The disciplines of change management and project management both contribute to the success of an organizational project or initiative. By integrating these disciplines, from the initiation of the project through to completion, we connect the people side and technical side of the change and ensure that the organizational benefits of the change are realized.
Prosci's Unified Value Proposition model illustrates that project management and change management are complementary disciplines with a shared definition of success: to meet or exceed project objectives and realize organizational benefits.
The technical side of the change focuses on designing, developing and delivering the solution that solves a problem or addresses an opportunity. The discipline of project management provides the structure, processes and tools to make this happen.
The people side of the change focuses on engaging the people impacted by the solution and supporting them to adopt and use the change in their daily work. The discipline of change management provides the structure, processes and tools to accomplish this outcome.
Prosci's Unified Value Proposition
A helpful analogy for understanding the Unified Value Proposition is to consider two strands of rope that are different colors. One strand of rope represents the technical side of a change, and the other strand represents the people side of the change. If you intertwine the two strands of rope, you will have a stronger rope. Similarly, if the individuals involved in addressing the technical and people sides of change work together collaboratively, they will deliver a more successful change.
Prosci benchmarking research shows that 47% of participants who integrated project management and change management reported meeting or exceeding project objectives, which was 17% greater than those who did not integrate.
Integrating change management and project management contributes to increasing change success by:
Creating a shared objective
When we integrate project management and change management, we enable both disciplines to focus on a shared objective: improving the organization’s performance by successfully implementing a change that delivers the intended results and outcomes.
Enabling a more proactive approach
Integrating change management with the steps of project management enables us to proactively identify and mitigate risks, anticipate and address obstacles and resistance, and build commitment to and adoption of the change.
Improving sequencing and alignment
When we integrate technical activities and people activities, the right actions can be taken at the right times in the project lifecycle to ensure people are ready and able to adopt the change and produce successful outcomes.
Prosci’s research reveals five dimensions that should be addressed when integrating change management and project management:
The people dimension of integration addresses who is performing the change management and project management roles and the team structure (also referred to as the governance model) that defines the relationship between these roles. In Prosci's Best Practices in Change Management research, 67% of participants had dedicated change management resources for the project on which they were reporting. At the most basic level, the change management resource(s) may be on the project team (Team structure A) or support the project team externally (Team structure B). Prosci's benchmarking data noted that 33% of participants used Team Structure A.
There is no right or wrong team structure, just differing advantages and challenges that you need to be aware of and prepared to address. For example, having the change management resources on the project team (Team Structure A) encourages more transparent communications and information flow between the team and the impacted groups. Other advantages include developing an integrated project approach that encourages teamwork and collaboration, and the creation of feedback loops to relay questions and concerns from impacted groups to the project team.
Having the change management resources separate from but supporting the project team externally (Team Structure B), promotes neutrality and enables them to offer an independent point of view. Other advantages include the ability to focus exclusively on change management and direct access to leadership.
The choice of integration approach is typically based on the nature of the project and norms of the organization. It’s important to acknowledge that many change practitioners do not have control over or major influence on the selection of the team structure used on a particular project. For example, the team structure may already be established before the change resources are selected.
Even if the team structure has already been established, there are actions you can take to support the effective integration of people and roles.
The process dimension addresses how the phases, stages and activities of project management and change management come together during the project lifecycle. Integrating the process dimension enables these complementary disciplines to more effectively exchange information, sequence work, and align the timing and desired outcomes for project milestone dates.
The image below illustrates, at a high level, the alignment of the project management phases for a sequential change and the Prosci 3-Phase Process for change management. The image also shows how we align ADKAR milestones to project management milestones. For example, we align Ability for members of impacted groups with the Go Live milestone date.
You can increase the opportunities for process integration by beginning change management activities early in the project lifecycle, ideally at the project initiation phase. The earlier change management is started, the more effective exchanging information, sequencing work, and alignment on project milestone dates will be.
Using a process-driven approach with distinct deliverables for change management further improves the potential for successful change. If the change management approach is not process-driven with specific deliverables and milestones, it is difficult to effectively integrate change management with project management.
The tools dimension focuses on identifying opportunities to integrate specific tools and the associated deliverables created by both the change management and project management disciplines. For example, communications plans and risk assessments are tools commonly used by both disciplines. Integrating commonly used tools creates opportunities for collaboration between the disciplines, reduces duplication of effort and promotes common understanding.
The following chart indicates which tools were most frequently integrated. Communications plans were integrated the most (91%), followed by project plans (81%) and training plans (79 %).
While integration along the people, process and tools dimensions occurs at the project level, integration of methodologies occurs at the organizational level. This dimension involves creating a standard approach to project delivery by skillfully combining the organization's project management and change management methodologies.
Integrating methodologies involves decisions about when and how the methodologies interact and diverge. An integrated methodology is often part of a greater strategy for institutionalizing change management which Prosci defines as enterprise change management.
Integration on the results and outcomes dimension acknowledges that change management and project management are complementary disciplines with a shared definition of success. In the end, both project management and change management improve the organization’s performance by helping it realize the benefits of making a change. This dimension focuses on establishing a shared definition of the results and outcomes for a specific change and how each discipline contributes to the achievement of those results and outcomes.
In many ways, this dimension is where integration begins. When we can successfully integrate our view and definition of what we are trying to achieve, the rest of the integration elements begin to fall into place. Rather than an "us versus them" mentality, integration on the results and outcomes dimension drives a team approach.
Projects and initiatives are more likely to be successful when we integrate the disciplines of change management and project management. An integrated approach increases the probability that project objectives will be achieved and that the outcomes of the change will be sustained. An integrated approach also enables project managers and change practitioners to work towards a shared definition of success, more effectively align and sequence activities, and avoid duplicating efforts by integrating common tools.