I believe that to be an effective Project Manager, an appreciation of what is required to create behavioural change is essential. After all, it is not our project deliverables (new systems, apps, infrastructure etc) that realise benefits, it is their use by all those in the business that make a difference to the bottom line.
Project deliverable is no longer enough
It is no longer enough to appreciate that project deliverables trigger the ‘change curve’ where our users experience lower productivity as they unlearn the old ways of working and practice and build competency in the new ways of working. Projects need to understand the activities involved in making this change and the time required.
It is an uncomfortable reality for many Project Managers that the design, practice and adoption of new ways of working are outside of their control, so delivering on time, on budget and to the required quality can be overshadowed by delays from the business in starting to use what has been given to them. My friend is running a project which has just gone live (late April) but which the business are not planning to start implementing until July as they are busy at the moment!
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, the Project Manager needs to ‘manage’ the business relationship, creating an environment in which they are a partner in the project, drawing in all of their business readiness activities into the project plan so that delivery and implementation are seamless.
Change Management is central to PM job
I know some Project Managers think that I am widening their responsibilities and that Change Management are a separate discipline. It is a separate but complementary discipline and understanding the psychological and emotional techniques to motivate people to work differently is a huge subject. But some appreciation of what is involved can only improve the success rate of projects.
This is why I feel the latest edition of the PMI BoK and the competency model from the Association of Project Management are missing a great opportunity. Whilst PMI emphasis the importance of delivering business value, they don’t include the ‘how’ i.e. behavioural change techniques. APM has a competence on It is time to reflect the competencies of behavioural change and business readiness in these important standards. These professional bodies reflect the highest quality of the project management profession, and I think that this quality aligns to a wider brief of integrated project and change management.
What do you think? Am I adding too much to the role of Project Manager? Should project teams have a separate Business Change Manager as a standard role? Please share your comments.