With the new launch of our “How To Integrate Change Management and Project Management” webinar replay in the Prosci® Portal, refresh your knowledge of why it is so important to integrate change management and project management earlier in a project rather than later.

Change management can be applied to many types of business improvement programs—from radical changes like BPR, mergers and acquisitions or new product releases to incremental changes like continuous improvement processes or Six Sigma. Change management is the process and tools—such as communications, sponsorship, coaching, training and resistance management—for addressing the people side of change.

Change management is not an event. It is a process of helping individuals understand, internalize and support a change. The challenge for project teams is to effectively integrate change management with their project management activities.

Conceptual Business Improvement and Change Management Processes

To see how integration takes place, we begin by looking at a conceptual picture of a business improvement process and a change management process. Although the pictures below show high-level steps, most business improvement processes (TQM, BPR, Six Sigma, reorganization, etc.) contain the five steps below. Likewise, while the change management process will vary and be more complicated than shown below, these five areas represent some of the major activities of change management.

The Benefit of Starting Change Management at the Beginning

Your starting point changes what you do first. If you begin change management when you begin your project, you are able to integrate the change management steps into the project steps, as seen in Scenario 1 below. If change management comes in much later in a project, you’ll have to implement change management much differently.

Scenario 1: Change Management at the Beginning of a Change

In this scenario, someone from your team (like you) introduces the importance of change management and the people side of change at the project initiation. Alternatively, your organization has made a commitment to building change competency and is utilizing change management as a standard practice on every project. When change management is started at the beginning of a project, the activities can be fully integrated.

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Your first step will be to develop a change management strategy based on the characteristics of your particular change and the attributes of your organization that is being changed. Change readiness assessments will help you decide on your strategy and how you will customize the change management plans you are going to develop.

Scenario 2: Change Management During Implementation of a Change

Unfortunately, change management is sometimes added on to a project after it is well underway. The project team may be preparing for implementation or implementation may have already started, and often times the catalyst for using change management is resistance by employees, supervisors and managers.

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In this situation, your project has already begun to experience difficulties, including productivity declines, active and passive resistance, and possible loss of valued employees (all of these can be prevented or minimized when change management is integrated from the very beginning). In this scenario, your first activity is to find out what has already happened. You must take the pulse of the organization, identify the source of resistance, why it has emerged, and manage it effectively and quickly. After you have controlled the damage that is already done, you move into the change management process and develop a strategy for the rest of the project.

Research on Integrating Change Management and Business Process

Those regularly practicing change management agree that change management should be brought on as early as possible.

 from the Prosci Best Practices in Change Management Report - 2016 Edition shows when participants started change management, and when they would start change management next time:

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Best Practices in Change Management - 2018 Edition Executive Summary

Written by
Tim Creasey
Tim Creasey

Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.