supports the planned changes and outcomes. This is a very different perspective to seeing change management as the means for implementing the technical solution.
Also, when you plan your project as a change project, you find many changes you can do now to deliver immediate benefits. Indeed, we have consistently found we can realise up to 20% of the potential benefits during the project from changes made early. When you progressively deliver change you:
- reduce the net cost of the project through the savings made;
- inspire real confidence in the project as one that delivers benefits;
- reduce the change impact and workload by spreading it out over time;
- can assess ‘change readiness’ by assessing how well changes to date have been absorbed.;
© Jed Simms, Australia 2009.
Further support and useful tools to help you manage your investments, projects and portfolio are available from valuedeliverymanagement.com.
For the previous article in this series visit The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth #6 - ‘Success’ has three dimensions”.
For the first article in this series visit The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth #1 - We do projects to realise the Associated benefits.
For other series of project management articles by Jed Simms visit How do you know if your PMO is successful and "PMO: What’s in a name?".
Jed Simms is CIO magazine's project management columnist. Simms, founder of projects and benefits delivery research firm Capability Management, is also the developer of specialised project management and project governance Web site valuedeliverymanagement.com
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