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The 6 Surprising Reasons Your Project is at Risk


Minimize risk and promote the advancement of your organization by making change management in your project environment a priority.

Budget overruns and missed targets are common in the world of project management, but they shouldn’t be. Far too often organizations are plagued with projects that go off the rails due to ineffective process methodologies, mismanagement of time and budget, and inconsistent project management.

Most Project Managers understand that good project management means achieving objectives on time, within budget, and effectively managing risk and scope. Despite this, something is just not adding up.

The reason is that many Project Managers are not equipped to effectively manage change. Change management is often undervalued in businesses today. Many leaders will dismiss the concept as trivial, but the reality is when best practices are ignored, leaders open projects up to unnecessary risk that can be detrimental to the bottom line.

Not paying attention to change management while managing projects can lead to the following deadly mistakes.

1. The Implementation Money Pit

During the implementation phase of your project is when you’ll often see the biggest impact of a lack of a change management strategy. If employees are left in the dark about why a project is happening and how the project could benefit them, the likelihood of running into resisters increases greatly. Milestones are not met, deadlines are blown and it becomes an uphill battle for implementation and adoption. All the setbacks and extra hours turn into missed revenue and wasted effort. Often the required changes are not reinforced during the implementation phase, which can greatly diminish the intended benefits.

2. Wasting Time

Great project managers are disciplined, rigorous people who follow plans and checklists designed to ensure that a project is delivered successfully. Unfortunately, managing people’s response to, and adoption of, the change is one of the most important parts of a project that does not appear on a list and cannot be easily measured. Timelines can be sabotaged when specific change management steps are not built into the project plan, no matter how tightly timelines are managed. Project Managers can spend countless hours and even days spinning their wheels trying to achieve buy-in, with no guarantee of success. If the change isn’t successfully adopted, all the time and money spent implementing the project is lost and more time will be wasted trying to get it back on track.

3. Underestimating the Resisters and Not Using Your Champions

Incorporating change management principles into your stakeholder engagement means developing a customized strategy to address these unique groups and avoid running into the issues discussed in this article. Stakeholder engagement is a critical component of project management and will fail if change resisters and champions are not identified up front. Identifying and empowering your champions allows you to develop a powerful ally to spread the message to the front lines. These champions can also help to uncover resisters previously unknown earlier in the process, giving you more time to deploy the appropriate course of action to dealing with the problem.

4. Forgetting the Human Component

Project management methodologies don’t take into account the emotional response to change. People have different levels of acceptance, often acting as a barrier to project progress. The barrier increases when there is a breakdown in communicating the changes to employees. A major fallacy that contributes to this breakdown is some Project Managers believe that dealing with the change falls to the Human Resources team. Change can have a significant effect on employees, and produce knock-on effects if the emotional response is left unrecognized. This also applies to employees who are not immediately affected by change. These people can be forgotten and not engaging them can threaten or slow down implementation further down the line.

5. No Communications Plan

The ‘kiss of death’ for many projects is the lack of a communications plan. A communications plan goes beyond talking to employees – it is a detailed document that ensures timely notification about changes, explanation of the change, and sound reasoning about why a project is moving forward. Many people have a fear of the unknown, and by dismissing the importance of a communications plan, an organization leaves the door open to all the dangers listed above. A sound strategy and detailed communications plan are crucial to successfully managing change within a Project Management environment.

6. Change Management Doesn’t End After the Last Box Has Been Checked

People believe that change management ends after implementation; this simply isn’t true. There is no mechanism in place to make sure that the change has been implemented successfully, and continues to be used in the manner it was designed for. We have found that often Project Managers are not circling back on completed projects. This means that there is no way to tell if the business benefits have been realized or if project close out documentation was created.

Regular communication and checks must occur in order to ensure that the project has been implemented the way it was intended and that people are adjusting to those changes. If anything comes up that is contrary, project managers must be equipped to deal quickly and effectively with those issues.

The Bottom Line

The repercussions of not considering change management are clear. Morale can suffer, projects can go off track, and a series of unintended consequences can arise; all of these lead to lost time and wasted money.

As a business leader, it is your responsibility to minimize risk and promote the advancement of your organization by making sound investment decisions. By ignoring the best practices associated with change management, you open your organization up to serious risk.

Fortunately, this can all be avoided by making change management in your project environment a priority. Projects will run smoother, lead times will improve, and overall the organization will become more efficient, leaving you and your people to continue to focus on what you do best.


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