A phase-by-phase list of change activities

change leadership change practitioner project tools Oct 23, 2022

In my early years as a change practitioner, I dreaded project team meetings. Reviewing the tasks, status and issues seemed so repetitive. 

I also hated being "nagged" by the project manager on identifying specific deliverables and due dates for change activities. My attitude was, "This is an art. Due dates are too rigid. I can't promise you a date on when we'll be 'ready'."

What I've realized over the years is that having specific deliverables and dates within the project plan helps the rest of the team understand what we're doing to address people readiness. Every time a change deliverable gets brought up in a project team status meeting the team recognizes the actions being taken to prepare people.

It's also a moment to pulse-check how the team is feeling and what they're seeing and hearing from stakeholders, including their peers. 

With that said, I'm also not a fan of tracking every step in the overall project plan. The details--like draft, review, delivery of communications--I usually leave to my personal work plan. The overall project plan should have the "big rocks" on phase-level deliverables and recurring activities, such as the monthly distribution of communications.

Timing matters

The other aspect of project planning that I've fine-tuned over the years is aligning the change deliverables to the specific phases of the project plan. This helps other team members connect how their work supports the change. The two key roles I work most closely during projects:

  1. Project manager: Recurring communication updates to stakeholders and involvement at sponsorship reviews, such as Steering Committee meetings. 
  2. Testing lead: Identify the right stakeholders to lead and complete testing activities.

In my experience, it may take several months for these project partners to recognize the rhythm of how change activities sync up with theirs. But when it clicks, the project team expands its impact and works more efficiently.

 So what are the key dates for change deliverables in the project plan?

  • Strategic assessments and overall communication, stakeholder involvement (including testing), and training approaches should have a signoff by project leaders during the design/architect phase of the project.
  • Following the signoff of that deliverable, recurring communications or stakeholder involvement activities through the build/configure/test phases.
  • Go-live materials including communications, training and sustainment activities during the deployment phase (and post go-live stabilization period). There will be more activities and concrete timing in this part of the project. The dates matter, so this is the one time when the exception to track the steps in each activity may be worthwhile (adding dates for drafts, reviews, and delivery of materials). That helps others keep track of what will be needed from them as well.

The takeaway: Change doesn't happen in isolation. It is part of the overall project activities and aligns to the timeline and activities of other team members. Finding the happy middle in project tracking, however, will keep the focus on the big picture for people readiness.

Photo by Jason Goodman  

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