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Managing projects that have a real impact

Digitalization and a fast-changing world place great demands on companies today. The future belongs to those who become quicker, more innovative and flexible and can meet the changing needs of the customers. As competition becomes tougher and conditions change, new solutions are needed at an accelerating pace. Projects are initiated with good ambitions and a desire for higher productivity, better profitability, more satisfied employees and increased ability to meet the needs of the market. However, do you feel that the impacts that the project would give do not materialize? You are not alone.

At Knowit, we often meet customers whose projects have stopped at being just projects. The desired impacts that the project would give do not materialize, the question is: why?

Project goals vs impact goals
Projects are often organized in a project or programme office with the task of coordinating and following up on them. Here they are often really good at defining project goals that describe when the project is to be delivered, how much it is allowed to cost and what is to be delivered. These project goals are a prerequisite for a successful project and also what often captures the attention and focus of the programme office, project manager and management, rather than the impact each project is supposed to deliver. In other words, the challenge is often not the project goals, but the fact that the project’s impact goals do not get enough attention.

Change management in the background
Hand on heart, how many have not been involved in projects where the first thing that has been cut down is the change management? There is always a price to pay when the time comes for implementation and impact realization.

Employees and managers who are not properly involved do not take responsibility for the delivery either. The project delivery, for example a new process or a new system, can mean that both structures and behaviours need to change. This in turn requires change management to create understanding, dedication and joy as well as sustained follow-up in the organization. It takes time, and must be allowed to take time, but often the recipient of the project delivery lacks bandwidth to receive the delivery and work with change management to complete the implementation. As a result, the expected impacts will not materialize.

Follow-up ends with the project
Many times, project follow-up ends with the project. When implementation is done, there is no follow-up and thus there is no possibility of correction during this phase to secure the realization of the impact.

Three tips to manage projects that have a real impact

1 Work towards impact goals linked to your organization’s vision and values
By linking the impact goals to the organization’s vision and values, the goals are part of the organization's framework for who we are, what we want to achieve and how that is to happen. We must not forget the project goals, but we also need impact goals that describe what change we want to see.

2 Complement the programme and project office with a transformation office 
The transformation office is responsible for lowering barriers and creating conditions for change linked to the programme and project office.

For example, the transformation office may be responsible for a transformation map, long-term impact realization and measurability, thereby contributing to the control and management of the projects. Process design, organization and technology linked to the changes that need to be implemented are other examples of areas of responsibility. Furthermore, the transformation office should challenge and coach projects, clients and initiatives as well as build and develop new talents in the organization that meet the changes that the projects entail and to ensure realization. Last but not least, they have an important role to play in ensuring communication with the stakeholders that enable changes in the organization.

3 Work actively with impact realization after a project closure
Possible results are often achieved after a project has been implemented and concluded. The focus should therefore be aimed at measuring and following up impacts over time.

Want to know more? Please contact Fredrik Höök.