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Change: Do I Manage It or Control It?

The terms change control and change management are often heard in the project industry. Unfortunately, they are also used loosely and seem to be used interchangeably. It is important that we know the difference as they are truly separate facets and are both integral to project success.

Let’s start with basic definitions.

Change Control: Analyzing impacts to the project’s baseline scope, requirements, schedule, and budget; managing to them within acceptable thresholds of variance; and, when necessary, seeking approval to modify the baselines in order to deliver the project within the realm of reality.

Change Management: Applying processes, tools, and techniques to manage the people-side of change so that an enterprise can achieve the required business outcome of a project. Change management involves helping individuals successfully adopt new behaviors and mindsets so that they and the organization can successfully implement change within the business environment.

A project manager (and the business analyst, when it comes to product requirements) will use change control once the project baselines have been set and the project work is underway. Change control is important because projects rarely go according to plan. A vendor raises their prices, so we file a change control to increase the budget. The team underestimated the effort the work would require, so we file a change control to increase the budgeted hours and lengthen the schedule. The business environment demands additional functionality, so we file a change control to add the necessary new requirements, increase the budget, and lengthen the schedule.

Some project managers and business analysts will say that change control is a CYA tactic…cover your anatomical parts. Yes, it serves as a record so that you can say, “Hey, I had permission to change these baselines. See?!” But it’s primary purpose is to ensure that decisions are made by appropriate authorizing parties known as the Change Control Board (CCB), and that those decisions to change project baselines are made in the best interests of the project, the organization, and other work that must be done across a portfolio.

Change management, on the other hand, focuses on getting stakeholders to embrace the ways in which their lives will change as a result of the project’s implementation. Projects by their very nature are intended to change the way an organization operates as it introduces new products, processes, and systems. As a result of a project, stakeholders may have to learn new things, take on additional responsibilities, acquire or relinquish a role or an element of power, work with different people, or, in some cases, find a new position elsewhere. Some people love change; others detest it.
Telling someone to, “Suck it up, Buttercup! Change is happening!” does not help people embrace change. If people resist the changes that a project is intended to create, that project can develop the best thing since sliced bread, but people will not use it or will find ways to circumvent it. And an unused project outcomes or deliverable is a waste of both time and money.

Successful project managers acknowledge the need for change management and incorporate change management activities into their projects in order for their projects to deliver their intended strategic results. Successful business analysts are always on the lookout for communication, training, public relations, and other requirements that will assist impacted stakeholders in progressing through change as smoothly and with as positive an outlook as possible.

Now you know the difference between change control and change management. Are you addressing both of them within your current projects?

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Optimize Your Project Management Meetings

As a project manager, you will be responsible for facilitating meetings with your team members and other stakeholders. Meetings can be essential glue that holds your team and your project together. They are a time when stakeholders can come together to discuss progress and solve project roadblocks. But it is the project manager’s duty to ensure these meetings are organized and efficient or you may find that people will not bother to attend them. Here are some suggestions to optimize your project meetings.

Schedule Meetings in Advance
Schedule your meeting an appropriate time in advance. If your team is working on a large-scale project with many moving components, perhaps meetings need to be scheduled as far as a week in advance. If your team is working on a rapid-fire project, perhaps only a day will be necessary to schedule the meeting. Whatever time schedule you and your team are operating on, be sure to schedule your meetings appropriately. Scheduling in advance gives your team members time to prepare any materials or information they will be expected to provide at the meeting.

Set Your Meeting Agenda in Advance
Prior to your meeting, send out the meeting agenda to the participants. The agenda should include both the meeting topics and the expected time to be allotted to each topic. Sending the agenda in advance enables participants to prepare to present their ideas and perspectives at the meeting and gives participants the opportunity to review the agenda and request adjustments to it, if necessary.

