This post is the next installment of an ongoing series about areas of READINESS that should be addressed before you start a new project to ensure success. This visibility topic is a companion to the postings on project vision and objectives.
Key project start-up steps include clearly documenting the objectives, vision, and future state, using clean language. If you don’t know where you are going, you don’t know how to get there and you don’t know when you’ve arrived. Translating these into the project world, you need the target, a path and plan and then you need a way to measure progress, make corrections along the way and know when you have arrived.
Assuming that the objectives, vision and future state have been defined, documented and tested with representatives of those affected, they need to be shared with appropriate groups across the organization. There are multiple levels of groups and interest. The “core team” are those that are deeply involved in the change and perform the work to get it done. They are building the bus, to use a metaphor.
The next level includes directly affected parties as well as support groups and sponsors who may take lesser roles in doing hands-on work, but need to be informed. The most important people in this group are affected parties. These are people who may not perform change installation work, but who will be impacted once the change is in place. These will be people that ride that bus every day. They may need to change the way they perform their work, using new processes and/or systems or interact with the company in new ways, as customers.
Outside of these two groups, there are others at the company or in the community who may be less directly affected. Maybe they are providing some funding or resources, or they just need to be kept informed about what’s happening. You can further subdivide groups, but these are the most common segments.
Each of these groups needs to know about the project, with a particular level of detail, frequency and maybe even different delivery methods. Change Management practices encourage us to acknowledge that the people affected each undergo a change journey, from current state through transition to future state. If they do not go through that successfully, this impacts the ability of the organization to complete the change.
The first part of the individual journeys is “awareness” of the reasons for change and the change impacts. This is the first step to “getting them onboard”.
A question to ask, as you prepare for the change, is: “has the new project been socialized across your organization and with customers – everyone who needs to know?”
Without this awareness, people will not begin their journey. Adoption, sustainment, future needs for support or resources from elsewhere at the company will be at risk. This activity would also help uncover other projects that may be contemplated or in-process. These could cause direct conflicts with your project, such as having resources allocated elsewhere.
This communication also helps avoid more serious impacts upon employee engagement and even customer retention. Customers could miss new opportunities to engage with your company.