Knowing the Difference: IT Change Management vs. Organizational Change Management

Even companies at the leading edge of tech, who have massive amounts of resources and skilled labor, face a lack of prioritization on the people side of information technology (IT) change management. It’s one of the main business challenges that has plagued the industry for decades.

According to the thousands of executives surveyed for the Prosci Best Practices in Change Management – 12th Edition Report, the top three obstacles for enterprise IT and services companies during change initiatives are:

  • Insufficient engagement and management from relevant stakeholders (23%)
  • Misaligned organizational culture, attitudes and beliefs (17%)
  • Lack of leadership buy-in and support (16%)

The common thread is that IT companies struggle to manage these changes successfully because of the technology's impacts on people and not because of the technology itself. This often stems from a lack of distinction between IT change management processes and organizational change management (OCM) concepts. Confusion arises from the similarity in terms, but understanding the focus of each can clarify their distinct roles.

IT Change Management

IT change management focuses on the systematic approach to managing updates and modifications to IT services, minimizing the potential impact on service disruptions and adherence to protocols.

These protocols are based on industry best practices from Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) and Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

Organizational Change Management

Methodologies and frameworks that address the human elements of change within IT organizations aim to facilitate smoother transitions and greater adoption of technological changes, reducing the negative potential impact on business objectives.

These methodologies are based on the confluence of research across fields like psychology, sociology and managerial science.

The Prosci instructor and advisory board are full of professionals who have experience working in the IT sector. This advisory board has contributed at the highest level to help enterprise companies bridge the gap between technical solutions and people-centric strategies. They know exactly how big a difference OCM can make to IT change initiatives and have witnessed firsthand the business objective justification for investment.

In the realm of IT, [organizational] change management isn't just a process; it's the foundation upon which service quality and customer satisfaction rest. It empowers organizations to navigate the digital landscape with confidence, ensuring they are agile, resilient, and prepared for the future.
—Mavourneen Mainelli
Former VP—People and Process Transformation
Benjamin Moore & Co.
My passion is enabling people, teams, and organizations to successfully manage change, so they can proactively deliver better outcomes. By engaging with people to help them understand the reasons behind the change, I empower them to own it and drive it.
—Chris Flynn
Former Global Executive, Client Success & Operational Excellence

Why IT Companies Are Investing in Enterprise Change Management

IT enterprises constantly navigate through waves of change—from groundbreaking advancements in cloud computing and artificial intelligence to innovations in hardware and software. The widely adopted ITSM and ITIL practices prioritize continuously integrating new technology into service delivery to maintain a competitive edge and provide optimal value to customers. Maintaining seamless digital operations without downtime or a major incident is imperative.

However, while their development methodologies evolve at a breakneck pace, the human elements within these organizations often struggle to keep up. Multimillion-dollar investments in technology are derailed by people-side business challenges like a lack of necessary skills and resistance to change.

More than one-third of participants in our Best Practices in Change Management research cited resistance to change as a top challenge in their organizations, including those in the IT sector.

Challenges to the Discipline of Change Management

A graph showing resistance to change in the workplace

With decades of experience applying organizational change management practices during digital transformation, Prosci knows how important people-side capacity building is for IT companies.

Using structured OCM methodology ensures that rapid technological advancements are matched with an equally agile and adaptable workforce. In fact, our research shows that excellent change management improves the likelihood of meeting or exceeding objectives by 7X.

Correlation Between Change Management and Project Success

A graph showcasing the correlation between change management and project success

By fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, IT change management methods help companies achieve their goals and desired outcomes with greater success. Plus, it allows them to secure a competitive edge in the market through more reliable service delivery.

For example, Microsoft adopted people-side change management to create an agile workforce and embed a culture of continuous improvement. This tech giant has invested in strategic alignment between technological innovation and human adaptability, allowing for more holistic and effective change management and ensuring both the technical and people sides of change.

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I had my ‘aha’ moment when I realized that the organization doesn’t change, but the people within the organization change. Suddenly, change management had something that was useful to me. That was in 2011 during a presentation on the Prosci ADKAR Model at Microsoft. I was just fascinated by this idea of the people side of change and the practicality of the Prosci ADKAR Model.


—Jean Claude-Monney 

Former Chief Knowledge Officer at Microsoft Services

With guidance from Prosci, companies like Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and Autodesk leverage organizational change management methods to navigate the complexities of technological evolution.

