In modern times, change is almost inevitable. These sentiments have been greatly attributed to the fact that there has been continuous change in technological advancement, which keeps on changing from time to time. For an organization that is focusing on keeping their market share or improve on the market share, they cannot ignore the power of change. Research has shown that despite the implementation of new products in the market, failure has still persisted in some fields. The question that has persisted in many of the managers’ lips is, where is the problem? To be able to respond to that question comprehensively, the researcher would like to argue that ineffective/ poor change management has been the major driving force towards failures in project management.
In this essay, the researcher will divide the essay into six identifiable sections that have been the major contributors to the failure in successful implementation of new projects. The researcher will start by giving an overview of the problem faced during project management that will be followed by addressing change management and time factor. From time factor, the researcher will then address project customization with reference to change management.
This will then be followed by change management and communication factor. From there, the will be discussion concerning change management and successful project completion, which will lead to the section on change management and leadership factor. The culmination of the paper will address change management and corporate culture. Based on the arguments, a conclusion will be drawn in summary of the arguments. Please follow through as the researcher unveils the hidden effects that change management has on project management with applicable example given for clearer explanation as well as demonstration of the magnitude of its impact.
In the past, there have been recorded high numbers of projects that have failed to meet the standards set for then to be termed as successful. According to a report by Standish Group in the year 1994, it was noted that, of all the IT projects that had been done, only 16 % were successful while the rest failed miserably (Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009). The failure was due to the fact that most of the projects did not meet / deliver the functionality that were expected of the projects, or the projects could not be completed in the designated timeframe or there was over expenditure from the budgetary allocation (Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009).
As of their research in the year 2006, there was noted an improvement since there was a recorded 35 % success rate of all the IT projects done (Rubinstein 2007; Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009). In the same year, a survey by Sauer et al. (2007; Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009), there was a record 67 % success rate recorded following an interview of some 400 Project Managers. One thing is clear that failure still persists and remains an issue that needs addressing.
Change Management and Time Factor
In any project management, time factor is of great essence. This is because the project must be restricted to a specific timeframe. Failure to adhere/ honor this time will lead to diverse consequences. When change management is being implemented within the running of a project or in the organization, time is of essence. Take for example, an organization is upgrading its decades old computer software system for which most, if not all, the employees were used to, if time allocated for informing training and implementing the system is not well managed, there is a likelihood of failure (Griffith-Cooper and King 2007, p. 17).
A good example is the launch of Microsoft’s® Vista Operating System. The coming of the operating system was termed as revolutionary with the highest security ever built as at that time. However, the change in implementation time brought down customer anticipation as the organization continuously delayed its release leading to poor profitability.
When the project is being implemented, if there is no proper planning on the implementation process such that instead of having seamless integration and transition of the new system, then there is bound to be great resistance especially from employees who have used the old system for a long time (Simpson and Rayner 2011, p. 59 +). This is not just applicable to a new system only but also to the upgrade from one platform to another too (Simpson and Rayner 2011, p. 59).
Change Management and Project Customization
According to Singh, Keil and Kasi (2009), when there lacks an appropriately designed change management strategy, there is a lethal project development impact that is experienced during project management. The greatest effect of this hit is mainly felt in the strategic management arena as well as the operations arena (Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009). Goodman (2006) argues that while considering change management, provision of options to users to customize their input requirements especially for specific variances poses a great threat during product development as some malicious employees can invest in creating bugs with or without their knowledge thus affecting part or the entire system.
For example, in the year 2009, Facebook® owners decided to create features that would enable people to create their own applications and upload them on their or some specific Facebook pages. In as much as they tried to let people demonstrate their creativity, it has been seen that social networking viruses and cyber attacks have been rampant since people access and misuse this avenue with apparently no one to ask them.
There are other threats that are posed by the use of change management in project management is having changes in scope that is not controlled which leads to an increase in overall cost which is greatly influenced by uncontrolled changes as far as scheduling is concerned (Simpson and Rayner 2011, p. 59 +).
Change Management and Communication Factor
Communication is a vital part of project management. Both vertical as well as horizontal communication plays an important role in the success of a project. In Burns (2005), it is noted that while giving a speech by the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King said that he had a dream, and not that he had a strategic plan (p. 93) (King 1963). The writer continues to argue that while strategic plan is good, it is just a set of compliance rules and more paperwork unlike the energy that accompanies a dream (p. 93). During the implementation of a product at whatever phase, it is good to note that if the vision of the product is not well communicated, despite the urge to make good changes, the changes may be restricted by lack of adequate idea/ information (Griffith-Cooper and King 2007, p. 17).