Formatting Your Agenda:
1 Welcome and Intro – Welcome the meeting participants and thank them for their time and efforts. Quickly review the agenda and state the desired meeting outcome. This will focus everyone and reassure them that you have not changed the meeting’s intent.
2 Updates – Briefly touch on any follow-up items or action items that required attention from the last meeting. Discuss updates as they relate to the current project stage. Each participant should be prepared to briefly report on any updates within their field of responsibility.
3 Body of the Meeting – Discuss agenda items in an organized and efficient manner. Stay within the time limits originally allotted in the agenda. If off-topic discussions arise, make note of the topics and table them for a later meeting. Keeping the meeting on task and on schedule will keep participants engaged and demonstrate that you respect and appreciate their time. As the meeting proceeds, note decisions, action items, and results that the group produces. After all, this is why you are meeting in the first place!
4 Action Items – Prior to concluding the meeting, review the project outcomes, including the decisions, action items, and outcomes that the group produced. Be specific. Ensure that each action item is assigned to a specific participant and is assigned a set a deadline. Establish a reporting procedure so that you remain in the loop on action item progress and completion.
5 Other Business – Open this section of the meeting only if time remains of the originally allotted meeting schedule. At this point, you may come back to those off-topic ideas that came up throughout the meeting, or you may open the discussion to any participants who may have other items or ideas they would like to discuss while the group is all together.

Note Taking During the Meeting
Insist that the parties included in your meetings take notes by hand rather than electronically. When people type their notes in real-time, what will often happen is they end up dictating the entire meeting, rather than placing emphasis on only the important details. You may opt to take a single set of notes throughout the meeting, to be shared out to the participants afterwards. If this is the case, try to rotate the responsibility of note-taking to whoever is least involved in the current agenda item. For instance, if Jerry’s area of expertise is Agenda Item Two, perhaps have him take notes during the discussion on Agenda Item One. And if Maria’s area of expertise is on Agenda Item One, have her take notes on Agenda Item Two. Keep your experts engaged in their respective fields as discussed throughout the meeting, and rotate the note taking responsibilities to ensure that the proper parties may remain engaged at the proper times throughout the meeting.

Meeting Follow-Up
Be sure to distribute the meeting minutes to participants and other interested parties who may not have been in attendance at the meeting. You may also choose to post them in an accessible electronic location. Follow up with team members who were assigned action items and, as your schedule allows, make yourself available to individuals and small group problem solving sessions to assist them in overcoming obstacles or facilitating work that may require assistance.

Remember, as the project manager, you are responsible for team meetings. Meetings can be a source of strength for your team, or a source of contention. As long as you respect your team members’ time, keep your meetings organized and on task, and provide benefit that would otherwise be lacking, your meetings will be an invaluable resource to your project team.

Enroll in Cygnet Leadership Solutions’ workshop titled “Facilitating Effective Meetings for Productive Outcomes,” to gain practical experience in facilitation skills and proven meeting tools and techniques.

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New Year! New Look!

You may notice that we have rebranded! As of January 1, 2014, Baldus Consulting, LLC is now Cygnet Leadership Solutions.

Refreshing, renewing, and regrouping are vital to moving forward successfully, and the New Year is an obvious time to figure out what went well in the past and what we can do better in the future. For those of us who are immersed in project management, we call that “leveraging lessons learned!”

As we closed out 2013 and strategized our future, our key question was: How can we better serve you, our customer and partner? We settled on two areas:

• Improved customer service
• Broader, deeper product offerings

To better serve your needs, we have refreshed our internal organization. Our newly appointed Business Development Managers will ensure that your questions are answered immediately, solutions are tailored specifically to your needs, and deliveries on your behalf are smooth and successful. This enables Admin Guy to focus on the daily business operations and allows me to focus on longer-term objectives, in addition to ensuring our product offerings are pertinent and engaging. We have also sought out additional workshop facilitators that can make workshop concepts come alive for our participants.

We have broadened our offerings with forays into creative thinking, meeting management, and program and portfolio management while refreshing our established and more popular workshops such as Project Management Fundamentals. Also, see the newly popular Mastering the Human Dynamic! We are also investigating one-hour online offerings. Let us know what topics would be of interest by leaving a comment!

All of these changes culminated in our rebranding effort. It was time the company came into its own. Although we are saying goodbye to the name Baldus Consulting, LLC, we will carry forward with the same focus on quality training and delivery that we have had in the past. Company ownership has not changed. I will continue to serve as President and will deliver in the classroom at your request and as my schedule allows. In lieu of my presence in the classroom, please know that I have personally ensured that each of our facilitators are the best of the best…some better than myself!

With that, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Nora Roberts: ”
If you don’t step forward you’ll always be in the same place.”

We are eager to step forward with you in 2014!

All the best,

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Cygnet Leadership Solutions

At Cygnet Leadership Solutions, we assist businesses and individuals like you in getting things done by doing the right projects well. Whether you are a project-focused organization or just need a little guidance in how to tackle what needs to be done, we can partner with you to build skills to make it happen.

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