Although change management and project management can be mutually exclusive disciplines, the combined efforts of both can create a powerful instrument for creating transformational change that produces more successful business outcomes.
Before you can help implement change management, you need to understand what this broadly used term means in the context of project management. Change management is a discipline that allows businesses to effectively identify and document anticipated changes to the business as well as to understand the ways that those changes affect individuals in terms of their workflows and processes. It also aids in preparing individuals for those changes and helps guide them toward best practices within new processes for continuous improvement.
Why change management is necessary throughout a project’s lifecycle
Strategic alignment is greatly impacted when you undertake projects. Projects make change inevitable and thus trigger the need for change management as a result of the impact to existing processes, people, and technologies. These changes will influence how the business delivers on its vision operationally, financially, and technologically, and they may even impact legal or regulatory responsibilities.
Stakeholder expectations can also become blocked as a result of changes that occur throughout projects and business initiatives. Most businesses recognize when external customers are impacted by changes to their business, while internal stakeholders may go unrecognized. Regardless stakeholder expectations should always remain in the forefront. Their expectations must be carefully monitored and managed in order to reduce lost confidence.
Process breakdowns and delivery deficiencies can become a reality if effective change management is not factored into project outcomes. All product, service, or support-related administration delivery should be carefully analyzed in the initial stages to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Simple details, if missed, can completely change effective delivery models and processes.
The three levels of change management (CM)
Individual change management is the most basic level, where changes can have a detrimental impact on each individual within an organization. When projects create change, some individuals adapt quickly and remain flexible, while others may react with fear, anger, and resistance. This can be a difficult area to navigate since change impacts each individual differently. These situations will require tailored communication, training, and guidance.
Organizational change management is where specific teams, departments, or groups of individuals are impacted by changes that occur. Leaders can more easily plan for, communicate with, guide, and train various groups on changes and the resulting impacts. Moving teams toward improvements and new processes can help them to more easily adapt. Team members can also assist, educate, and support each other in this effort.
Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.