Project, from the Latin proiectus. The Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ) defines project as "something new, something that has not yet been done in exactly the same way or in the same context. The degree of novelty or uniqueness can vary considerably from one project to another. For example, Project Apollo, whose goal was to send humans to the Moon and return them safely to Earth, was entirely new. Similarly, a contractor may have built several more or less similar buildings, but for different clients, in different locations, etc., and may have built a number of buildings for different clients, in different locations. Both of these examples are projects, but the first is subject to a much higher degree of uncertainty than the second, partly because it is more novel and has several meanings. »
Still according to the OIQ, a project is characterized according to three markers: (1) limited duration (a project is a transition, it is marked with a start date and an end date); (2) the presence of a client (a project always aims to satisfy entity X); (3) subject to constraints (a project must be delivered on time and within budget, while meeting the expected performance and quality objectives). This may seem simple, but then how do you explain the many failures?
A project is not a static beast, a project is first and foremost a set of coordinated activities, interacting with each other, and aimed at achieving a specific objective. The achievement of this objective must be achieved within the limits of the three markers described above. The first guideline presents the very nature of the project, the third corresponds to the technical component, while the second addresses the human component.
Since a project is a set of coordinated activities, it will be necessary for it to be carried out by a coordinator, a conductor. Without a guide, meeting deadlines, budgets and expectations would be hard to imagine.
Furthermore, since any project involves a change from an initial state to a targeted state, a change that will directly impact humans (influenced by the sponsor) being part of the equation, this change must be managed to facilitate the transformation.
Technique: the PMO pillar
There was a time when project management was considered an accessory, which is less and less true today, but is still seen, unfortunately. It is increasingly known and recognized that project management must be entrusted to professionals in the field, and not simply added to the daily tasks of one of the stakeholders in a project.
Whether the project in question is as complex as the Apollo project or apparently as simple as building a series of identical buildings, there will always be a need for project management.
But the greater the impact, the greater the degree of uncertainty or novelty,
the greater the input of the project management specialist.
Thus, for example, a simple project that would not impact on the entire operation of an organization might require light specialized coordination for only a few hours a week, while at the other end of the spectrum, the establishment of a Project Management Office might be required.
It is important, however, that such a responsibility be assigned to a specialist in the field.
Human: the CMO pillar
Even today, unfortunately, change management is too often neglected or its scope greatly overlooked because it is limited to training and communications. And yet. In fact, the main objective of change management is to manage resistance to change (which is natural and will always be present, to varying degrees depending on the stakeholders, the organizational culture, the scope or nature of the change, etc.).
To achieve this, the change management specialist works at
both the organizational and individual levels.
At the organizational level and in close collaboration with the project manager, the change management specialist prepares the change, manages the change and builds buy-in to the new state to ensure the sustainability of the change.
At an individual level, the change management specialist ensures that the need for change, the desire and the knowledge required for change are recognized, but also that new knowledge is reinforced in order to ensure not only the sustainability of the change, but also to maximize buy-in and the return on investment generated by the project.
Then, depending on the complexity or scale of the projects, some of them will again require lighter efforts in terms of change management, or even greater efforts by setting up a Change Management Office.
Again, it is important that such responsibility be assigned to a specialist in the field.
Models of collaboration or inclusion
While in most projects it is more appropriate (good practice) to assign project management and change management responsibilities to separate specialists, there may be occasions when the change management elements are assigned to the project manager or vice versa, especially on smaller projects. It goes without saying that the specialist's knowledge and skills are then duplicated and not just watered down.
Similarly, collaborative models may also vary, with the CMO sometimes reporting to the PDP or vice versa, depending on the nature of the project involved.
The luxury, cost or risk of omitting one of the two pillars
Investing in project management and change management can unfortunately sometimes seem like an extra expense (for a project that can be expensive to start with). In reality, however, these two complementary areas of expertise are the sine qua non for the success of any project.
A project delivered on time, within the agreed budget and with maximum buy-in and return on investment is a success, also financially.
A project that ends in failure and causes a dead loss, because of mismanagement of the technical or human component, will always be a financial fiasco and may even lead the company to its ruin.
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LUC LACHAPELLE B.A., M.A., M.B.S.I.
Certified PROSCI, SIX SIGMA
Director, Strategic consulting services