Organizational Change Management in Projects

Professional Project Managers are experts in change management. Project Change Management. Changes in scope, budget and schedule are identified, analyzed, approved and woven into the project plan.

But Organizational Change Management (OCM) is a different concept which is just as critical to the success of the project. What impact will the project product have on the organization? Is the organization ready to accept the product of the project? Are users ready for the new system? How do you measure acceptance of the new system?

OCM needs to be part of any modern project plan. There needs to be specific attention paid to the impact the project will have on the organization. User training is just one element of organizational change management. Successful project managers need to go several steps further. They need to identify the different communications avenues and key stakeholders throughout the organization that can have an impact on the acceptance of the new system. Are they in the loop? What are their concerns?

Different departments will have different concerns regarding the project product. One department may be concerned about having adequate training for its users, but another department may be more concerned with the impact on data flows, and another department may be more concerned with the impact on organizational processes. A great project manager will uncover the specific impacts on each of the key stakeholders and their groups, and have a plan to address each one individually.

In addition to training, things like requirements sessions to allow for user input, lunch and learns, and the design of specific impact statements to measure the impact of the project product in a quantifiable way. If you can’t measure it, you can’t see it. The use of surveys and other customer feedback collection methods are a key component of any effective OCM strategy.

As with every other project management discipline, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are several OCM methods and practices that have been proven successful in the past and are taught as a business discipline. There is one developed by an organization called Prosci.  It is the called the ADKAR model: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcements. This model has been used successfully by many organizations and has a well-defined training and delivery mechanism. There are other models as well, so there is no need for Project Managers to reinvent the wheel when deciding how to handle OCM in their projects.

Organizational Change Management is a critical success factor for modern projects. A good project manager will be mindful of it. A great project manager will apply proven OCM principles and engage OCM savvy resources as part of their effort. Project success is more than finishing the project on budget and on schedule. It also includes making sure your organization is ready for the change your project brings and embraces it to its fullest.