A Program And Project Organization Item in the list of tools for project managers and participants

Any change program, in a company or in society, needs a formal organization. In the case of the Second World War industrial transformation, the core of this formal organization was represented by the War Production Board and in the case of the space program, the formal organization is represented by NASA. Representatives from these core organizations, will, however, work in committees and project teams, together with representatives from companies that run projects in the programs, experts and other people who are involved in the program. These committees and joint teams and the people in companies who work in the projects are also part of the formal organization of the program. As mentioned above, it has been estimated that 400,000 people were involved in the Apollo program. The work of each of them needs to be organized.

In business, the organization of change projects has changed remarkably during the past two decades. Twenty years ago it was normal for large companies to appoint strategy consultants for analysis projects. These companies, typically, delivered a report with a thorough analysis, telling company management which of the strategic opportunities it should pursue and containing perhaps a plan with the steps that could be taken in order to fulfill the strategy. The steps could consist of focusing on a certain business area, divesting businesses in other areas, acquiring certain companies in order to strengthen the position in the core focus areas and a number of "dos and don'ts" for the change process. The company would then have to manage the change by itself, and, needless to say, in many cases very little happened after that. The analysis and planning effort may have involved a team of five consultants, some part-time on the project, with different tasks and specialties, and the duration of the project would have been 2 to 6 months, depending on the complexity of the issues and the demand for detail. Employees in the company that appointed the consultants may have been involved in interviews with the consultants, and high-level managers may have been invited to presentations of the results.

Modern change projects in business often involve many more people and the people involved spend more time in the projects. It was noticed that in the type of projects described above, the speed of change was reduced, the motivation of employees waned and the knowledge of what to do and how to do it disappeared when the consultants left, which often happened after the analysis was finished. Employees in the company organizations often did not have the skills or the drive that would have enabled them to run the whole project on their own. They were often so bogged down in their daily tasks and they lacked the knowledge and the tools to do completely different things, such as evaluating acquisition targets, and acquiring companies, or preparing existing parts of the business for divestment. Some organizations had these skills, but many did not. As we will see below, it is truly difficult for any person to learn new skills and to get to work with new tasks, or using new tools.

Change management requires substantially more resources in the change program and in most companies it also requires more involvement from consultants and for greater lengths of time, than traditional strategy consulting. Companies that run change projects repeatedly, such as GE or Nike, have employees who have developed skills and have gained experience that is necessary in order for employees to be able to manage or participate in a large change program. Many organizations that have less experience from change or run such projects infrequently have not.

Realizing that traditional strategy analysis often does not lead very far in terms of actual change, change programs today are often organized so that the same core team of persons will be able to participate in a project from start to finish, so that some of the participants in the analysis phase also become the leaders in the change project or program. The analysis, or design, phase is typically performed by a small number of people, who set goals for the change and make a plan for the large change program. In the change program in a large organization, there will be a number of different streams, with one manager from the company that functions as the person responsible for each stream. There may be 10 or 20 streams that may cover such things as IT systems transformation, modularization of product design, change management in different departments in the organization and communication streams, which work with the communication of plans and results to employees outside of the project, and to remote offices.

In change programs in organizations, which are relatively inexperienced in change, each manager for each stream in the program may have a full-time or part-time consultant supporting her/him with the management of the program, preparing materials for decisions, preparing the manager for meetings and other important skills that the manager needs to acquire for her/his role. In some cases this support may last for the entire program, which may take 12 or 24 months to complete, or the consultant support may be reduced as the manager learns to manage the program or stream without support. In addition to this management structure, there will be employees without a management function in the program, who administrate, perform analyses or have other roles in the project. There may also be consultants with specialist skills in particular areas.

All in all, this type of project may require the involvement of 50, 100, or several hundred persons from the organization of the company that runs the program, with support from sometimes almost as many consultants from one or several external consulting companies.

The advantage of running change programs in this way is that the organization is dedicated to running the program and many times the people involved are with the project full-time. These managers and employees will be some of the most skilled and motivated people in the company and they will have the support from even more specialized consultants. This ensures that the project is driven with much energy and that the effort is goal oriented.

The cost of running this type of project may be several million dollars per year. For a large company that is in need of strategic reorientation or some other major change effort, this cost can be justified by the rapid adjustment to a new strategic focus. A focused change effort does not ensure that the goal will be reached. For several reasons, this type of program may fail, but the structured approach of change management highly increases the odds of success. For many companies in highly competitive industries that are badly in need of becoming more efficient, rapid change may be a matter of survival. In this type of situation it is often better to spend a large sum of money to rapidly come back on track, than to take the risk of running the change program with insufficient resources and run the risk of failure.

In the energy transition, the strategy analysis may identify the need both for a strong organization on the part of society as a whole and for strong change management efforts in many companies. As indicated, this would be a very large investment for organizations that need to or want to transform themselves to sustainability. It may be that this type of change will not need a large full-time organization in most companies, but it may be that some companies will need to change in a rapid and focused way. This may both be companies that need to remodel their products or services in order for them to become more energy-efficient in order to generate more demand from the market, and there may be companies that need to improve their own business processes so that they, themselves, become more energy-efficient, or both. Hopefully, most companies will not need to undertake a massive effort and it is not the goal of this book to argue for change or large change programs for their own sake. We need to expect, however, that large-scale managed change will be one of the options for the future.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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