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The Pain of Project Management Culture Change: Excuses or Roadblocks
By Ty Kiisel

Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Although Franklin wasn’t talking about project-based work, he could have been. As organizations’ project management processes mature, change happens. Whether unintentional or by design, it’s never easy implementing new work management methodologies. That being said, some of the most common implementation problems are excuses, not roadblocks.

Knowing (and then educating everyone involved with the change) upfront what to expect can make the culture shock a little easier to deal with. I’ve found that “fear of change” in most cases is a fear of the unknown. Here are some of the most common fears that organizations face as they try to change or implement new project management methodologies:

  • It’s different. Realizing that there are some people who thrive on change, but most people don’t, is important. You may get some push-back simply because it’s a change.
  • Some managers are uncomfortable with additional scrutiny. Projects that might be important to one senior manager may not be as important to others. This could make some managers a little nervous that their projects might not stand up to peer review.

  • Some projects are more important than others. Implementing a sound work management methodology will mean that only those projects that provide the most business value will get pushed forward—not the “pet” projects of influential stakeholders. Because this might negatively impact some projects, those stakeholders may try to block the process.

  • There are tough decisions to be made. Best practice requires that some projects will get funded and others will not. It’s important that senior managers understand that they have a responsibility to the organization—not just their individual departments. There will be managers who don’t like this fact.

  • Implementation takes time. Implementing a new methodology for project-based work takes time. Because it doesn’t happen overnight, there will be those who will say they don’t have time for this—but it’s necessary to take the time to be successful.

Like any organizational culture change, there will be those who embrace the change and others who don’t. Be prepared for both, and your efforts will be a success. What are some of the challenges you have successfully faced when implementing project management methodologies?

About Ty Kiisel

Writing about project management for @task gives Ty the opportunity to share his personal experiences as an “accidental” project manager along with the lessons learned from conversations with customers, hopefully demonstrating that it really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, the rewards of successfully executing project-based work are universal.

About @task

@task helps organizations focus on being more effective, innovative, and more competitive with a rich project and portfolio management solution that enables decision-makers to maximize their resources by implementing those initiatives that provide the greatest business value. @task helps align the strategic goals of objectives with the implementation and execution goals of project teams.

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