But then, how beneficial is communication? During the implementation of a project, different people have different ideas and if the ideas are not harnessed, the organization may end up spending more money on something that an employee knows may cost less (Simpson and Rayner 2011). If those undertaking the project are separated from each other geographically, it is possible to establish communication via video conferencing. Employees and employers have different viewpoints and there is need to have a feedback channel established. If there is no communication channel that is put in place, or, despite airing their grievances or ideas, the employees perceive that their needs and views are not honored, then it means that there is a big problem as the employees will become demoralized and this will be reflected on their performance (Simpson and Rayner 2011).
Change Management and successful Project Completion
The success of a project is determined by timely completion and delivery, comprehensive coverage of all the required features that are fully functional within the stipulated budget as well as meeting the customer expectations (Keil and Robey 2001; Keil et al. 2000; Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009). An old English saying states that one should never count the chicks before they hatch. During change management, there is a likelihood of some project managers declaring the completion of a project when a lot is yet to be done (Griffith-Cooper and King 2007, p. 17).
For example, when dealing with an Information Technology project, if the system design is complete, documentation is as important as the entire system and should be incorporated within the system’ s time frame to ensure that system debugging and redesign is made easier. Burns adds to the same thought claiming that commitment, accountability as well as structural settings plays a major role in ensuring the success of a project by implementing an effective strategic plan.
According to this researcher, a project is termed as having been completed successfully if the necessary changes in the system have been made.
Change Management and Leadership Factor
Project management heavily involves the services of leaders in various disciplines. For example there is need to have a Human Resource Manager to ensure the right people are employed in the organization. There is need to have a finance officer who deals with financing of the project and budget preparation just to mention but a few. Despite the fact that leaders are not angels, it is important that there be professional and qualified leaders and managers entrusted with leadership positions during project management and change management. According to Common Causes of Project Failure (2005; Simpson and Rayner 2011), most of the leaders and senior management do not like to own the projects, which lead to massive failure of project as reported by Rubinstein (2007; Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009), Sauer et al. (2007; Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009)
At times, in spite of a dire need for change, there lacks people with necessary experiences in related fields leading to employees being entrusted with tasks that they know not how to handle. During project management, if this becomes the case, the project is bound to fail (Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009). According to Goodman (2006), it is noted that when it comes to leadership and decision-making, it involves changes especially when deciding the way forward in the project development.
While many of the project managers think and behave in a manner suggesting that change management is a factor that should be dealt with outside project management, the truth is that change management is as part of project management as the rest of the projects’ subsets that must be dealt with from time to time (Goodman 2006). As an example, the decision on the pricing is both part of change management process as well as project management process and the two cannot be separated hence they affect each other in some way.
Change Management and Corporate Culture
Organization culture is quite important in the running of the organization. This is so because it makes the employees as well as the customers to identify with the running of the organization as well as the employees knowing how to carry themselves while in the workplace environment (Singh, Keil and Kasi 2009). Simpson and Rayner (2011) note that there exists a deep gap between organization’s priorities and project management (Simpson and Rayner 2011).
This is mainly due to the fact that most organizations’ culture is very stiff especially when the term change is mentioned. Most organizations are quite bureaucratic to the letter leaving little room for flexibility (Goodman 2006). Singh, Keil and Kasi (2009) argues that it becomes a very difficult task to try to change the way in which people are used to conducting their day-to-day business within a given organization. This means that change resistance is a more likely experience, which adversely affects project management.
Conclusion and Recommendation
In conclusion, it is clear that there have been a lot of problems that has persisted as far as project management are concerned in light of change management. From the early 1990s, it is noted there has been a gradual increase in success rate from 16 % to 35 % to 67 %, which shows a substantial improvement. However it is good to note that change management has a big role to play as far as project management success is concerned. For example, it is seen that time management is of essence since during change management; time allocated for different tasks will determine how acceptable the product is to those who intend to use it.
In addition to time factor, there has also been consideration of project customization, communication of the project vision, successful project completion, leadership factor as well as corporate culture. Based on this research, it is evident that change management does to a great extent, upon wrong application, have deep effects to project management. With this understanding, the researcher can then state categorically that due to improper application of change management, the failure experienced by project management team has roots in change management. If success has to be attained in project management, there has to be synchronization of change management and project management such that the processes are coupled together from inception to final project delivery. In addition to this, it should be noted that good project management calls for increased efficiency and effectiveness is subtle in the long run.