(And How To Manage Them)
An enterprise project management implementation means big changes for a company. You might not have had a Project Management Office (PMO) before. Even if you did, it may not have had such far-reaching powers or access to the vast amount of data that is now available. The tools you are using to manage projects (and people) have changed.
And not everyone likes change.
We have a lot of experience in managing the changes that come with an EPM project and we’ve met a lot of different types of people in the course of doing so. Many of them are positive, supportive stakeholders who understand the value of what you are trying to do. But some of them will be difficult, disruptive and resistant to change. How you handle these people can mean the difference between a smooth, hassle-free project and one that turns you prematurely grey! Here’s our guide to the different personalities that you could meet on your EPM implementation journey.
Let’s get this one out the way first. Mr Supportive loves the idea of enterprise project management tools and the control and standardization that they bring. The concept of having more data to manage with and better project results in the end couldn’t be more attractive. He is falling over himself to help your project and make the changes required for it to be a success.
The majority of your stakeholders will be supportive, although they might not be quite so gushing about it! Supportive stakeholders understand the project’s goals and while they might not be comfortable personally with changes to their working practices they appreciate that it will be good for everyone in the end.
Manage by: Keeping them informed and thanking them for their involvement.
Ms Resist is a different story. She doesn’t want to change and doesn’t see why she should. The old ways of working have been perfectly adequate in the past so moving to new ways of working just seems like extra, unnecessary work. She will do everything she can to resist the change to an enterprise system including missing meetings, not responding to emails, failing to attend training and any other techniques she can to avoid having to engage with the project.
People who are resistant to change might not realize that this is what they are doing. If you asked them outright, they may tell you that they support your initiatives, but their actions show you otherwise.
Manage by: Perseverance. This change is happening so keep trying to convince them of the benefits and why change is worthwhile.
Mrs Sceptic understands what you are doing and isn’t particularly resistant: she simply feels that the benefits won’t be there and “you’ll see.” She has been through change initiatives in the past and has come to the conclusion that nothing much results from them.
Sceptics won’t block the project or go out of their way to support it. You do have to be careful though about them spreading sceptical ideas that might undermine your communication strategies. These tend to be experienced team members who have seen a variety of different management approaches and don’t understand that this will be different.
Manage by: Showing them results. This might have to wait until your first release but you could also achieve this with demos, case studies or site visits to other companies that have done what you want to do and see the benefits.
Mr Ignorant doesn’t know what is going on. He is busy managing his project and is completely disconnected from the wider business picture. He doesn’t much care about it either and sees little value in reading communications. The trouble is, he’ll be the first to complain when the new system comes in and he “didn’t know anything about it.”
Ignorance – wilful or otherwise – is the enemy of the successful project! You are more likely to get a good result if you have buy in from all stakeholders, which means they have to know about the project and engage with it.
Manage by: Communication. Identify the stakeholders who are unaware or disinterested in your project and actively seek them out. Communicate in a variety of formats.
Miss Lalala is fully aware that the project is happening but hopeful that if she ignores it, it will go away. It is, after all, just another management fad. By the time the project team realize that it’s not going to happen, she’ll be justifying her position and saying that she always knew the project wasn’t going to get off the ground – just like lots of other projects that have failed in the business before they even started.
The trouble for her is that well-managed EPM projects have no reason to fail and are much more likely to be a success with the right executive support. People who take this approach have a wakeup call coming.
Manage by: Showing progress towards achieving the deliverables. Incremental delivery can help. This will convince people that the project is moving ahead and will succeed.
We’ve met all these people and found strategies for dealing with them and bringing them on board to ensure a successful delivery. We hope you can do the same!