Change Management vs. Project Management

Project management and change management are often confused by many. Adopting a blend of both project management and change management are often overlooked by organizations, since the value that both bring are not fully understood.

However, both project and change management are crucial and necessary when executing a project. Both disciplines are different but must be implemented together to achieve successful change and completion of a project. Focusing on project and change management delivers value across all aspects of the project, including the technical and people side.

To understand the true value that both disciplines bring to managing a project, we need to first understand the difference between the two.

What is project management?

Project management is a term that is obvious and vague at the same. Although people understand the definition intuitively, it is helpful to understand the office definition of the term. Project management is described as the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet project requirements, according to the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition. It is a temporary endeavor to achieve a certain goal and criteria within a certain amount of time.

Managing a project consists of 5 stages:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Closing

These 5 stages help organize the number of tasks required to drive a project from beginning to end and is intended to ensure that the project is designed and delivered effectively.

What is change management?

Now, let us focus on change management. Change management focuses on the people affected by the projects in a company, or other changes within an organization. More specifically, change management applies processes and tools to manage the people side of change from a current to future state, with an intended result to ensure that the employees impacted by the change adopt and buy-in to the change.  

Making a change involves 3 stages:

  • Preparing for a change
  • Managing the change
  • Reinforcing the change

Better Integrated as One

After understanding the difference between project and change management, it is easier to see the how each discipline contributes a critical piece to successful project change. The most effective approach involves integrating change management and project management to create a unified approach to implementing a change. The change management aspect helps employees engage more proactively, resulting in more anticipated risk mitigation and managing of potential obstacles. Organizations should help change managers and project managers work together to ensure that project efforts and the resulting change are addressed sufficiently. This integration will create a shared organizational objective and a unified way of thinking, and a common language and vision for change management in a project.