Change Management

Discover Project Managers Utopia With These Change Management Tips

Table of Contents

Do You Know What Your Perfect World Would Look Like?

Everyone has their own version of what a perfect world would be for them. Some people want fame and fortune, others want love and happiness, and many just want it all.


Perfect World

Marketing Project Managers Want Just Three Things In Their Perfect World

In a marketing project manager’s world, they just want their projects to run smoothly, on time and within budget. Well, doesn’t that sound easy enough?  


Hardly.  As we all know, nothing goes as it’s planned, even in a perfect world!


You Need a Measurable Change Management Strategy


However, those three key Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which must be monitored managed effectively by the project manager, will help keep your plan on track.


Digital Dashboard - Marketing KPIs


No Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy
– Helmuth von Moltke the Elder,German Field Marshal (1800 – 1891)


Change Is The One Constant Of Project Management


There will always be external factors that will create unplanned changes, which every project manager needs to be ready for.  For example, there may be changes in the available human resources within your client's team, your team or even among your sub-contractors.


Organizational Structures Can Change as Well


If there is one thing that is true of just about every organization, it is that they are in a state of constant change.  Even when the internal organizational structure of your marketing agency changes, you, the marketing project manager, still has contractual obligations that must be met with your existing customers.


Organizational Culture Affects Everything


While it is claimed that culture eats strategy for breakfast, when it comes to organizational change management, organizational culture definitely affects your odds of successfully navigating changes to your projects.  Having an organizational culture that embraces changes rather than pushes against changes, is must have for you to experience success.


Business Strategy Changes Can Affect Your Company's Culture


Your company's business strategy is a foundational part of creating and maintaining an company culture that embraces change.  This is why one a marketing projects managers need to keep abreast of what their company's current Business Strategy is.  If you're lucky, and work for a large publicly traded company, the annual report usually contains a clear statement from the CEO that explains where the company is headed.  This is a very good primary source that will also affect the management strategy and execution on a day-to-day basis.


Managing Change to the Status Quo is a Constant Activity


Perfecting change management skills is vital, and utilizing these few tips can help any marketing project manager with any changes that may come their way.


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In A Perfect World: Project Scope and Goals Would Remain Constant



  • You have collaborated with your client about the project scope.

  • You have written a creative brief, which has been approved, and you have already had your internal kick-off meeting.

  • Midway through your project’s progression, the client changes the scope and goal of the project.


  • Explain to the client the effects the changes will have on budget and the timeline of the project.

  • Provide them what has been created so far, and compromise on what changes are feasible within their timeframe and budget.

  • If the client is still unsure of the new scope of the project, try to pinpoint if it was the creative concept, budget or another factor that triggered the changes.

Your Leadership Style Plays a Role in Managing this Scenario


In these situations, you will need to match your leadership style to the situation and the client.  Some clients will be very pushy, and unwilling to compromise.  Others will take a very, 'I am in your hands' approach.  Your ability to practice active listening, mirror and match your client's emotions and perspectives, can go a long ways toward, resolving this often dicey situation.


Leadership Style



In A Perfect World: Team Members Would Meet all Deadlines



  • All deadlines and timelines have been discussed and agreed upon at the kick-off meeting.

  • However, some new projects have come in that have a tighter turnaround time and bigger budget, which puts your project at the bottom of the heap.


  • Create different time buffers – one specific to the client, and one specific to the team members.

  • This will give your project the extra time needed for unforeseen circumstances. Even one extra day can make a difference for a project deadline.

New Technology May be Needed to Meet Deadlines


If you find that your team is constantly coming in later with their project deliverables, new technology, methodologies and frameworks may need to be acquired and introduced into your environment.  Because this can often involve both additional budgets and the use of a change management process, it is crucial that these types of changes are introduced at the right time, by the right change agents, within your organization.


In a Perfect World: Clients Would Give Their Project Feedback in an Organized and Timely Manner



  • Your client has given you the feedback you need but in 5 different emails by 5 different people, and within a 3-day span.

