Integrating Change Management concepts into Project Management practices - part 2

By Nate Scherman posted 22 days ago


Hello again, Project and Change Management Community members!

Today’s post is the second half of the series of Integrating Change Management concepts in Project Management practices. This article includes ideas and another template for consideration as we explore ways to incorporate change management into common project management tools. The first post in this series, Integrating Change Management concepts into Project Management practices - part 1, highlighted key additions to the Project Charter being used at Kansas State University. The added discussion topics in charter development and review meetings help draw focus to some key change management questions as we try to enhance project success without the luxury of having formal change managers on staff.  

The second area we are focusing on is an updated Stakeholder Register/Analysis process. Traditionally, the Stakeholder Analysis process and template captured the traditional data points about our project teams and the known users affected by a project. The updates proposed in this article and shared template allow us to be more intentional about identifying the potential needs of our affected user groups (audience) through a shift in terminology and data points collected.

The first update uses language to help broaden the perspective of how we think about those involved in and affected by a project. Adjusting the title of the template to Audience (Stakeholder) Analysis instead of Stakeholder Analysis. This subtle change is intended to shift the perceptions of the project team to think as performers on stage. What makes a performance memorable and captivating? Engagement with the audience! If we can begin early in a project thinking about and planning how we engage with our audience, we are taking a small step forward in integrating change management to our projects.

Another update made to the stakeholder audience analysis is moving away from RACI terminology for our audience and to terms used by Barb Grant in her book “Change Management that Sticks.” (Grant, 2023) These terms include:

1.       Project Initiator – This is the project sponsor, executive, senior management, or maybe a regulatory body enacting a required change. FAFSA Simplification, anyone?

2.       Change Partner – This group includes subject matter experts, suppliers, and project team members. These are the people we need to enable the changes brought on by a project.

3.       Change Recipient – This is a very important category of people to consider when completing an audience analysis. We should be asking ourselves as a project team and with our project initiators, “who will be affected by changes made in this project?”

4.       Change Onlooker – These are people who are not directly affected by a project or change but may have interest in staying informed. A good question to ask is, “how will this project or change affect potential students, employees, customers, or people with downstream processes related to the project?

A third update made to the Audience Analysis template is to measure the perception of or attitude toward the project. This analysis can be done in several ways, possibly even beginning with assumptions from the project team’s knowledge of an individual or group of change recipients. For more advanced practices, periodic surveys can serve well to understand how the recipients feel about a project, including if they are even aware of it. The template includes four options for classifying a change recipient: Unaware, resistant, supportive, or championing . A key point here, and again a tip from Barb Grant’s book, is to remove an option for “neutral.” Especially if this evaluation is done through an interview or survey with an individual or group, the “neutral” option is too easy of a choice. We want to know which side of the fence (for or against the change) a person or group is on to help understand how to begin engaging with the audience.

The final data point I will highlight on the audience analysis template is the change / training impact, and another shout out to Barb Grant for this suggestion. This value will likely be an estimate provided by those most familiar with the project’s execution and end goals.  You may recall from the KSU Project Charter Template, that one of the question we should ask at the outset of a project is to “Describe the end state of the project including key benefits and desired mindset of change recipients.” Based on that future state goal, this change / training impact assessment is asking how many hours of training it will take for the audience member or group to reach that point of acceptance and participation in the completed project. The more training time audience members will require, the more energy we need to spend preparing them for that undertaking.

The audience analysis template includes three sheets. The first is for data collection, which includes the metrics discussed in this article, the second sheet contains three dashboards to help paint a picture of what those data points represent. Specific to change management perspective, the bottom two charts will show where a group or individual falls in a color-coded graph.

The Audience Perception vs. Project Impact analysis is intended to highlight audience members who can affect project delivery and how they feel about the project. Obviously, those who have high impact capability and are not supportive of the project will require effort to understand their concerns and application of some change management techniques to ensure project success. Similarly, the Audience Perception vs Training Impact chart highlights in orange, the audience members who will be most drastically affected from a new process and who are not supportive or possibly unaware of the project. To the right of these charts are ideas about tactics that could be used for engaging with stakeholders in each quadrant. 

Keep in mind that this analysis should be done periodically throughout a project, to gauge how the perceptions of the audience members are changing. To help ensure that a project/change will “stick,” it is worth the time and effort to ensure audience members are engaged and supportive during a project rather than trying to go back after project delivery!

This is a new approach we are just beginning to explore at K-State. If you have tips, suggestions, or want to learn more about how this template is working for us, please don’t hesitate to connect!.

Grants, B. (2023). Chance Management that Sticks: A practical, people-centered approach, for high buy-in and meaningful results. 
  Encompass Consulting Limited.