This tutorial presents a taxonomy for making sense of the scope of change management - including what is in scope and what falls outside of scope. Creating a working definition and scope for change management enables practitioners to be more successful and work effectively with others in the organization who are implementing change. This is also a topic for ACMP (Association of Change Management Professionals) that is currently under development. The goal of the ACMP work in this area is to introduce a working framework that can serve as a foundation for discussion on this topic in order to define the boundaries for change management, while at the same time creating an inclusive community for change practitioners.

Introduction - why it is important to establish scope

As with any discipline or methodology, it is important to establish the scope of change management. Boundaries are important to establish what activities fall under the change management umbrella and what work runs in parallel or conjunction with change management. Benefits of establishing a clear scope include:

  • Dividing work and avoiding overlap between disciplines
  • Ensuring that all key elements are addressed
  • Showing the relationship between existing techniques and approaches
  • Defining the skills and competencies to perform work effectively in a given area

In addition, there is an inherent risk of not clearly establishing scope. It becomes very easy for one group or function to believe that they are responsible for work that falls under the work responsibilities of another group - resulting in confusion and ineffective work steams. For example, imagine the confusion that would result in developing a new product if there was not a clear distinction between software development, hardware development, physical design and system test. The specific skills and competencies needed to develop software are very different from the skills need to design circuit boards or the physical housing for a product. In the same way, the skills and competencies for project management are specific and very different from change management.

Understanding the scope and boundaries enables both functions to work effectively together, and to avoid any overlap of activities that may create conflicts for the project. The boundaries also enable the separation of solution design, development and implementation from the actions required to manage the technical side and people side of that solution's deployment.

Introducing a taxonomy

The schematic below presents a taxonomy that can serve as a discussion framework for the key phases or elements of implementing a change within an organization, beginning with the recognition that a change is needed and ending with the realization of the desired benefits sought by the effort.

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Objectives and Examples

Recognizing that a Change is Needed

Objective:  To identify the internal or external stimulus resulting in  need for change


  • Internal performance
  • Customer inputs
  • Competitive threats
  • Financial results
  • New business opportunities
  • Regulatory changes
  • Strategic planning


 Solution Design and Development

Objective: To create a solution to improve the performance of the organization based on the recognition that a change is needed


  • Vision and strategy development
  • Process design / BPR
  • New technology
  • Restructuring
  • Merger / Acquisition
  • OD interventions
  • New product offering
  • New service offering


Solution Implementation

Objective: To install a solution that meets technical requirements and is adopted and utilized


  • Pilots and trials
  • Systems and tools deployment
  • New process implementation
  • Transition to new organization structure and job roles
  • Implementation of compensation, appraisal or incentive programs


Project Management

Objective: To manage the tasks, resources, budget, time and scope of technical design and implementation


  • Project planning
  • Schedule development and tracking
  • Resource management
  • Budget development and control
  • Issue tracking
  • Project oversight
  • Project reporting


Change Management

Objective:  To encourage employees to rapidly, completely and proficiently make the required changes to their day-to-day work


  • Readiness assessments
  • Change portfolio management
  • Change saturation analysis
  • Employee engagement
  • Change management strategy
  • Change management planning
  • Change sponsorship
  • Communications during change
  • Training new skills and abilities
  • Coaching employees through transitions
  • Resistance management
  • Performance measurement


While some overlap between disciplines is normal and to be expected, this taxonomy will be a starting point for discussions about scoping change management. This framework can assist with internal discussions about "who is doing what" and how can you make sense out of the many elements of successful change - from recognizing the need to developing the solution to managing the technical side and people side of the solution deployment. The goal is to create an inclusive framework that allows the discussion to separate out the many skills that a change practitioner may have (they may be project managers, change managers and contribute to the solution design) from the disciplines that are being used to successfully realize change.

Five Levels of Change Management Maturity article

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.