Best Practices in Project Management – After the Launch

Best Practices in Project Management – After the Launch

You may have poured the champagne and toasted your new project launch, but that doesn’t mean the project management process is finished. Celebration is certainly appropriate at this point. But don’t forget to follow up the festivities with a thoughtful and thorough review.

Experienced project managers are familiar with the impulse to move on to the next assignment when a project is completed. Stakeholders may see a project management review as unnecessary or low-impact. As a result, the review may be done hastily or not at all. In fact, an effective post-mortem will have tremendous impact on the organization’s ability to improve. Project management is a process of continuous learnng and modification. A
fundamental understanding of your success factors and the bumps in the road that may have compromised the project is essential to making better decisions the next time around. It’s the difference between doing the same thing that led you astray before, and taking a more effective path when you’re confronted with a similar decision.

It’s almost as bad to conduct a project management review and then file the results away, never to be seen again, or hand the results over to the project manager with no follow-up action plan. Effective project management depends on gathering information and putting that information to use.
Work with your project manager on the following steps to get the greatest benefit from your project management review:

Step 1: Gather input

Be sure to conduct a 360-degree review, gathering input from all affected parties in the organization. Talk to the software developers, project managers, stakeholders, and subject matter experts, as well as end users and those responsible for communication and change management. Ask for their perspective on what went right and what went wrong in the project management process.

Step 2: Assign responsibility and create individual action items

Were there problems in development, project management, or communication? What will the responsible parties do differently next time? The purpose is not to assign blame, but to improve. Look to the best practitioners of after-action reporting: the U.S. military. Military leaders review and prepare a factual account of what went right and wrong, and then integrate the results into future strategy and training. They understand full well that this follow-up can literally be a matter of life and death. Lives may not hang in the balance at your company, but effective project management review can certainly affect employees, customers, and investors.

Step 3: Share information

After individual action plans are established, follow up to make sure the knowledge and plans are communicated to everyone involved. Your best efforts won’t stick unless information is driven down to the grass-roots level. See that individual project management information becomes tribal knowledge.

Step 4: Review periodically

Make sure that the fixes were implemented and that they really worked. Keep following up as the project becomes standard practice. By all means, celebrate the completion of your project. But as you’re celebrating, keep in mind that the opportunity to review and improve is never really done.

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Successful Change Management – Communicating Process Change

Successful Change Management – Communicating Process Change

Change management can be a difficult process for even the most seasoned leader. Executives rise to positions of authority by solving problems, and their approach to change management may reflect that impulse: identify a solution to a given problem, assemble the staff, and share plans for the new process, emphasizing bottom-line benefits. While this is a logical plan of attack, it may not account for the many human concerns that come into play when significant change is at hand.

There is a better way to approach change management, and it doesn’t involve ordering copies of “Who Moved My Cheese?” for all employees. Effective communication will help you promote change more effectively and keep pain to a minimum. Key points to consider when contemplating change management include:

Communicate early and often: Team members focused on their day-to-day responsibilities may not be aware of a problem that is apparent to management, or may simply accept it as part of the status quo. In such cases, solutions often appear to be change for the sake of change. By socializing the existence of the problem and soliciting ideas and feedback from those who will be affected, management will ensure that the team understands the need for action and is invested in decision-making. It may be especially valuable to bring in a skilled change management consultant who can address issues from an unbiased perspective and ask critical questions that employees may prefer to sidestep.

Communicate with your ears: Once the decision has been made and communicated, company leaders are much more likely to turn change opponents into proponents if they actively listen and respond to the concerns of those most impacted. Two-way discussion and communication are essential ingredients of successful change management.

Communicate the big picture: When a change must be made, it may not be feasible or appropriate to involve everyone in the necessary decisions. In such situations, effective change management depends on clearly explaining why the decision is being made and what impact it will have. Team members are concerned with customer experience, product quality, and employee satisfaction as well as the bottom line. That means leadership must address the impacts on all areas of the company. Presenting the effects of the change honestly and as positively as possible will help team members understand how the change impacts the company as a whole. In large organizations, members of one work group frequently do not understand how their activities relate to others. Seeing the big picture will help them become active change management participants.

Communicate the little picture:
Employees are more likely to embrace and contribute to successful change management if they receive honest information about the direct impact the changes will have on their activities, work relationships and pocketbooks.

In the digital age, our paradigms are shifted, our cheese moved, and our concept of reality altered on a daily
basis by relentless technological, societal, and business change. This can be overwhelming, and even the most
dedicated employee may wonder whether he or she really needs to adapt to every disruption that comes along. Truly
successful change management requires that companies help employees and customers understand change, accept
it and thrive in today’s dynamic business environment.

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Creating Competitive Advantage – Business Process Automation: More Bang for the Buck

Creating Competitive Advantage – Business Process Automation: More Bang for the Buck

In the never-ending pursuit of productivity, process automation is often an appealing solution for a business department or company division seeking greater efficiency and lower expenses. The ideal approach to the problem is often software that addresses the user’s unique issues, ensuring better fit, smoother deployment and easier adoption. But paradoxically, organizations in greatest need of such a solution may not have the budget for the process automation tools that will make the biggest impact, or have a culture that embraces change.

A smart process automation consultant can help you spread the cost, share the benefits, and become a company hero by extending the use of your department’s software to other user groups. After all, the same process automation tools can most likely support a variety of related processes.

Tools used to route and dispatch the service workforce can also be used for a sales force, often with just a minor tweak. For example, consider the large telecommunications company whose non-pay disconnect group needed help. This team cut off service at the utility pole for customers whose accounts were in arrears. They operated apart from normal field operations functions as well as the field audit group, which detected illegal connections and theft of service. But on examination, a savvy process automation consultant determined that the procedures followed by these three departments had a great deal in common, and that they both shared key elements with activities of the “feet on the street” sales team.

The new process automation tool designed for the field service department worked very well for the disconnect team and the field audit folks. Joining with the sales team, all three groups became a powerful part of the company’s sales force and drove out the cost of redundant systems. Instead of simply cutting off service at the utility pole for non-paying customers, the team began calling on these customers to offer them the opportunity to settle accounts and keep their service. The tap audit team likewise turned service thieves into honest, paying customers. Service technicians earned sales commissions, the CFO was ecstatic, and the department head who initiated the process automation received kudos from all quarters.

Although distinct from process automation, business intelligence software offers another attractive opportunity to spread the wealth – and costs – among multiple departments. This takes very little salesmanship, as staff members notice that their colleagues in the newly BI-empowered department suddenly have valuable data, and are no longer griping about reports that are out of date on delivery. The interest generated by water-cooler chat can easily lead to BI tools that benefit the entire organization.

Sharing process automation tools among work groups inevitably yields another valuable benefit: as information is shared, communication grows between user groups. As a result, departmental silos that may have developed over time begin to dissolve, leading to a more integrated, mission-focused organization.

An experienced process automation advisor can help you uncover opportunities within your organization to extend custom software applications. It’s just a matter of adopting a broad perspective, rallying support for a change to intercompany corporative processes and then preparing for applause.

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