October 19, 2023

How to Understand Change Management and Use it for Project Management

This post aims to help Project Managers to realistically define the boundaries between Project Management (PM) and Change Management (CM). I would like to lead you through the differences between the two disciplines to show what can be picked from the CM discipline for your projects.

How to make the current grey areas between project and change management clear?

Every project involves change. In other words:

The company moves from one status to another desired one, and it can involve business processes, organizational structures, software, hardware, people roles” (PROSCI).

Find out more on the differences between the PM and CM

Currently, Project management and change management are viewed as two different disciplines:

  • Project management is focused on the final delivery of what is in the scope, on time and budget with quality
  • Change management is focused on the adoption of the changes by the people in the organization

It is evident that change management and project management are both critical disciplines that should be applied to any project to improve the probability of success.

See how and when it is possible to Integrate disciplines

It is not always possible to entirely separate the two practices. Not surprisingly, in the last few years, professional bodies, companies, and consultancy organizations have conducted some surveys about the impact of the change management discipline on projects.

The one I found particularly striking is the survey conducted by Deloitte, where 83% of participants name Organizational Change as one of their regular project tasks. However, only 67% of them are planning Change Management activities at project preparation stage.

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In another interesting research conducted and published by EmeraldInsight, PMs or people involved at different project governance levels were asked to evaluate the importance of their tasks for the success of the project.

As a result, a comparative ranking of disciplinary contribution to project success has been produced.

This picture suggests that each role perceives their tasks as more important than those of the other, even though, as you can see, many of them are not exclusive to one or the other role but surely are common to the two (managing risks, developing clear and realistic objectives, developing a strong business case, etcetera).

It is not possible to ignore the fact that to integrate the two practices can be a big challenge.

PROSCI  has proposed a framework, to help in the integration of the two disciplines. In this framework, project management and change management cross paths to make sure that change is implemented and results are produced.

We need to consider that the use of both project management resources and change management ones, is typical of large-sized projects.

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What can a PM do if there are no change management resources available?

1. identify and compare tasks and the different contents

(The points below listed are not exhaustive, depending on size, context, and technology which can be different from project to project)

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2. Get  the opportunity to learn how to use change management tools and techniques in project management tasks

Now that you got not only the differences but also the contact points between the two disciplines, you have the opportunity to acquire knowledge about how to embed change management tools and techniques in your project management activity.

In the next post, I will show you which tools and techniques I have used to manage change/transformation projects that you can successfully use in your project and project documentation.

Stay tuned.

Luca Collina (BA, BSC & PM PRINCE 2 Certified) is an independent transformational consultant and PM (change management and ERP). If you are looking for a way to balance your tasks between project & change management send me a message directly to me at info@lucacollina.co.uk