Pairing the IT implementation process with a people-side approach makes it easy for these tech leaders to equip their network with cutting-edge technologies to be prepared and resilient in the face of change—incorporating risk management tools to minimize potential risks to their operations and objectives.

How Prosci Helps Build Enterprise Change Management Capacity in the IT Sector

The Prosci Methodology supports companies navigating technological and people-related changes.

Refined over decades of research and application, our approach is flexible enough to fit the precise needs of IT companies while holding to the tenets of excellent change management.

The Prosci ADKAR® Model—which focuses on driving individual change through Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement—is particularly effective for IT change management. This is because it aligns with sequential, iterative and hybrid approaches to innovation to implement changes effectively across organizations.

For waterfall-style technical initiatives, networks and departments can match development milestones with specific ADKAR elements to ensure everyone is primed to accept change well before the go-live date.

Sequential Approach

Prosci ADKAR Model for change management


The Prosci ADKAR Model performs equally well when applied to the iterative development approaches popularized by Agile and Lean. In this case, Awareness and Desire for change are built early in the development and planning process.

Iterative Approach

Iterative approach for change management

Naturally, this means that the Prosci ADKAR Model is applicable in hybrid development environments using sequential and iterative approaches.

Helping Microsoft unlock success with Prosci OCM

Prosci has a successful track record in facilitating successful IT change management for major vendors. Microsoft, an early adopter of the Prosci Methodology, has particularly highlighted the importance of focusing on the people side of change management.

By prioritizing the development of change capacity, Microsoft has maintained a competitive edge, built an agile workforce, and cultivated a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Here are two prominent examples of how the Prosci Methodology improved outcomes for key Microsoft departments without disrupting service management.

1. Increasing customer adoption rates

Prosci recently collaborated closely with Microsoft Enterprise Services (MES) professionals to increase customer adoption rates. This network, specializing in project-based consulting, assists Microsoft enterprise customers with a more effective platform.

However, the rise of cloud technology and evolving market trends set new standards for MES and its base, highlighting the need for robust change management to boost revenue and customer satisfaction.

To enhance the credibility of its Adoption and Change Management services through a structured approach, the MES professionals sought expertise from Prosci, resulting in:

  • Granting an enterprise license for MES to tailor and expand the application of the Prosci Methodology
  • Certifying more than 2,250 employees as change practitioners to establish a solid foundation in change management
  • Providing access to essential change management materials for over 250,000 Microsoft employees worldwide
  • Tailoring training specifically for the consulting services used by Microsoft partners and customers alike

Within just four years of partnering with Prosci, the Microsoft Enterprise Services network witnessed substantial returns on its investment. MES-led change management workshops notably increased adoption rates among participating customers by 450%.

Read the full Microsoft success story here.

2. Seamless digital transformation

The Microsoft Investor Relations (IR) network is pivotal in facilitating clear communication among company executives, investors, and the broader financial community. Its key responsibility is distributing the company’s quarterly earnings reports to a vast audience, all while protecting sensitive financial information.

The IR engineering network recently embarked on an ambitious project to transition from an outdated publishing system to a modern, Azure-based solution, enhancing security measures. This critical venture demanded an intricate IT implementation process and considerable changes in IR personnel and procedures.

Understanding the vital importance of Organizational Change Management (OCM) in this process, Microsoft extensively incorporated the Prosci Methodology to ensure smooth IT change management, including:

  • Gaining endorsement from Microsoft’s top executives to support the initiative
  • Providing managerial coaching for the IR professionals to clarify key roles and delegate duties
  • Implementing role-based training to bridge skill gaps and prepare for potential challenges
  • Overcoming resistance and addressing concerns from the senior leadership
  • Maintaining steady communication with technical networks to guarantee the completion of all tasks

This excellent change management approach allowed the Microsoft Investor Relations network to successfully issue the crucial earnings report to millions of key stakeholders via the new Azure-based platform.

Read the full Microsoft success story here.

The Prosci Methodology, particularly its emphasis on individual and organizational change readiness, enables IT companies to steer the complexities of modern digital operations. By building change capacity within these organizations, Prosci ensures that both technological advancements and the individuals driving these changes are aligned, paving the way for successful outcomes in an ever-changing sector.

Change Done Right for Enterprise IT

Do you need to navigate the complex challenges of today's dynamic IT landscape? Prosci can help you build a change-capable organization while meeting or exceeding business goals—all while putting people first.