Blog for APMG International: Implementing change - why is it still so hard?
You've supported your staff to attend an accredited training course on programme, project, or change management and successfully obtained their practitioner level qualifications. Implementing change in your organisation should now be easy, yes?
Well… unfortunately, evidence suggests that the answer is no. Despite the popularity of training courses and accreditations available in programme, project, and change management, organisations in general find it difficult to implement change initiatives effectively. Projects are often delivered late (or not at all) and often with significant cost overruns. Those projects which are delivered 'successfully', in other words they have delivered their scope within time, cost and quality constraints, often do not deliver their promised improvements. New systems gather dust on the shelf and are not used effectively by the people who would gain benefits from them.
One reason, we believe, for this, is that the approach used by many accredited training courses focuses only on helping individuals gain their certification and not on advising them on how to apply the frameworks effectively within their organisation. As a result, these courses tend to benefit individuals, enhancing their career prospects, instead of helping organisations improve their programme, project and change capabilities. Moreover, there are many different accreditations and training courses available. They use different terms for the same things or, conversely, use the same terms to mean different things. This is confusing and can make it difficult for organisations to achieve the improvements they expect from the use of structured frameworks. Thus, while we have a high proportion of qualified practitioner individuals, organisations still find it difficult to achieve the full benefits from their change initiatives.
What can help to change this? We propose that, as well as sending individuals to accredited training courses, organisations should develop a consistent corporate approach to programme, project and change management. This approach should use a common language and set of standard operating procedures, based on good practice and be tailored to the organisations’ specific needs. Taking a consistent approach to delivering all change initiatives will support the organisation to achieve a higher level of programme and project management maturity. In turn, this will help to lower the costs of project delivery and to improve rates of success, ensuring that outputs delivered by projects are used by the business to achieve real, lasting benefits. As an additional benefit, lessons learned from one area can be easily shared with another, reducing the duplications and improving the performance of the organisation more generally.
Sue Taylor: PPM Consultant, Trainer and Author
Rajiv Khanna: PPM Mentor and Coach, Lead Trainer