I mentioned in Part 1 to this blog that change management is the most critical part of project management, in my opinion. I also said that mitigating risks here must start very early in the process, even before the planning phase of a project starts, and even before the project initiation. Now you say “What comes before project initiation?”. According to PMBOK, Initiation is the first of the 5 process groups. What can be earlier?
It is called Assessment and Recommendations. These two areas are critical before the start of any project. They are officially not part of PMBOK, but our philosophy at CI Solutions Group is that they must occur before every project, at least to some degree. This is most critical to ensuring success and reducing risks to any given project. I’ve seen projects encounter trouble in the change management area, even with the greatest of planning, execution, and monitoring during a project. How can this be?
Well, as mentioned in Part 1 of this blog, change management in the context discussed here is about people, how people are impacted by change, how people react to change, and how we can successfully manage through that change by involving people in the project. People and their involvement and commitment vary through a project. Everyone brings a different set of skills, strengths, and weaknesses to the project. It is the weaknesses we must identify, develop remedies, and shore up. Otherwise, until such time, it may be best to delay moving forward with the project.
Now, project management professionals may disagree with this approach, the idea being that tools are provided by PMBOK that will mitigate risks here. This is true, but to mitigate even further, to ensure a higher likelihood of success, with minimal issues, a pre-project assessment and recommendations is a must. Hypocrisy exists in every organization. “We are totally committed to this project. Our people will always be available when needed.” We’ve all heard that before. “I’m at your disposal throughout the project. I’m totally committed to this project and the success of the project.”
All well-meaning comments, but in reality the above is rarely seen through the life of the project. We must probe to find the areas where the commitment to a project is minimal, questionable, and the likelihood of resources when needed or management support when needed will not be there. That occurs in the assessment. Recommendations are based on assessment results and drive any remedy to the situation such that the project can move forward with the initiation phase.
Finding out later in the project that a manager refuses to be involved, refuses to provide the leadership needed to ensure success of this project in their area, is too late. Can we remedy during the project? PMBOK says we can but it is more difficult and can derail a project, at least for a period of time, until that can be remedied by whatever means agreed upon by the project management group and the company’s leadership team.
Quite frankly, if the right skill sets for the project do not exist in an organization, or if lack of commitment for a project and commitment to providing management leadership needed in a project is permeated throughout the organization, wouldn’t it be nice to know this sooner than later? As the saying goes, “You can pay now or you can pay later.” It is more expensive to find out the issues later in the project as opposed to before the project start.
Do you want to improve the likelihood of success in a project? If so, then give this a try before your next project.