Contextual Awareness Can Improve Project Change Management

Understanding the context of changes associated with a project is vitally important in helping your stakeholders handle change better. But the inclusion of context in your change management strategy doesn’t just benefit your end users—it can be a valuable element for your project team, too.

Deliver the right support

Some end users may see big changes in their day-to-day processes or the types of tools they use to execute tasks. Alternatively, other groups might experience only minor adjustments to how they do their work. Context allows you to understand which stakeholders would benefit from training sessions on new technologies that will soon be part of their daily processes, for example, and which would instead find value in access to a knowledge base that covers updated or expanded functionalities within a tool they already know well.

Customize your messaging to suit stakeholders’ needs

Knowing the context around changes that are coming gives your team the insight to tailor your communication and engagement strategies to meet the specific needs of end users. Departments that will experience significant changes during the project’s lifecycle may need to develop a different level of readiness and acceptance than those whose workflows will receive only light tweaks. Identifying where changes will be the most dramatic enables you to interact with each stakeholder group in a way that gives them the support they need without inundating them with irrelevant messaging.

Tailor end user surveys and other feedback loops

It’s important to gather stakeholders’ feedback during a project’s active phase as well as after the initiative is complete. By applying context to the changes each group is experiencing as part of the effort, you can ask specific questions along the way about how well disruptions are managed and minimized, or if they feel the support resources offered to them are relevant and valuable. The insights you receive back can inform your change management strategy to ensure you continuously improve your approach and deliver the best possible experience for stakeholders.

Conduct a more thorough and effective stakeholder analysis

Context helps to build your understanding of your true stakeholder base. In some cases, there may be individuals or groups who will feel the effects of the project’s changes but who initially appear to be outside the initiative’s expected scope. A deep dive into the context around large-scale changes could uncover stakeholders who aren’t currently involved in project planning or execution, but who would benefit from messaging to help them be better prepared for adjustments that will happen adjacent to their workflows as part of the overall initiative.

Develop a more proactive approach to change management

Context gives your team a view into ways you can better manage potential challenges that arise during the change management process. You may choose to conduct impact assessments in areas of concern to gain insight into where and how changes are likely to have significant effects. Understanding this context can point your team toward opportunities to deliver support and other resources earlier in the project lifecycle. You may also use impact assessment results to spot trends around common concerns or requests, enabling you to proactively address them in future projects.

It’s often difficult for organizations to step back and assess the context around changes that are happening because of project activities. Time pressures and internal operational barriers can hinder communications and complicate your efforts to develop contextual awareness. A partnership with a neutral third party, such as an experienced project management consultancy, can be valuable in moving beyond these roadblocks and connecting with the information and insights you need to improve your change management processes.

PMAlliance, Inc uses a team of highly experienced and certified professionals to provide project management consultingproject management training and project portfolio management.

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