Change management in relation to project management

Helping others understand change
management in relation to project
management and organizational change

Change management: the process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of change to achieve a required business outcome.

"What is change management?" This is a question you may have heard from colleagues or coworkers in passing or in formal presentations. While many of us 'know' intuitively what change management is, we have a hard time conveying to others what we really mean.

In thinking about how to define change management, it is important to provide context related to two other concepts - the change itself and project management. This tutorial shows how change management and project management are two critical disciplines that are applied to a variety of organizational changes to improve the likelihood of success and return on investment.

Ultimately, the goal of change is to improve the organization by altering how work is done

When you introduce a change to the organization, you are ultimately going to be impacting one or more of the following four parts of how the organization operates:
  • Processes
  • Systems
  • Organization structure
  • Job roles
While there are numerous approaches and tools that can be used to improve the organization, all of them ultimately prescribe adjustments to one or more of the four parts of the organization listed above. Change typically results as a reaction to specific problems or opportunities the organization is facing based on internal or external stimuli. While the notion of 'becoming more competitive' or 'becoming closer to the customer' or 'becoming more efficient' can be the motivation to change, at some point these goals must be transformed into the specific impacts on processes, systems, organization structures or job roles. This is the process of defining 'the change'.

Formally defining change management and project management

However, it is not enough to merely prescribe 'the change' and expect it to happen - creating change within an organization takes hard work and structure around what must actually take place to make the change happen. To begin, lets look at the formal definitions of project management and change management - two key disciplines required to bring a change to life. These are two commonly accepted definitions that help us begin to think about these two distinct but intertwined disciplines.
Project managementProject management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.
Project management is accomplished through the application and integration of the project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.
* From PMBOK® Guide, Third Edition
Change managementChange management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of change to achieve the required business outcome.
Change management incorporates the organizational tools that can be utilized to help individuals make successful personal transitions resulting in the adoption and realization of change.
Figure 1

As shown in Figure 1, both project management and change management support moving an organization from a current state (how things are done today), through a transition state to a desired future state (the new processes, systems, organization structures or job roles defined by 'the change'). Project management focuses on the tasks to achieve the project requirements. Change management focuses on the people impacted by the change.
Any change to processes, systems, organization structures and/or job roles will have a 'technical' side and a 'people' side that must be managed. Project management and change management have evolved as disciplines to provide both the structure and the tools needed to realize change successfully on the technical and people side.

Project management
  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Closing
* From PMBOK® Guide, Third Edition
  • Statement of work, Project charter, Business case
  • Work breakdown structure, Budget estimations, Resource allocation, Schedule
  • Tracking, Risk identification and mitigation, Reports on performance and compliance
Change management
  • Planning for change
  • Managing change
  • Reinforcing change

  • Individual change model
  • Communications
  • Sponsorship
  • Coaching
  • Training
  • Resistance management

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