Projects and the Management of Change: Cause That's My Business

Projects and the Management of Change: Part 1

Cause That's My Business

Many have felt the extreme need for change in the past year and are now looking to create a better client experience. The question for many people is, “Where do we start?” Preparing for change with the end result in mind is key. That in turn means many of us will be facing projects this year. Some may have the resources internally to manage these with a set project manager while others will be managing the project themselves while still running their line of business. 

Projects come around for many different reasons and needs: efficiencies, solving for risks in a process, a decree by executive management, or even trying to eliminate redundancies in a process. I’ll leave the full-blown project management case definitions to our experts writing Parts 2 and 3 of this series.. Instead, let's review key areas for business line managers and the process you will follow managing a project while running the business. 

Defining the business needs

It’s simple, but the question is “What are you trying to achieve?” Remember, start with the end result in mind. Defining what you are going to accomplish is sort of like an algebra equation. Start with the sum and solve with x and y. Another way to look at it is to lend back to our elementary school days about writing. Conclusion/Summary and Restatement. So how do I define my business needs? 

Two minds are better than one

Getting a group of subject matter experts together to brainstorm how you want your process to look or a problem may be exactly what is needed to help define this case. Once you do that, you’re able to better define or summarize the processwhich then leads to restating the case with key performance indicators (KPI’s). While this sounds basic and easy in theory it can be quite difficult.  Have no fear though, Google is your friend! 

Research!!! “Supposing is good, but finding out is better.” 

With any project or plan research is key. While it may occur multiple times throughout a project, it’s important to make sure that you have the right pieces in place and avoid assumptions. 

Start from real info 

Without data, it is really just an opinion. Without the figures and facts making your business case can be hard. Having the data will help you when identifying what your KPI’s will be. Reduction in cost, reduction in time, reduction in effort, etc. Plus if you have those measurements you can use them to track your project performance. 

Record keeping is important

Having all of this written down will lend the ability to look back and help you refocus. It also will be the document you can present for your case if you need to get the approvals where necessary. 

The business case is done and approved! On to the next stage.

Managing a project 

Not every project is monumental. Sometimes the smaller changes can make big impacts and may take less time to research, plan, and implement. Throughout this series, we will be showcasing areas to help make your project a success. Also, you can learn from my mistakes or what I prefer to call lessons learned. 

Team support

I’m in favor of progress, but change I don’t like. Team members are key. Involving and engaging your team members early gives them some say in the matter and helps with their buy-in. As projects come about, team members may think “it is going to eliminate my job.” With most financial institutions (FI’s), this is not the case. Typically, most FI’s are looking to grow and expand. To do this most must look for time savings as well as how to deliver better and faster. 

For the best success, highlight areas to make their job easier or point out the pain points. We all have tasks we aren’t particularly fond of and highlighting the solution with the project helps them better understand. Engage the team members to have a stake in the project, its success, and as subject matter experts. Let them know you have trust in them to help evolve this process for change. This can spark a culture of change to encourage efficiency gains in your process. Take time to celebrate those changes and honor those who helped make them possible.

Reel it in! 

If you are managing a project you are going to have to learn some basic project management skills which will be talked about in the next 2 editions of the series. But here are a few of my favorites to help you stay on track. 

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

That’s right say it with me now, communication is key. Internal, external, and everything in between. It helped me to set up groups I wanted to communicate within Outlook: Project team(executives), Project team subject matter experts, and my user testing group. Make sure you are planning regular points of communication and even schedule them on the calendarto keep everyone on the same page. 

The 80/20 rule

You must abide by the rule solve for the 80% not the 20%. When managing a project we will never be able to solve everything in this instant. While in theory that would be great, always look for the largest area you can solve for. I would also recommend reviewing your specific data points. What does that 20% represent – it may only be a very small portion of what you do or even less than the 20%.

Expect the best and plan for the worst. Coming up with your plan for the whole project or even just the testing plan for your user acceptance phase is really important. Come up with a standard set that you can reuse that will cover all scenarios you normally process. 

Last but not least, have fun! Remember that the hard work and perseverance will get you to your end state that is better than what you are doing today. 

Game over

Once you are done with your project don’t forget to do a post-project review. Capture lessons learned, what went well, what you could have done better, and what you should do next time. That way you can look back on the project and put the lessons together.   

While these best practices or lessons learned may seem overwhelming, don’t worry. There are so many resources, and asking for help is always best. Time to start your next project! 


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