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Author  David McCreery – trainer, consultant and project manager – Althris

March 21, 2022 |

 5 min read

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What is the demand for organizational change at a project, programme and portfolio level and why?

Organizations are under huge pressure to recognize the weaknesses in – and the need to adapt – previous ways of working.

For example, when implementing a new IT system, as well as ensuring that the latest features are properly used, it also needs “people change”.

Therefore, this involves not just project but programme management knowledge: not merely concerned with the delivery of a new capability but realizing its benefits.

While organizations have already been changing at a reasonable pace, they haven’t been used to the level and speed of change happening now.

And this affects the roles of middle managers more than anyone else: needing to add more value and seeing change as an opportunity to improve their programme, Agile and people management skills.

Changing skills demands

Understanding an organization’s capacity to cope with the current level of change has become vital.

That means having the ability to bring customers, staff and other stakeholders with you while not damaging already successful parts of the business.

Managers may think they know this already, but it’s also valuable to revisit, rethink and re-learn important, best practice theories. So, while someone might have an intuitive feel for what to do, referencing an established practice helps to articulate change and the methods of change to other people.

Combining best practice knowledge

After certifying in PRINCE2 and using its techniques, project management professionals might ask “what’s next?” and “how do I add more value and bring my understanding to more senior people?”.

This is why an approach like the AXELOS ProPath designations – combining PRINCE2 with either MSP and M_o_R, or MSP with MoP and P3O – is a natural progression from managing smaller projects to supporting wider organizational change.

Even if a certification is not 100% relevant to a current role, it’s about thinking bigger, investing in professional development and building a broader understanding of how change affects an entire enterprise.

For example, certifying in MSP is the point where, I believe, people start to take more responsibility for how project delivery integrates into an organization by working closely with others and getting them to work together (enshrined in the principle collaborating across boundaries)

The latest edition of MSP does a great job of thinking about stakeholders, justification, changing behaviours and practices while ensuring that existing operations still hold together.

A difficult thing to do in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world is knowing how a programme of change will deliver value. But by putting the work in, you realize how it doesn’t work to just drop change on people without causing suspicion and resistance.

Rather by bringing people with you – helping them understand why change is happening and what the benefits are – you will get a better result

The consistency of best practice

Working with pharmaceutical companies that are certainly feeling the pace of change, what I see is a need to develop a common approach across their organizations.

As large pharma businesses are often made up of different companies acquired over the years and collaborating across the world, what they want is consistency in their change initiatives.

Having common, best practices gives them a “starting block” for consistency, but also the capacity to create local modifications. This is even more important to gain the confidence of senior managers: if they trust an approach being used anywhere in the organization, there’s more chance they’ll sponsor change.

Gaining the ability to reassure stakeholders at each end of the process means project and programme managers need to understand the bigger picture.

This applies especially to people with an Agile background: being able to see a wider perspective, getting more of the organization to understand proposed changes and to offer higher level leadership is where best practice like MSP can help.