When is a business change project most vulnerable?

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project handover

When there is business change, whether it’s an office move or the introduction of a new system, the employees affected by the change will require support. 

One of the main issues when undertaking a change project is the lack of support for the ‘end user’.  Projects tend to have a support resource in place, but what happens when the project team leave? Support services for this time are rarely put in place before the project takes flight which can cause a lot of confusion for employees affected by the change. Users have questions and issues and, having looked to the project team for support throughout the duration of the project lifecycle, now really require support.

At the end of every project, during the closedown period,  lesson learned workshops often take place, and essentially the project is handed back to the business – BAU Handover.

This is when support for the end user is removed and the crucial BAU handover can be often neglected. As commented in the article  “Projects are evil and must be destroyed” “BAU support/maintenance teams are generally under-resourced, have extremely limited opportunity for handover from project teams, and have to support many different systems. This usually leads to less than ideal development practices and deteriorating quality over time.”

This is unfortunate as the BAU handover occurs at a delicate time. Successful user adoption is far from guaranteed at the end of a project and the BAU support team and project team need to ask some key questions to determine what support the end user will need:

  • What’s really important when introducing something new to this company?
  • Who’s really important when making this change?
  • How can we help them get through this change?
  • What tools or resources can we put in place to ensure they are supported fully during and after the BAU handover?
  • How much time should we take planning this before we make this change?
  • When do we need to have the support in place by?

As the emphasis is often more on delivering a project and physically making the change, and the BAU team is not always well provisioned, these questions are useful to ensure the end user is adequately supported. End user adoption of the business change is, after all, pivotal to making change stick.

What are your views? Is this a really sensitive time for business change and have you seen change fail at this point before?