Project Management & Change Management

I am often struck by how organizations will spend thousands if not millions of dollars pursuing creative and innovative thinking, and afterward wonder why they have to cut resources or core services. The importance of creative thinking is seen in market leaders, who can be agile in their approach to shifts and adaptive to changes. Look closely and you will see those organizations that promote creativity also have consistent change processes and project management standards. Great work emerges when there is a strong scaffolding of documented processes. I know from what I’ve seen in my own company and what I’ve seen in our client companies, that out-of-the-box thinking with no infrastructure, no thought to sustainability, and no means to replicate, leads to wasted time and money even in the best cases.

Change Influences Standards and Processes

Project Management, with standards and processes vetted around the world in diverse industries, is a way to actually foster that elusive and valued creative thinking. If you get a great result – from a product, process, or service – and you know the elements that went into achieving it, you are better positioned to maintain or repeat it. Additionally, if your employees know that change is baked in the process and can lead to better outcomes, they are more likely to adjust quickly and keep their attention on the desired outcomes. Project Management standards position an organization to put real energy towards great work, instead of wasting budget to pay your people to figure out how to do the basics.

Experience with Change Management

From my own organization, a national training company, we use project management to oversee our trainer onboarding program. We have checklists, quality control processes, timelines with specific tasks, and feedback sessions. Using a standard process, we can quickly onboard new trainers to ensure high quality for our customers. If we lacked the structure of project management-infused processes, I would have a higher expense for each hire and lower quality for each employee’s performance. That project management-guided onboarding process also reflects change management – each new training is a change in a way. Trainers will come with their own work experience and expectations. We have to have a process that through consistency and standards, provides an equitable and non-biased process that can be personalized for each employee’s specific needs.

Change in Project Management is Essential

One of the reasons we use Project Management Institute (PMI)® standards and processes as documented in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), is the vigorous data research and validation behind each edition. The release of PMBOK® Guide7th edition reflects what I have seen in my own company. Elevation of the importance of teamwork and leadership, with a balance of those skills to technical skills. Businesses from around the world influence the evolution of Project Management standards and processes. Why would project management standards ever change? Because change is constant and businesses that fail to manage their change struggle. I know this from conversations with my business leader peers, from industry research, and in the products that our customers seek for their workforce. A combination of consistent project management with change management components baked in can help a business mitigate potential negative risks and act upon positive risks.

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Tips to Balance Staying Competitive and Creative

How can an organization embed change management within their project management? It takes leadership, consistency, and clearly laid out standards. Here are some of the tips I share with professionals seeking to balance staying competitive and creative with a sustainable business infrastructure:

Organizational Culture Factors

  • Integrate business strategy with culture and change tools
  • Emphasize need to align project and process work with enterprise goals
  • Recruit and retain project managers who can coach and inspire, not just track work

Communication and Change Practices

  • Utilize communication plans to ensure accurate, timely information for all stakeholders
  • Acknowledge different views with respect to garner trust environment
  • Be up front about changes and the reasons why there is a change and what impact could be

Project Management Components

  • Be consistent and predictable, even in the face of change
  • Seek input from others and show how it is applied
  • Leverage emotional intelligence skills to create work environment of trust and respect
  • Incorporate industry standards, tools, and processes to streamline work

Summary

Even if your business is a sole proprietorship, if you cannot manage the projects, your business (and income!) will suffer. Just as solid project management standards that reflect change management considerations can position any business for success, project management as a profession must adapt to meet the needs of businesses. Today’s PMBOK® Guide speaks to a global economy, virtual teams, and technology deliverables; the 2021 PMBOK® Guide reflects the needs of businesses that have different project management methodologies in play to best manage different workstreams. It is a far cry from the early 1980’s report that is the origin of the PMBOK® Guide; the report (1981), evolved into the “Ethics, Standards, and Accreditation Committee Final Report” (1983), and changed into the resource document “The Project Management Body of Knowledge” (1987). Each iteration was grounded in the need to advance the development of the profession of project management.

The details of tools and processes used in formal project management have and will continue to evolve. Change is what keeps this profession exciting and relevant. My challenge to you is to always keep your team’s project management skills at the top of their game, so your business benefits and your employees enjoy professional success.  

-Jason Cassidy, CEO of Project Management Academy

Jason Cassidy
Jason Cassidy