Change is part of everything we do and the way we go about implementing change can have a tremendous impact on how change is received and accepted by those directly and indirectly affected. At Sedgwick, one of our core values is to embrace change. This does not mean change or managing change is easy, but we have a great Implementation Project Management team who works with new clients and stakeholders to make the process run smoothly.
No matter where you are in your change process, these three things, when done well, will ensure change is developed and implemented successfully:
- Stakeholder identification
- Impact assessment
Not surprisingly, these three things all feed into each other and are facilitated by project management.
It is important to understand that these three components are not one size fits all. The Sedgwick teams know each client is unique. Sedgwick’s Implementation Project Management team is empowered to leverage best-in-practice processes and documents in a manner that addresses the uniqueness of each of our clients ensuring a positive perception and outcome of the transition. Recently I worked with a new client where it would have been easy to pull out the project management text book and get the job done.
However, the answer was not 1, 2, 3 and move on to the next project. As outlined below all three areas are important but, depending on the need, one may be more important than the other two. In the case of this client, Sedgwick’s experience helped us identify that we really needed to focus the client on communication. We created an effective communication plan with attention to the other two areas for an excellent outcome.
So let’s dive in and look at each of these in more depth.
Projects are defined as temporary and having a beginning and an end. Throughout the project, the project team should ensure they are identifying the complete scope of work. At Sedgwick, that means including what the client and/or sponsor defines as quality. First priority in the project management process is to identify a list of typical stakeholders. Although stakeholder identification occurs throughout the project’s lifecycle, identifying stakeholders during the beginning of the project will increase the likelihood of the project being successful. By taking the appropriate time to identify all stakeholders, the team can refine scope, define quality and determine appropriate communications needed early on in a project.
A stakeholders list can be documented by using team directories and sub-team directories that define responsibilities and approximate time needed so the client understands how to procure their project team resources. Our clients, across all industries, also typically consider who should be included in a project from not just internal departments, but also vendors, brokers and/or insurers.
Impact assessment is necessary to understand and confirm a project’s impact within an organization’s risk and project portfolios and identify changes that could have a positive or negative impact. For example, we implemented a client that had recently purchased several large organizations on multiple technology platforms. The goal of the project was to integrate the various absence management programs into one total absence management program, while maintaining the multiple technology platforms for the recently purchased companies. The team engaged in this project spent time conducting a thorough review of the overall strategy for the client in regards to their newly acquired organizations and what that meant to the current structure of their absence program. It helped us determine what would need to be done and communicated in order to ensure the future state was in line with the client’s vision and strategy. To do this, we used the following Sedgwick tools and processes with the client to complete our assessment:
- Stakeholder list
- Communication plan
- Identification and documentation of standard functions typically implemented as part of change
- Creation of templates to ensure a consistent approach for analyzing the change
- Development of processes to maintain the integrity and appropriate application of the tools used to define/refine scope and define quality
Finally, one of the most critical and more difficult challenges we see for our clients is communicating change to their employee population. By taking the time to identify all groups that have some sort of stake in the project/product, combined with the completed impact assessment and the organization’s risk/project portfolio, the project team can determine the types and frequency of communication to ensure there are no midnight hour surprises or poor perception of the change that is being implemented. Here are some of the most common methods we find useful for clients:
- Sample communication schedules
- PowerPoint training presentations for HR managers
- System guides
- Sample FAQs
- Communication vehicles
- Posting communications on internal portal sites
- Panel card notifications
- Tri-fold brochures with perforated wallet cards
- Process templates
With effective communications, you can ensure change is received more positively and that employees, HR personnel, risk managers, supervisors and management staff know how to interact and use the new products/services. Management support is gained for overall objectives.
Change is difficult so if you can identify who should be involved, how it impacts the overall organization and what and when to communicate, you can ensure the success and positive perception of the change you are implementing. How do you manage change? Share your successful strategies in the comments below.
Daniel Gerke, Project Manager, Implementations | PMP