Manage the Project
The dynamics of any change are such that someone needs to focus on it and `mother' it. Some of the key issues are:
1. Objectives and Terms of Reference
An experienced project manager's worst nightmare is unclear or changing objectives - `moving goalposts'. Put in time and effort on getting these clear, even if senior managers are reluctant to do so - they often want to keep their options open.
2. Plan the Phases
All projects progress through phases. Different phases require different types of work, different people, and different management styles. The ends of each phase make natural `break and review' points. Each phase tends to extend itself, eating into the time allowed. Try in the early stages to get broad milestones agreed for each phase, giving people the `phase-ends' as their target dates. Then chase to keep them to them.
3. Set-up a Transition Organisation
Someone must be responsible for the change. Someone needs to develop an implementation strategy and plans, provide and manage resources (cash, people), and resolve blockages when they occur. In some cases a Transition Manager (project manager) and perhaps a team will be needed. In other cases, the change can be broken down and the parts given to the normal line managers. Whichever, it has to be organised.
As soon as you are able to, plan the activities in more detail using a `Gantt Chart' as below. This will highlight the critical activities (those where slippage will delay the project), show the interrelationships, and be a very useful communications aid. Then Progress-Chase. However much time is spent on the design of the change, during implementation it needs amending and adapting.
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Organisations abound with rumours when changes are underway. You want to make sure the rumours are `your rumours'. Communicate continuously to ensure people are clear about: - where we are going and why, - what is expected of them. At the start, establish who is affected and what the impact will be. Then use various channels, particularly the line hierarchy, but also newsheets etc.
6. Keep in Touch - Get Feedback
If it can go wrong, it will. Put extra effort into keeping in touch with what is happening and how people feel - don't just rely on traditional approaches such as the line hierarchy. Use formal methods (perhaps surveys, focus groups, interviews), informal ones (canteen culture), and where possible participation through working groups.