  • Finally, you have implemented all desired changes from the client but the next day, the client has even more changes to make!


Customer satisfaction is crucial to any project, but the client also needs to abide by certain guidelines to guarantee that the final product is up to client standards and budget.


Suggested Guidelines From the Trenches:

  • At the beginning of every project, let the client know how many days they have to give you project feedback, and how many rounds of changes is within budget.

  • Find out who the main point of contact is for the project and define the main line of communication.

  • Make it clear all project feedback needs to be collective.

Living The Dream Is Possible

It’s easy to daydream about project utopia, but the fact of the matter is, there are things that marketing project managers just can’t control due to unforeseen circumstances especially in terms of change management.


Successful Change Management is Possible


Successful Change Management relies on four core principles:

  • Understand Change.
  • Plan Change.
  • Implement Change.
  • Communicate Change.

Design a Communication Strategy Upfront


Part of every project managers repertoire of skills includes designing a structured communication strategy at the beginning of every project, regardless of whether it is a marketing project or any other type of project.  A popular communication framework is the 7x7 ways.  You need to design and ensure every stakeholder knows and pays attention to your period project change communications and messaging efforts.  You really can't overcommunicate, though it may seem like you are at times.


Communication Plan


Don't Forget the Hard Factors


According to a Harvard Business Review article from the Harvard Business School, there are four 'hard factors' you must master to successfully management change:


  • Project Durations
  • Performance Integrity
  • Senior Management Commitment
  • Additional Effort Required for the Change

They, of course, gave it a catchy acronym, DICE.

Project Durations


Project durations, especially the time between project reviews, appears to be especially important to project changes according to the Harvard Business Review article..  We have found this to be very true, whether on marketing projects or on SAP implementations, whose methodology includes a project review at every stage of the project. 


Performance Integrity

This refers to the ability of the team to perform their jobs.  One of the toughest aspects of a project manager's job is the selection of competent team members, whether internal or external. 


 Senior Management Commitment

While some might consider this a soft part of the project, nothing could be further from the truth.  The executive team provides the strategic vision of the company, sets the agenda, provides the resources and holds the project manager, the client and team accountable for project success.  They're typically extremely busy, so accurate, precise, persuasive communication skills are critical when talking to the C-Suite.


Additional Effort

Change, by definition, requires additional work to make happen.  This can be one of the biggest factors inducing resistance to change.  Additional time, coaching and communication must be allocated to change efforts, especially those that fall during a 'live' project.


Two Types of Project Reviews


When it comes to conducting project reviews, the founder of the company has a lot of experience with conducting them.  According to him, there are really two key types of project reviews:

  • Project Management Review
  • Solution Review

He agreed, that conducting these was critical to both keeping a project on track or getting one that was off-track back on track.


Project Management Review vs Solution Review

Most of the project reviews he led were solution reviews, while some were pure project management focused reviews.  The project management reviews were focused on the Project Manager and whether he had established and was following the implementation methodology.


The solution review were usually conducted by much larger teams of solution experts.  While some projects got a clean bill-of-health, many got recommendations about different solution approaches.  This was because very long term projects often had led to the development of solutions that were now available as part of the standard offering from SAP.  


For solution reviews that were being done for environments where SAP or Hubspot was already live, the solution experts would often find that many developments could be replaced with now standard offerings.

Project Success is Possible and Probable


When you have the right change management model, that follow proven principles of change management, success is possible.  You still need keep both your senior executives and key stakeholders apprised of your change initiatives, but you can succeed.    


Project Management Best Practices


Project risk management needs to be a key part of your ‘Best Practices'.  For more tips on attaining project management success, click on the button below. 


7 Key Tips to Successful  Marketing Project Management


Until Next Time...


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Cristina Keleshian

Cristina is an Inbound Marketing expert with international experience in a variety of industries

View All Articles by Cristina Keleshian

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