The disciplines of change management and project management understandably cross paths throughout the execution of a project or initiative. Each brings necessary and critical structure for effectively implementing change and realizing results.

Change management and project management must present a unified value proposition in order to achieve successful change. The unified value proposition sets the foundation for the tactical integration which is addressed in greater detail in the article, "Dimensions of Integrating Change Management and Project Management."

Setting the stage for integration

Setting the stage for integrationChange, at its most basic level, is about moving from a current state, through a transition state to arrive at a new future state. The goal of change is to improve performance in some meaningful way - so that performance levels in the future state are better than they had been in the current state. Organizations - both in the public and private sectors - introduce projects or initiatives as ways to add structure to change.

The movement from the current to the future state occurs on two dimensions. From a technical perspective, a solution that will address the issue or opportunity must be designed, developed and delivered into the organization. From a people side perspective, that solution is ultimately manifested in the behaviors, processes and day-to-day activities of employees in the organization. For the solution to deliver results it must be embraced, adopted and used by those groups impacted by the solution.

Project management and change management provide structured and intentional approaches to the technical side and people side of a project or initiative, respectively. This is the foundation of the phrase "complementary disciplines with a common objective" which describes these two disciplines. The common objective, in times of change, is to improve the performance of the organization with a project or initiative - to reach a desired future state. Project management and change management are complementary disciplines because they each provide focus, processes and tools for moving through the transition toward the future state. A successful change is characterized by a solution that is effectively designed, developed and delivered (project management) and that is embraced, adopted and used by impacted employees (change management).

Without an approach for both the technical side and people side of change, organizations are unable to deliver sustainable results through change. The unified value proposition of applying both project management and change management is actually quite simple: delivering intended improvement through successfully implemented change programs.

Value of the joint value proposition

The joint value proposition for integrating change management and project management is successfully reaching a future state on both the technical side and people side of change. In addition to the value of integrating the disciplines, there is additional value to change management practitioners in sharing this unified value proposition. How does presenting a joint value proposition help your efforts at change management?

Presenting a joint value proposition for integrating change management and project management:

  1. Strengthens your case for change management. With the joint value proposition, you are more able to get a "seat at the table" and be involved in early discussions, and you focus your conversation on what your audience really cares about - meeting objectives, staying on budget and finishing on time.
  2. Contributes positively to the perception of change management by project teams. Prosci's benchmarking research indicates that many change management practitioners are still dealing with project teams that perceive change management as extraneous or unimportant - a major obstacle to engaging with the project team. With a concrete unified value proposition, you have a foundation for shifting the conversation and overcoming this obstacle of negative perception. In essence, you are saying "we are on the same team, both focused on delivering results and outcomes for this change, so let's see how we can work together to be successful."
  3. Appeals to the desire of project teams for structure and process. By demonstrating that change management is not just "soft and fluffy" but in fact is the application of a structured process and set of tools aimed at delivering project results, you can begin speaking the same language as the project teams you are engaging.
  4. Identifies a problem while proposing a solution. The problem, in this case, is that projects are consistently failing to realize their full benefits, despite having a well developed and planned technical solution. A perfectly designed technical solution with low adoption and engagement by end users does not deliver value. The solution presented by the joint value proposition is a holistic approach to benefit realization resulting from an integration of project management and change management. Research and experience shows that meeting objectives, on time and on budget, results from a solution that is designed, developed and delivered effectively and embraced, adopted and used by impacted employees. By integrating change management and project management in a seamless application, you solve the problem of projects failing to deliver results even though they met technical requirements.

Examining the disciplines side-by-side

Below is an overview of the change management and project management disciplines - drawing comparisons across a number of horizons including focus, definition, intent, process, tools, scaling factors, measurement of success and practitioners. While this list highlights the differences between the disciplines, remember that the common objective is to deliver successful change.


Change Management is the application of processes and tools to manage the people side of change from a current state to a new future state such that the desired results of the change (and expected return on investment) are achieved.

Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.


Change Management - to ensure that the solution is embraced, adopted and used by employees impacted by the change

Project Management - to ensure that the solution is designed, developed and delivered effectively


Change Management - employees impacted by a project or initiative (those who must adopt and use the change)

Project Management - tasks and activities required to create and implement the technical solution associated with a change

Scaling factors

Change Management - characteristics of the change, attributes of impacted organizations, degree of "people" change required

Project Management - complexity and degree of technical change associated with the particular project or initiative


Change Management - From the Prosci 3-Phase Process

  • Phase 1 - Preparing for change
  • Phase 2 - Managing change
  • Phase 3 - Reinforcing change TM

Project Management - From PMBOK® Guide

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Closing


Change Management - Common tools used in change management

  • Individual change model
  • Readiness assessments
  • Communication plans
  • Sponsor roadmaps
  • Coaching plans
  • Training plans
  • Resistance management
  • Reinforcement mechanisms

Project Management - Common tools used in project management

  • Statement of work
  • Project charter
  • Business case
  • Work breakdown structure
  • Gantt chart
  • Budget estimations
  • Resource allocation
  • Schedule/tracking

Measurement of success

Change Management - Measurement focused on the "people side" of change elements, including:

  • Speed of adoption by impacted employees
  • Ultimate utilization by impacted employees
  • Proficiency of impacted employees
  • Achievement of results and outcomes *

* Because results and outcomes are dependent on individuals adopting the change, this is a primary focus

Project Management - Measurement focused on the "technical side" of change elements, primarily:

  • On time
  • On budget
  • Meets technical requirements
  • Achievement of results and outcomes *

* In some cases, intended results and outcomes take a secondary role behind time and budget targets

Practiced by

Change Management includes a system of "doers" throughout the organization, not just change management practitioners, including:

  • Executives and senior leaders: sponsoring the change
  • Managers and supervisors: coaching their direct reports through the change

Project Management is typically practiced by a project manager and a project team assigned to a specific project or initiative.

  • Project managers: manage the tasks, activities and resources to execute the technical side of the effort
  • Project team: comprised of subject matter experts and representatives from the organization


Project management and change management each contribute a critical ingredient to successful change. Although they vary in terms of focus and approach, each are essential in order to navigate the transition state to reach a future state. This article lays the foundation of integrating change management and project management. For best practices and tips for addressing the tactical and relational elements of effectively integrating change management and project management, check out these resources:

 Individual and Organizational Change Management Integration

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.