Nov 12, 2014

Don't Forget to Manage the Organizational Change that EPPM Tools Create

Posted by Allen Young in Culture & Change Management, Portfolio Management, Project Management Training | 0 Comments

When weak sponsorship faces off against culture, culture ALWAYS wins!

Not to sound like a broken record, let me just repeat (and repeat) that organizational change management (OCM) activities should be injected into every EPPM tool implementation. In parallel with the vendor selection process, conduct an organizational change readiness assessment. Areas to focus on include:

  • Sponsorship: Having an authorizing sponsor at the appropriate level is critical, as grassroots EPPM tool implementations NEVER (let me repeat, N-E-V-E-R) work. Equally important is having cascading sponsorship—having all management affected by the tool implementation on board with it. Since EPPM tools are intended to be utilized on a repetitive and ongoing basis, sustaining sponsorship is also required.
  • History: If the organization tried to implement an EPPM tool before and failed, understand why it failed so you can avoid repeating the same mistakes. Be advised that most companies in the EPPM tool space don’t know what they don’t know, and won’t recognize exactly why the failure occurred—just that it failed and who got blamed. It takes additional work and understanding, including working with a tool implementation expert (ideally someone other than the tool vendor, who at the end of the day is still trying to sell software), to get to the root cause.
  • Culture: ideally, the tool should work in harmony with the culture of the organization, though that isn’t always possible. Many moons ago, I was responsible for an implementation with a high-tech company based in California that allowed people to completely manage their own time—until management told their employees that they needed to start tracking their project activities via a timesheet as part of the upcoming Primavera implementation. The mutiny against “big brother watching us” almost killed the project before it got started! [That company is also out of business—killed by its more efficient and structured competitors.] The more the tool goes against the grain of the culture—which forces cultural change—the stronger the sponsorship needs to be. When weak sponsorship faces off against culture, culture ALWAYS wins!
  • Change Agents: Most companies plow into EPPM tool implementations without any of these outside of the PMO, with predictable results. These are your champions for change, and need to leverage them throughout the implementation and beyond.
  • Resistance: As with any significant change, there will ALWAYS be some degree of resistance (aka, “the Valley of Despair”) somewhere in the organization. It’s critical to identify it, determine how severe it’s likely to be (how deep and how long the “Valley" is likely to be), how it could adversely impact the implementation, and what actions to take to mitigate/avoid/ignore it.
  • Targets: Ultimately, all organizational change comes down to individual adoption and utilization of the change. Key to this is not only assessing potential or real resistance, but what may be contributing to it. In many cases, it’s nothing more than a shift from the known (spreadsheets, presentations) to the unknown (the EPPM tool). In other cases, it may be that the project managers are so over-stressed and overworked that they have no time to even attend an EPPM training class, never mind have time to actually use it.

And there there are several actions that are critical to take, based on the findings from the assessment:

  • Create and execute a Change Management Action Plan
  • Create a Project Charter and Project Plan (including making sure that the OCM activities are included in the Project Schedule), and run it like a true project, and not just a software installation.
  • Create and execute a Marketing Plan (may be a subset of the project’s overall Communications Plan). The Marketing Plan must at a minimum pitch what’s in it not only for the company, but for the individuals as well.
  • Put some basic metrics in place to not only track how well the implementation is going, but how adoption and utilization is going over time once the tool goes live.
  • Don’t send the end users to canned navigation/feature/function training classes—classroom style, self-paced or otherwise—because it’s only effective if the manner in which the tool is implemented exactly matches the training material, which it never does. Some degree of tailoring of the course content to match now the company will use the tool will go a long way to increasing adoption, utilization and consistency of data. Training should also include processes with the tool.
  • Do a pilot implementation and get the kinks out of the tool configuration, processes, output (reports, dashboards) and integrations with other applications before rolling the tool out to the broader user base.
  • Track lessons learned throughout.

Part 4 of this series will cover the process issues.


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