The Real Change Pitfalls – Part III: Resource Management

Just a few days ago I published the first two part of my series on the real Change Pitfalls. In the third part I would like to focus on Resource Management as another major topic causing trouble when it comes to Change

Again, please bear Kotter’s Eight in mind, as failing Resource Management is clearly part of the set of items:

  • Not establishing a great enough sense of urgency
  • Not creating a powerful enough guiding coalition
  • Lacking a vision
  • Under-communicating the vision by a factor of ten
  • Not removing obstacles to the new vision
  • Not systematically planning for–or creating–short term wins
  • Declaring victory too soon
  • Not anchoring changes in the corporation’s culture

Starting Part III – Resource Management

Reason #5: Work required of Subject Matter Experts is not accurately estimated

We see two key issues here. The first is what we call “project fatigue.” Some organizations tend to repeatedly call on the same individuals to be engaged in multiple initiatives or projects; this is especially true when the individual is a specialized subject matter expert and the organization lacks deep bench strength in that area. In this scenario, these subject matter experts are expected to do their “day jobs” while also participating in new projects. Over time, burning the candle at both ends leads to project fatigue, which may escalate to general burnout. When this occurs, even high-performing employees who were once fully engaged and willing to help become disengaged and resistant to additional responsibilities. The second key issue: how to effectively leverage subject matter experts while engaging with external contractors during a project.

Imagine the following situation: A healthcare organization was preparing for an ERP implementation. Multiple external resource partners were engaged to provide strategy leadership, technical expertise and support for the implementation, including organizational Change management support. The organization’s internal project team was sizeable, including business directors/ process owners and their direct reports who served as subject matter experts. At project launch, there seemed to be an assumption among the client’s internal team that—especially given the scale of the external resources engaged on the project—the work effort required of them would be manageable, even on top of their “regular” work duties.

Where is the pitfall: In reality, Technology implementations require huge commitments of time and attention from business directors, process owners and subject matter experts, as only they know the business, own the processes, and understand the needs of the end-users. The same individuals are not only “on the hook” for approving technical aspects of the project, but also for providing content for Change management messaging, reviewing and approving training materials, and perhaps leading end-user training. With so much decision-making being funneled through a small team of people, bottlenecks and backlogs are common, resulting in delays for obtaining information and/or deliverables and impacting downstream activities. Days filled with back-to-back meetings leave insufficient time for thoughtful review, feedback and creative problem-solving. Deadlines are missed as the real work effort far exceeds initial expectations.

Reason #6: Meetings are not managed for optimal results

Like it or not, in business, meetings are all but essential. And when Changes are being implemented, meetings seem to increase exponentially in both frequency and duration. Employees engaged in enterprise Change initiatives may find themselves in back-to-back meetings, leaving little time to respond to project-related requests for information or review— creating Bottlenecks and slowing the project’s momentum. The sheer number of meetings can make it difficult for project leaders to prepare for, facilitate and follow-up. It may seem that there’s not enough time to stop and critically assess and rationalize the value of these meetings, so the meeting madness simply continues, gobbling up participants’ time and energy

Reason #7: Required resources are underestimated 

The larger the project, the more difficult it is to accurately gauge the resources—money, time, people—that will be required for successful delivery. It’s only when allocated resources begin to run short that project managers realize they’ve underestimated what it will actually take to deliver the project. At that point, the overall health of the project may experience new risks, including:

  1. Employees who are alredy streched beyond Capacity can not operate indefinitely at that level
  2. Ideal choice for additional resources may not be available on short notice requiring the project to settle for second choice
  3. Overall project scope may have to be scaled back due to funding shortfall

Reason #8: Project teams and schedules are not flexible 

As noted earlier, projects rarely go according to plan; it’s critical that those involved in the project to be prepared to adapt. It’s not unusual, however, for project teams to resist changes in project meeting cycles, reporting protocols, or even the inclusion of new stakeholders into project routines. Tey cling tightly to the original project plan, governance routines and protocols instead of fexing to accommodate a new reality. Tis resistance to slowing down to check and potentially alter the team’s course is ofen driven by rigid schedules and the commitment of a few, highly infuential project team members (e.g., project sponsor, project management ofce, etc.). Without their fexibility, the project will, by default, continue on its set path.

Directly go to part 4 here!


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