Change Management

In a meeting with a former practice leader of an advisory consulting firm (now one of the remaining top 5) we eneded up talking about change management.

I really liked his straightforward viewpoint on what to do when the landscape of a project changes.  Here are the 4 methods he talked about in dealing with things:

  1. Blow the whistle – stop everything and tell the client that things have changed and thus the project scope, success etc are at risk.  In our discussion we both found this very adversarial and not part of good communication.  I do think that sometimes this is necessary if the proper attention is not being given.
  2. Ignore it – This builds on the premise that it can be straightened out in the end.  This one can be successful depending on the type of work, people doing the work and the relationship.  But I do not subscribe to this.  This means that the client and the vendorare not communicating.  Even if there is no material change in the scope, we need to keep open communciation to facilitate expectation matching.
  3. Alert and Follow – in this method, you alert the client and say you will follow the change and keep them posted on the impact.  This one is very collegial and allows everyone to share in the development of the outcome.  It is predicated on mutual trust that no-one will be left out to hang as the change is resolved.
  4. Engineering Method – In this method, communication is made in the form of a change order with both sides signing off before the change is initiated into the scope of the agreement. This is predominant in software development as the change in scope needs to be captured, but this does often create an adversarial position.

What I liked most about the conversation was deciding how to best interact with your clients ahead of time in a productive manner.  I believe in our business of software development option 4 is a necessity, but leveraging or mixing it with option 3 allows both vendor and client to act together and ultimately we are not successfull no matter what anyone says if we do not deliver what the client needs – and everyone knows that can change as we progress through a project.

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