And so here we are, at the end of our journey (well, almost) of EDU627. In this final blog post of the four blog series, we’re gonna talk about change. Specifically, change management within a project.
We all know change is inevitable, and yet most of us tend to think that any changes to our projects mean we screwed up somewhere – we didn’t plan properly, or we missed something, etc. Russell (2015) tries to help us get ahead of that thought process, reminding us that “it is impossible to completely anticipate all the things you’ll discover during the project…it is also impossible to freeze the customers’ needs” (p. 62). We are not psychics, right (though, if you’re reading this and you ARE psychic, please come talk to me)? We can’t magically know what’s going to gum up the works as we go – that’s why we develop a scope diagram and a plan for managing change as it comes.
“But why do we even need a plan,” you ask, “why can’t we just fly by the seat of our pants? Change isn’t that hard.” Ah. But isn’t it though?
Imagine, if you will, that you’re a designer within a project. Imagine the manager comes to you and says “we need X thing to look like Y,” so you make it look like Y. The next day, the manager says “the customer doesn’t like Y; make it look like Z.” And then KEEPS DOING THAT TO YOU. There’s an excellent website called Clients From Hell that actually has hundreds, if not thousands, of stories about clients changing things consistently, and then wondering why their project is delayed, or why it’s costing so much more than expected, etc. It’s frustrating, both for the project manager and the members of the team – imagine putting in that much work, only to be told: “no, we don’t like it, do it again a different way.”
More than that, a relatively recent study showed that projects with solid change management plans were more likely to meet their objectives than those without change management plans (Prosci, 2017.).
It’s difficult tracking change, but using the scope diagram is a good way to keep the changes limited – who is allowed to make changes? What types of changes will be allowed? Once you have that, you can figure out the tools you need to track the changes being made. This will do double duty – it will both create a record for future projects that run in similar veins (ProjectManager, n.d.), as well as a record for the customer to make sure that every change, and the cost inherent in it, is accounted for.
Solid change management processes allow the project manager to verify whether or not the change is required early on, and also ensures, as mentioned previously, that scope creep is minimized. Minimizing scope creep and keeping tabs on the changes being made in a project is what allows the project manager to verify the quality of the product at each stage of the project. Using the example from Russell (2015): if quality is the first priority, best practice is to constantly fine-tune, and track all of the changes to show the customer that you, as the project manager, are listening to them. This also does double duty of CYA – if the customer has an issue with increased cost, it can also be helpful to show them what’s been happening and why it needed to happen.
So yeah. Track your changes, people. Sometimes it’s the only way to both keep a project on track as well as CYA.
On a more personal note, while this blog is a required part of my classwork, I’m also grateful that it gives me the ability to think out some of what I’ve learned this term. Learning new stuff isn’t usually as….challenging for me as project management is. I’m not a manager – I never have been, really, much preferring to be told what to do rather than run things. But I recognize (now, anyway) that there’s going to be times when I need to know how to do this stuff. So at least now I know. And knowing is half the battle.
ProjectManager. (n.d.). How to Lead a Change Management Process. Retrieved from Project Manager: https://www.projectmanager.com/software/use-cases/change-management
Prosci. (2017). Why Change Management. Retrieved from Prosci: https://www.prosci.com/resources/articles/why-change-management
Russell, L. (2015). Project Managment for Trainers (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Talent Development. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.postu.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1107623&site=ehost-live&scope=site