Interface and Change Management Concepts

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Introduction

Organizations work with many partners and clients to initiate, design, and implement various projects. The success of such projects depends on the effectiveness of administration and supervision, which is the focus of interface management. Change management is also crucial in organization projects, especially because several issues amount to modifications in projects through adaptive management to guarantee success. This essay defines the purpose of interface management and change management while also highlighting related concepts of internal and external interfaces, organizational, intangible and technical interfaces. The roles of a critical project manager are also underlined along with issues that cause projects to change or delay.

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Interface Management

Purpose of Interface Management

Interface management connotes an orderly procedure applied when an organization works with many clients, contractors and subcontractors. It serves the purpose of streamlining a project’s communication, identifying critical boundaries, and monitoring the progress of ongoing work while addressing risks. Interfaces define organizational, managerial and technical project systems, representing link points between all elements or parties involved (Project Management Institute, 2017). In regards to interface management, all parties work toward a mutual goal, i.e. to successfully complete a project. Multiple contractors and clients in a project imply an increased probability of lack of communication, miscommunication, or the inability to observe critical elements like budget, scope and schedule (Project Management Institute, 2017). The aforementioned challenges can be solved through interface management.

Internal Versus External Interfaces of a Project Organization

Internal interface involves the project team working entirely within a defined framework of the organizational structure. Components of an internal interface include the following: senior management, internal project manager, functional project manager(s), human resource, and functional team. The complete responsibility lies within the scope of work of the project organization, with the aforementioned individuals free from any external factors while completing their respective obligations (Axelson & Richtnér, 2017). On the other hand, external interface entails contractual engagement of parties in the implementation of a project. Key elements include an external project manager, external consultants, external suppliers and external contractors and subcontractors. The scope of work accomplished by contracted parties greatly influences the project organization from the outside (Hayes, 2018). Thus, the organization must build a consensus on how to partner with the clients to reduce the chances of any conflicts.

Examples of Organizational, Intangible and Technical Interfaces

The organizational interface comprises physical location, management, the process, and work task. Physical location interface is characterized by face-to-face interaction and proximity. Decision-making before and during the project occurs at the managerial interface. Day-to-day work by the project team defines the process interface-joint decision-making, task sharing and understanding of one another all take place. Decisions on conditions for interaction and level/type of roles are made at the work task interface (Project Management Institute, 2017).

An intangible boundary in a project organization is technology-related, majorly relying on the use of the human’s physical body in motion as a mechanism of input. Common examples are voice agents in screen-first devices (VASFDs), voice-only devices (VODs), and voice-first devices (VFDs). VASFDs (e.g. Google Assistant) make use of voice to enhance the existing Graphic User Interfaces (GUIs), followed by physical actions on touchscreens for subsequent commands (Matthews, Thomas, Von Itzstein & Smith, 2019).

Concerning VODs (e.g. Google Home smart speakers) solely rely on audio as input and output mechanisms due to the lack of visual displays. VODs are thus used to complete simple project tasks, e.g. to get answers to simple questions. Lastly, VFDs (e.g. the Amazon Echo Show) voice is the only trigger for input, but there is a screen display (Matthews et al., 2019). It thus blends voice, touch and audio as input and output mechanisms to promote project implementation.

Regarding the technical interface, integrations are built between different project elements, for instance, an electronic connection between the Incomes Register and payroll software. The boundary focuses on user interfaces in supporting presentation language (computer-to-human portion) and action language (human-to-computer transaction end). Natural-language interfaces, menus, command-language interfaces, question-and-answer interfaces, GUIs and any other Web-based interfaces for use on the internet are all examples of technical boundaries in a project organization (Hayes, 2018). The technical interface is arguably a prerequisite to the success of project initiation through to implementation, as the world has evolved to embrace technology.

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Critical Interface and Role of a Project Interface Manager

A critical interface (CI) is defined as user experiences (UX) and user interfaces (UI) helpful in minimizing mistakes, as well as ensuring clarity and transparency throughout the lifecycle of a project. A project interface manager completes the following obligations to ensure CI is in place: development and implementation of interface management procedure; ensuring consistency in the application of interface management procedures; monitoring internal and external interface activities; maintenance of the master interface request register; and constant reporting on the status of crucial interface activity (Project Management Institute, 2017). In essence, project interface managers must be skilled communicators as they are the primary clients’ and contractors’ points of contact.

Change Management

Issues Causing Changes on Projects and Effective Change Management

Several issues amount to changes in projects through adaptive management to guarantee success. For example, a key stakeholder could change their mind at any phase of project implementation and opt to discontinue once they are disregarded. Effective change management by project managers would entail the incorporation of the stakeholder’s new ideas which may be related to project design or quality of output (Heagney, 2016). Reacting fast to stakeholder opinions increases the chances of accomplishing the project’s goals.

The introduction of new legislation or regulations can also lead to a change of project requirements or scope. Effective change management by a project manager would be to review and update the project approach and policy and ensure there is compliance and legality from the start to the end (Hayes, 2018). Frequent research on regulatory changes is inevitable to warrant timely project policy modification and alignment with the latest legislation. When the legislation becomes too hostile to continue the project, a complete overhaul of priorities and targets becomes certain.

