When you have been assigned to a human resource-related project, success requires managing the organizational change to a degree that you may not have experienced before. An “HR project” for the purpose of this article, is one that impacts the human resources of the organization—such as those projects that upgrade/replace systems used for employee pay, performance management, training, hiring and so on.
Don’t just interpret these as typical technology projects with expected business benefits. They are certainly that, but they also hit employees in critical areas like their bank accounts and overall satisfaction with their jobs. It hits managers’ ability to manage work teams and team productivity, a high priority in any enterprise wishing to stay afloat. Missteps or failures in these projects are high visibility, perhaps causing you concern about your assignment.
You’d rather be seen as a project manager who has mastered succeeding in projects such as these. To do so, you must understand the critical success factors associated with organizational change management. With the critical success factors in mind, you can appropriately monitor and properly focus the attention of your project team. A few examples will help illustrate how different HR projects generate different change control success factors.
Time Recording or Employee Payroll Systems
These projects affect worker pay, so it is obvious that many eyes will be watching for any problem whatsoever. Change management should be taken quite seriously. The organizational change management critical success factor in this case is communication to users.
● Tell employees about whatever change is happening that affects them. For example, include any change in pay period and frequency.
● Your message about “when” it will happen is especially important to sync up. The HR communication team will happily accept any date and tell the world, not knowing the chaos you may be facing to reach that date. Reduce your risk of communicating an incorrect date by working with that group and keeping in regular connection. You might try something like communicating far in advance that the change will occur in a particular quarter of the year. As you get closer to the end and have some comfort with an end date, you can communicate that. The HR department, employees, managers and the project team will thank you.
● Bear down on your team to get precision in this area. Think about scope, integration complexity, history of the organization to complete similar projects, interactions with any vendor providing services.
● Likewise, consider post-production problem response. Even if there are problems after the new or upgraded system is in production, plan ahead for fast, complete responses to close issues and correct any problems with warm customer service.
With this example, you can see the steps for any HR project. First, you identify how the project will impact the workforce. Next, you determine risks associated with that organizational change. Finally, you modify your work plan to mitigate those risks.
Put this information right into your project management plan. These organizational change risks can be identified early on for any HR project and used as an effective start for your planning. A short meeting with HR stakeholders will help you with identifying the impacts and determining the risks you must manage. If they have experience with these types of projects, you will be able to obtain high-quality information that will even improve your ability to modify your workplan to mitigate the organizational change risks.
Two additional examples will be covered in Part 2 to show how different HR projects generate different changes that lead to different risks.