4 Strategies to get Project & Change Management on the same team

Project Managers and Change Managers want the same end results – successful implementation of a new initiative or program.  There is only one key difference - the expectations from within the business differ.

Both of these roles need to cope with frequent and unexpected events – some that were already anticipated and could have been predicted, some that were anticipated with impacts that were bigger than originally expected, and others that could not have been predicted or anticipated.

In an ideal world, Project Managers want deliverables to be met on time and on budget. They want the implementation and rollout to meet the expected schedule within a stable environment.

In this very same ideal world, Change Managers would like to maintain control of, be fully aware of, and ensure others are aware of, the changing environment.

They would like to ensure all changes have been approved and fully communicated to the impacted users, with transparency and business visibility along with change consistency topping the list. In the ideal world of a Change Manager, Sponsors and the change team work together, support each other and encourage and present the change as a united front.

If we then throw in the Business Interests, you’ll often find they are a combination of the desires of both of these teams – projects to be delivered on time and on budget within a stable environment; a smooth transition overall of the entire program and, of course, change impact that has been communicated in advance to all stakeholders involved.

So what are some of the steps that can be taken to ensure all three entities win, when it comes to managing a new initiative or program?

Perhaps by looking at things a little differently – what if Change Managers and Project Managers assumed a position of ‘collaborative leadership’ when it comes to the management of successful program?

Here's how this could be achieved:

1. Collaboration – if successful implementation and progress of the program requires contribution from individuals that are operating from within different disciplines (as discussed above), then working together and collaborating has to be one of the most important aspects to ensuring the success of a program. This includes keeping the channels of communication open, holding regular meetings, and of course, backing each other up (especially when the going gets tough). Real change leaders demonstrate the ability to back each other up, every day, no matter what

2. Prepare for anything to go wrong – because inevitably it will. The real change leaders, the ones with gumption and an ability to make things happen, will be prepared for anything to turn against them. The key here is to assume there will be surprises (some nasty and some nice). Both Change Managers and Project Managers need to anticipate disruptions while ensuring they maintain the ability to respond in a proactive way (even though they will effectively be reacting to an issue, by being prepared for the worst, they can be proactive in their response)

3. Flexible attitude – as noted above, if you need to prepare for anything, then you need to be flexible – in your approach and in your plan. Developing short term plans with a high level of detail and long term plans with a big picture view, may be a good start. Ensuring you are able to adapt and provide flexibility where needed will mean you will feel more confident in your natural leadership abilities when the stakes suddenly become higher than you had originally anticipated

4. Maintain a good momentum – if you can meet the first three points above, then maintaining momentum will probably come naturally as a result of the first three. Leaders are naturally followed, so keeping momentum at a high and being genuine and authentic, will keep your team reassured.  Regular meetings should continue with all teams involved in the change.  Make sure the channels of communication stay open at all times, and most of all, show positive energy towards what you are doing. Others will believe in you and see that you have the confidence to work though anything that gets thrown your way – the sign of a true leader.

So whether you are project managing or change managing the next initiative at your organisation, follow these 4 simple rules and the chance of success of the program is likely to increase exponentially.