7 June 2006

Marketing your project

Managing people through change is one of the hardest but most important things a corporate/IT project must do.

People naturally snap back to their previous work practices. Kurt Lewin wrote about this in the 50’s and it’s still a struggle to get people to adopt the change without switching back to their previous processes and behaviours.

So how do you get people to adapt to and adopt your change initiative? Most writings on the topic talk about engaging with stakeholders early and often, and about getting them to ‘own the change’ through helping create it. This is practical when you have a small group who can be directly consulted with but as the stakeholders grow the control, influence and ability to engage is diluted.

For example; I am working on a project where there are an estimated 1400 individual process users. How do I reach out to all these people, many of whom don’t care about my project or what it can do for them. The answer is to treat them like customers and my project like a business - and to market my product to them.

The UK Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as a "management process of anticipating, identifying and satisfying customer requirements profitably” – and that can be applied to project releases to corporate sales forces and operations teams. The key here is anticipating and satisfying. How you go about that will differ from project to project but once constant element will be the communication of the benefits of your tool to users.

When you communicate you should focus on all the things you would if you were a marketer. If your budget allows – hire a communication or marketing expert to manage this aspect of the change programme. Read up on marketing and incorporate a marketing plan into your overall project plan.

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