As a Project Manager for 30 years now (that’s hard to write!), I have always employed a user first approach. That is not because someone told me that it was a good thing to do, but because it’s what has always come naturally to me. Organizational Change Management focuses on preparing your organization for a transformative journey by putting the people at the heart of change. Though this is a relatively new tool in my toolbox, what speaks to me is the view through the users’ lens when considering the project deliverables.

This approach can, and should, be implemented more from the project management perspective. During kickoff meetings on large transformation projects, we generally talk about the project itself: budget, scope, constraints, assumptions, risks, etc. The stakeholders at project kickoff meetings are not necessarily project managers. Further, the broader the audience, the less likely they want to hear about project management specifics. Looking from the perspective of the meeting attendees, think about what is relevant to them: Where are we going? How are we going to get there? How long will it take? If you share your ideas both in writing and using helpful visuals, you’ll find more attendees will align with what you are trying to convey. Using this approach can help to better lead clients through the entire project.

Remember that you can’t possibly know everything about a project when the project kicks off. It’s important to set expectations on the flow of the project. In my world, we spend a lot of time on discovery and design…you know, ‘measure twice, cut once.’ The project becomes more focused while we are going through this phase. We spend a good deal of time consuming that information, rather than producing documentation. Explaining that flow helps to set expectations from the start. Change Management has traditionally been tacked on to the end of a project but these days we understand that preparing users in advance of the change is fundamental in encouraging adoption. Although we may not be able to nail down all the user impacts from the start of the project, we can certainly start to document the changes we know and determine how we will integrate our message into established learning and communication streams.

Moving through the project phases, keep the audience’s focus in mind as you determine approaches for technical meetings, training, project status meetings, workshops, presentations, and approval meetings. Ask yourself ‘what am I trying to achieve with this session?’ ‘Who is my audience and how best can I use the precious time I have with them?’ Further to this, if your project is introducing new technologies, consider starting a workshop with a training session to ensure everyone is on the same page before proceeding with technical discussions. If client information is required for a meeting or workshop, make sure to communicate your requirements to the attendees beforehand so they can come prepared to discuss and make decisions on relevant topics.

By incorporating a Change Management approach to project management, the project flow becomes much more client-centric and allows for a better user experience. Project Management is integral to the successful completion of a project, but often we can review project specifics with the appropriate project stakeholders. When kicking off the project, consider adjusting your approach to excite and inspire the people in the room. Doing this will not only align the entire team on the changes taking place, but it will also increase the likelihood of complete project success.

Working at Softlanding, Change Management is integrated throughout the entire delivery process regardless of the project. We work to build a framework that not only applies to those leading the change but also to those who will be affected by the change and the new ways of working to adopt. If you are looking for a partner to best help support your team throughout your entire project, contact Softlanding.

Sue Hickman
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Sue Hickman

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