The technological update can equally signal a change in the course of project implementation to keep it running. The technology initially used may become obsolete before the project’s intended end, prompting the introduction of a new one. In this case, a project manager would initiate a shift to the latest version along with the training of teams on how to use the technology in project execution (Matthews et al., 2019). Hence, any failure to integrate new technology may lead to project termination or slow implementation.

Change in sponsorship is also another factor that contributes to the adjustment of the project. One possible reason for the change is, the new sponsor has different approaches of doing things in comparison to the previous one. A project manager effectively handles the change by accommodating the sponsor’s shift in ideology; he or she alters some of the project’s deliverables to harmonise the latest guarantor’s interests (Project Management Institute, 2017). Without such adjustments, the project is likely to terminate due to lack of donor trust and funding.

Finally, a revision of project strategy is another force that drives project transformation to safeguard its relevance and competitiveness in the industry. For example, an organization may review its three or five-year strategic plan to contain competitive threats or address emerging issues not previously considered. However, an alteration of strategy may culminate in the premature closure of project if not properly resolved (Hayes, 2018; Heagney, 2016). Effective change management comes in handy as the project manager aligns the work with the change in strategic course at the design stage and executes accordingly.

Major Causes of Project Delays

There are several causes of project delays, with the major ones ranging from unrealistic deadlines, availability of partner/client, resource availability, unpredictable events (uncertainties), management decision or change in priority and inadequate planning. Regarding unrealistic deadlines as a cause of project delay, examples of contributing factors are overzealous donor, poor visibility into capacity, and the failure of the project manager to educate team leaders on risks associated with delays (Project Management Institute, 2017). Setting unrealistic deadlines is a common cause of project delays that cannot be overemphasized.

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Another cause of delay is the availability of clients or partners, who must all be contacted and agreements reached prior to the commencement of a project. Successful project execution requires the presence of suppliers, customer, consultants among others, as well as inputs, outputs, process and customers. For example, is a supplier does not agree with the current project terms of supply, delay may accrue until a compromise is reached between the parties. Risk assessments of project and all expectation agreements require prior consensus from external partners (Miterev, Mancini & Turner, 2017). The process may be tedious, thus resulting into considerable delays in project implementation.

Resource availability also greatly impacts delays, and cannot be disregarded by project implementation team. For example, the lack of human resources (e.g. technical project manager) due to high turnover rates may delay the project until a qualified staff is hired. Project managers must work closely with those managing resources to facilitate resource commitment. Prioritization of demand is equally an integral part, which emphasizes the need to initiate mid-stream projects that take over the current initiatives. Rescheduling must also be completed appropriately and a new foundation set for the affected project (Project Management Institute, 2017). Delays linked to limited resources can be contained through accurate planning during the initiation stage.

Some projects are late due to unpredictable events or uncertainties which could not be identified during risk assessment. For instance, an on-field project involving community sensitization and awareness creation workshops on the need for natural resource conservation may be halted by the outbreak of COVID-19, which limits public gathering. Any project that does not employ management reserve to contain unknown risks and contingency reserve to address known threats is likely to experience considerable delays related to uncertainties (Axelson & Richtnér, 2017). Consideration of all the aforementioned areas during project initiation and design is necessary to deter delays associated with uncertainties.

Change in priorities or management decision is another prominent reason for delays in project completion. For example, an organization that offers food relief to refugees may change priority from the current role to a new one entailing the creation of self-reliant refugees, thus resulting in the redesigning of project and considerable delays. Sometimes managers adapt to new industry trends by altering key targets, and should not be penalized for intentionally causing delays as the outcomes of such alterations would be fruitful (Miterev et al., 2017). Delays associated with the aforementioned factors can be avoided through thorough risk assessment prior to the onset of project.

Conclusion

In summary, interface and change management are vital areas of consideration in project initiation, design and implementation. Interface management serves the purpose of streamlining a project’s communication, identifying critical boundaries, and monitoring the progress of ongoing work while addressing risks. Several issues amount to changes in projects through adaptive management to guarantee success. Examples include technology update, change of sponsorship, and revision of a project strategy. Lastly, as noted above, project delays are majorly caused by issues associated with unrealistic deadlines, availability of partner/client, resource availability, unpredictable events (uncertainties), management decision or change in priority and inadequate planning.

References

Axelson, M., & Richtnér, A. (2017). Organizational interfaces for knowledge integration in product development collaborations. Creativity and Innovation Management, 26(4), 418-429. Web.

Hayes, J. (2018). The theory and practice of change management. New York, U.S: Palgrave.

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Heagney, J. (2016). Fundamentals of project management (5th ed.). New York, U.S: Amacom.

Matthews, B. J., Thomas, B. H., Von Itzstein, S., & Smith, R. T. (2019). Remapped physical-virtual interfaces with bimanual haptic retargeting. In 2019 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR) (pp. 19-27). IEEE. Web.

Miterev, M., Mancini, M., & Turner, R. (2017). Towards a design for the project-based organization. International Journal of Project Management, 35(3), 479-491. Web.

Project Management Institute. (2017). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK®️ Guide) (6th ed.). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: PMI, Inc.

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