Ask 100 people to define Change Management, and you'll get 100 different definitions. At the end of the day, the definition is just semantics. What really matters is whether you can implement a Change Management program in a practical way that allows you to support your organization in successfully achieving its goals. Whether you're a Change Manager, a consultant, or the tech. guy who was told to "figure out some Change Management stuff," this blog will help address common issues and topics you're likely to run into along the way.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Change Management in the Project Lifecycle: Post-Project Phase

The system has been implemented, your changes have gone live, and you give a sigh of relief.  You're done.

Wrong.

Although many companies skip it, there is still one phase left: the post-project phase.  This is the time when you kick-off sustainable activities, evaluate the success of the project, and complete any shut-down activities.  Luckily, this phase is typically less frantic than those leading up to the implementation, but it is no less important.

Sustainable Activities
There are a number of activities that should continue to occur after a project has gone live.  The one you need to focus on as a change manager is on-going training.  In the short term, there will be people who missed the training roll out and need to receive training in order to use the new system.  There will also be people who need supplemental training.  A day, a week, a month after Go Live, people will discover new areas of training that they need, as well as existing areas that they've forgotten.

In the long term, you need to have a sustainable plan in place to:

  • Provide training to new hires and people who switch positions
  • Update training materials as the system evolves (and it will, I guarantee it)
  • Offer refresher training on activities that only occur occasionally (e.g., year-end close activities for the finance department)
Whether on-going training is an activity that is handled by a company-wide training department or the project run team, your job isn't done until you have a plan in place to address these needs.

Adoption Evaluation
I have been at a number of clients where they tell me that their past projects have failed.  When I ask them what failed, they admit it wasn't the technology.  The new system was put in place without a hitch.  The real problem is that people simply refused to use it.  Once the system has gone live, you need to evaluate whether the organization has adopted it.  Are they using it when they should?  Are they using it the way they should?  Is there an influential group that refuses to use it, thus causing other groups to avoid it as well (ahem, I'm talking about you, Management)?

If the change has been adopted, congratulations!  Now, put in place a plan to ensure the organization continues to use it.  If the change has not been adopted, start doing some analysis on why this has occurred, and put a plan in place to address the issues.

Key Performance Indicators and Achieving Business Objectives
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) may or may not be part of the Change Management team's responsibilities.  Even if it isn't, this is an area where you may want to partner with the responsible team.  If the organization is not meeting its KPIs and achieving the business objectives that were part of the project, the Change Management team will likely need to be part of the solution.  Whether there's a need for additional training, more communication, or other Change activities, you can help provide the "people perspective" that goes with the statistics.

Project shut down
Finally, when you have completed the last of your responsibilities, developed plans for sustainable activities, and handed over on-going tasks to the run team, you need to shut down the project Change Management team.  If your company has a system for knowledge transfer, ensure that you have submitted relevant work materials and feedback.  Make sure your consultants and contractors are paid and have had their access to the company shut down.  Check off the last boxes on your work plan.  Celebrate with your team.  This is the time to make sure your "t"s are crossed and your "i"s are dotted.

Congratulations!  The project is complete and you're ready to move on to your next Change Management adventure.

Let me know: How many projects have you been on that had a "Post-Project" or "Shut-Down" phase?

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