Needs and tips for integrating
change management and project management
Module 4 in the Integrating Change Management and Project
The disciplines of change management and project management cross paths throughout the execution of an initiative. Each brings necessary and critical structure for effectively implementing change and realizing results - one with structure and intent for the technical side of change and one with structure and intent for the people side of change. As change management has emerged over the past decade, the interaction between change management and project management has become increasingly important. Even new change management practitioners know that getting the project team on board and engaged in change management can make or break an initiative.
Building on the tutorial series released earlier this year on integrating change management and project management, this tutorial presents research findings on obstacles practitioners face regarding integration, along with tips to help you be more successful in bringing together these complementary disciplines.
The reality of integrating project management and change
As practitioners in the field of change management continue to integrate project management and change management, they are faced with common obstacles. Over the past year, Prosci has delivered a webinar on integrating change management and project management three times (November 17 & 18, 2011; February 22 & 23, 2012; November 7 & 8, 2012). In each of these webinars, Prosci asked attendees the following question: "What are the most pressing topics or issues you are facing regarding change management and project management integration?" What follows is an analysis of the most common needs identified by webinar participants along with tips for dealing with them.
Top 5 common pressing issues
Webinar attendees responding to the question about the most pressing topics or issues related to integrating change management and project management identified five common needs.
1. Support and buy-in for change management from project teams
The most pressing issue regarding integrating project management and change management identified by webinar attendees was gaining buy-in, awareness, and support from the project team around the importance of change management. Participants felt that project leaders and project managers did not see the value or importance of change management. Additionally, some respondents dealt with project teams that perceived change management as overhead that slowed down the project and ate into the budget. Project teams lacked an overall awareness of the importance and value change management provided to the change effort.
Tip: Make change management meaningful and real. Connect with what the project team cares about, which means it is focused on the ability of the project to deliver the intended results and outcomes through better adoption and usage of the solution by employees. Additionally, since many project leaders are concerned with delivery "on time and on budget" - an effective pitch for change management shows that by effectively managing the people side of change, projects are actually more likely to be on schedule and on budget. To make change management more real to project teams, present change management in their terms. Present change management as a credible, structured and intentional approach, guided by processes with concrete milestones and deliverables. The more rigorous and structured you make change management feel, the more support you gain from project teams.
2. Support for change management from leadership
In many organizations (but certainly not all), the practice of project management is well established and senior leaders believe it is necessary to achieve business results. In fact, no project in these organizations would be launched without applying project management. The findings from these 520 respondents show that it is not always the same case for change management, even though managing the people side of change is imperative to achieving the desired business results of a project. But respondents report that leaders and sponsors have a limited awareness of the need for change management, which impedes the critical integration of change management with project management activities. The leadership team needs to treat change management as equal in order to ensure the integration is not only adopted, but effectively producing results.
In addition to impeding integration of project management and change management, a lack of awareness of the importance of change management in the eyes of leadership impacts resource allocation and budgeting; scarce resources are often applied to project management in lieu of change management. Leadership support for and commitment to change management is critical for effective integration.
Tip: Connect change management to what executives and senior leaders care about - achieving the intended benefits and value from change. The case for change management should be directly tied to the ultimate results and outcomes of the project. By making a direct connection between how well the people side of change is managed and the ultimate ROI of the project, you can shift the context and the conversation.
3. Scope, timing, and prioritization
The third most pressing issue identified by webinar attendees involves scoping the project to determine how much change management is required on a project, prioritizing which projects require the most change management, and making sure change management is involved early on and consistently throughout the project. Respondents shared that change management is often brought in after project initiation, which does not allow enough time to properly apply change management.
Tip: Be structured in your change management approach and ensure that planning and strategy development take place in collaboration with the project team. By asking important change-management-oriented questions early on—such as, Who is being impacted by this change? How will their jobs be different? What role does adoption and usage play in the success of the change?—you can position change management and help provide clarity on the scope of the change management challenge at hand.
4. Direction on how to integrate
The details of how to integrate was identified by respondents as the fourth most pressing issue when it comes to integrating project management and change management. The focus was on what tools and processes to combine,
making change management part of the project plan and charter, maintaining transparency and access to information, building roadmaps, and creating collaborative teams to include both change management and project management practitioners. Respondents also expressed open communication between project management and change management to enhance integration as an important need (learn more about the four dimensions of integration
Tip: Provide specific, concrete opportunities for integration. This begins by gaining foundational knowledge and insights into your organization's project management processes. Encourage project managers to do the same for change management. Understand the function of not only the change practitioner's tools, but also the project manager's tools. Then, you can identify connections, overlaps and similarities between the project management process and the change management methodology, which will uncover opportunities to integrate.
5. Role definition and clarity
According to the respondents, project management is sometimes considered change management or change management is sometimes considered project management in their organizations. There is a common struggle when it comes to defining, clarifying, and enforcing the roles of change management and project management. This includes separating the role of the change leader from the project leader.
In addition to role confusion, there were also instances of an inaccurate or incomplete definition of change management. In some cases, change management is only viewed as communications or training. Some respondents even said that project teams perceive change management's role as "damage control." Clarity around who should follow up with stakeholders and who should take accountability for project outcomes were also an obstacle.
Tip: Be preemptive about defining and clarifying
roles. Identify activities that might result in overlap when
it comes to which role carries out which task and discuss
these activities up front with the project team. Also, keep
in mind what appeals to project teams while you work to
define the roles. To avoid a misunderstanding that the role
of the change practitioner is to carry out overhead
activities, busy work, or "damage control," give
examples of how the tasks done by the change practitioner
are equally concrete and purposeful as those done by the
project team. One short example could go something like this:
practitioner completes risk assessments, works with sponsors
and directs activities to help plan for, manage
and ensure the successful adoption and utilization of the
change by impacted groups." These types of examples will
help to legitimize, define and clarify the role of the
change practitioner while differentiating it from the role
of the project team.
As you begin or continue the push to integrate change
management and project management in your organization, you
might come across one or more of these pressing issues
identified in the 520 responses from webinar
attendees in the last year. Together, these needs show just how
important it is to recognize and communicate that change
management is intrinsically and inextricably tied to the
realization of organizational results and outcomes, as is project management.
To learn more about integrating change management and project
management, check out these tutorials:
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