Business Center

Getting Everyone On the Same Page: How Change Management Helped My Project

Quentin Boose, Process Improvement Intern
May 1st, 2019

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The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the City and County of Denver (CCD) have maintained a close relationship throughout the years. This is necessary, as the Denver Metro area is the state’s most populous and it contains the most traveled roads year after year. CDOT works alongside numerous local agency units like CCD on a variety of transportation oriented projects, such as Central 70, currently underway. In order to construct these large expansion projects, the two agencies need to define clear roles and responsibilities for compliance surrounding the project. In the past, there have been instances when miscommunication between CDOT and local agencies occurred regarding which regulations and best practices are heeded when conducting a transportation project that falls within the boundaries of multiple agencies.

Karen Fujii-Martin, who at the time this project was undertaken was Region 1’s (Denver Metro Area) External Programs Lead and has since become a member of the Headquarters Civil Rights Business Resource Center (CRBRC) as a Professional Services Compliance Specialist, took on the task to fix this recurring issue and establish guidelines for future CDOT-local agency partnerships in Region 1. Since this change in standards would affect not just CDOT employees, but other agencies around Colorado, Fujii-Martin attended the November 2016 CDOT Change Management Course for Internal Business Project and Change Managers. After the class, she set to work on drafting the process manual. “In the past, CDOT had an agreement with CCD to enforce federal requirements when on projects so CDOT would provide minimal oversight.” Fujii-Martin stated. However, it was determined the two agencies were not aligned with compliance of the rules and regulations, and so Fujii-Martin outlined the standards in the process manual. “In 2016, the process manual was just an idea to get project personnel, CCD, and the Civil Rights unit on the same page to follow processes and enforce compliance.”  she said.

Manual Goes Statewide

Soon after the Local Agency Process Manual draft was completed, CDOT’s Civil Rights and Business Resource Center unit at headquarters decided that Fujii-Martin’s work would be used as the statewide standard for all local agency parameters and guidelines. “Once the CRBRC decided they wanted to make this the statewide standard, it naturally took longer to implement because the number of stakeholders increased significantly.” Fujii-Martin said. This effort began in November 2016 and the process guide was instituted on October 1, 2018. During that time Fujii-Martin, Region1’s Local Agency Unit and the CRBRC met with the CCD to establish guidelines and standards of communication between the two agencies. Those conversations became the standard for all of the cities and counties CDOT interacts with when constructing projects in multi-jurisdictional locations.

Fujii-Martin was able to leverage the tools she learned in CDOT’s Change Management course to expand the scope of the Local Agency Process Manual. Engaging effective sponsorship was crucial in the transition from a Region 1 manual to the state-wide manual as the changes would affect a much larger group of state employees and local agencies. This project was not just for CDOT employees, but also City and County employees across Colorado, so creating an effective sponsor coalition was crucial in establishing the guidelines; executive sponsorship provided a heightened importance of Fujii-Martin’s manual. Again, with the wide variety of persons affected by this manual, a communication plan was essential to the success of this project. Tapping into the preferred senders and communication methods of the Prosci Change Management Methodology allowed for the City and County of Denver to understand this change was not just going to be enforced by CDOT, but also the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), a national organization.

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What’s Next for the Statewide Manual?

Since the adoption of the statewide manual, it has become a bit of a waiting game to see the total effects it will have with all local agency construction projects. This manual will be integrated in the design stage of new project planning to the final ribbon cutting of a bridge or roadway. For now though, the manual is being used on a case by case basis for local agency projects which are currently underway.

Thanks to Karen Fujii-Martin and her change management tactics, what was originally a guide for the CCD, turned into a statewide improvement for all new local agency design and construction projects.

Want to learn more about Change Management at CDOT? Check out our improvement efforts at the Office of Process Improvement’s website! Or, for CDOT employees, stop by the Change Hub on our Intranet!

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