3 Differences Between Change Managers and Project Managers

    Nov 5, 2018 | Posted by Michael Campbell

    As a project manager, you may find that you're also tasked with deploying change management within your organisation, especially if you are responsible for delivering the ROI and expected business results from the change as well as finishing on time, specification and budget.

    Often organisations blur the boundaries and responsibilities of change management and project management and this can cause confusion and a lack of accountability and ownership for the success of a change project. While there are areas of both that overlap (you can learn more about the common areas between these in our blog post '3 Common Areas of Change Management and Project Management Integration'), it’s important to realise that the two are not interchangeable and work best if integrated.

    To successfully integrate your project management and change management efforts, a shift in focus and priorities needs to occur in order for project managers to begin effectively managing change within your organisation.

    However, this also doesn’t mean that it has to be viewed as change management versus project management. They can work side-by-side with ease and for your project to be truly successful you should include both in your planning process.

    We highlight below three ways in which the focus of a change manager may differ from that of the project manager.


    Project focus

    Project management and change management share the aim of increasing the likelihood of the project or initiative to achieves the intended results. In order to achieve this, the first question that is likely to come to mind for most project managers will be: “How much is this going to cost?” As change managers are primarily concerned with the people side of change they will be thinking: “What’s the importance of cost, time, and quality if no-one actually uses the new system?” Change managers will be more focused on ensuring better adoption and usage of the new ways of working required by the change and not just the user acceptance training part of this equation. The activities that occur after training to enable impacted employees and managers generate a minimum viable level of proficiency and ability in the new ways of working will be as, if not more, important as the training itself, in determining if it is safe to successfully Go Live.


    Measuring success

    Project managers often only have their success level measured by working to the pre-determined project timeline, KPIs and whether or not the project came in under budget, on time and to specification. To assess change management performance - the generation of the portion of project ROI that is directly related to impacted employees changing the way they work -  it will be important for the project manager, sponsor and change manager to agree KPIs for employee speed of adoption, proficiency levels and ultimately how many impacted employees are required to make the transition for it to be judged a success. The earlier these change management KPIs are set and agreed in the project lifecycle the better

    With project management, there are clearly defined and measurable goals, just as in change management. Both relate to project ROI - the project management goals are more technical related, the change management goals more people related. 


    Change Management Methodology

    Project management, especially at the enterprise level, is a highly-formalised process, involving clearly-defined phases, techniques, methodologies and stakeholder roles. Effective change management, for it to be successful, also requires a similarly formal process and methodology, supported by a set of tools. In leading organisations these two methodologies are seamlessly integrated in the areas of people, tools and processes.


    Interested in Change Management courses? 

    If you would like to learn more about virtual change management courses and workshops have a look at our online courses page.