Definition of change management (2023)

How often do you ask colleagues and employees, “What is change management?” Although many of us intuitively know what change management is, we can struggle to define it concisely for others.

Change management defined

Prosci definedchange managementas the application of a structured process and set of tools to guide the human side of change to achieve a desired outcome.

In defining change management for others, it is helpful to discuss it in the context of two closely related concepts: change itself and project management.

Definition of change management (1)

(Video) What is Change Management? Change Management process.

The change itself

A change is the project, initiative, or solution introduced in the organization to improve the way it works, solve a problem, or seize an opportunity. Almost every project, initiative or solution that improves an organization impacts the day-to-day work of employees.Proscis 10 aspects of change impactshows how a person or group can be affected by a change:

Definition of change management (2)The idea of ​​becoming “more competitive” or “closer to the customer” or “more efficient” can be the motivation for an organization to change, but at some point these goals need to be translated into concrete impacts on those processes, systems, tools, etc .Here's whereProject management and change managementCome in.

Project management and change management

It is not enough to just dictate change and expect it to happen. Successful change starts with an understanding of what needs to happen for the change to happen and with hard work. Project management and change management are separate disciplines that are applied to organizational change to improve the likelihood of success and return on investment (ROI). These distinct but closely intertwined disciplines are necessary to bring about change.

Project Management – ​​​​The technical side of change

Laut PMBOK des Project Management Institute®Guide, project management is the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to deliver something of value to people.

While project management is typically associated with a traditional waterfall approach, there are numerous ways to implement projects. Change management can be used alongside any project management method such as Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Waterfall and PRINCE2.

Regardless of the approach used to design the technical solution, change management focuses on preparing, equipping, and supporting individuals to embrace and utilize the changes.

Change Management - ​​The human side of change

Change management is the application of a structured process and set of tools to guide the human side of change to achieve a desired outcome. We apply change management by helping individuals affected by a changesuccessful personal transitionsthat enable them to engage with, embrace and take advantage of a change.

(Video) Change Management-Definition and Types of Organizational Change-BMR

Both project management and change management support moving an organization from a current state (how things are done today), through a transition state, and into a desired future state. Project management focuses on the tasks required to successfully design, develop, and deliver the project, initiative, or technical solution. Change management focuses on the people affected by that change and empowers them to advocate for, embrace and use the change.

Definition of change management (3)

In iterative projects, results are achieved through repeated cycles or approvals of changes, with each cycle moving toward the final, intended outcome. Iterative project management is typically associated with agile approaches to designing, developing, and deploying solutions. Change management comes alongside the project management approach and focuses on preparing, equipping and supporting individuals to embrace and take advantage of the changes, regardless of whether they are deliverediterative or sequential.

Definition of change management (4)

Note that the technical side is not necessarily "technological". Although projects are sometimes technological in nature, the technical side applies to all changes. This includes cultural changes, mergers and acquisitions, policy updates, and other projects or initiatives that may or may not involve technology.

Every organizational change has both a technical side and a human side, and each requires separate resources and tools to make the change a success.

discipline and focus
sample processes

project management(Technical page)

Design, develop and deliver the solution

The areas of the Project Management Institute:
  • Stakeholder-Performance
  • team effort
    Development approach and life cycle performance
  • planning service
  • performance of the project work
  • delivery performance
  • measurement performance
  • uncertainty performance
  • Specifications
  • Project charter
  • Business case
  • Work breakdown structure and/or project backlog
  • Budget estimates
  • resource allocation
  • Milestone schedule (e.g. Gantt chart or sprint release planning)
  • persecution
  • Risk Identification and Mitigation
  • Performance and compliance reports

change management*(person page)

Empower people to engage, embrace, and leverage the change


Prosci 3-phase process:

  • Phase 1 – prepare approach
  • Phase 2 - Manage change
  • Phase 3 - Get results
  • ADKAR Modelfor individual change
  • Prosci Change Triangle (PCT)-Modell
  • ADKAR-Blaupause
  • sponsorship plan
  • People Manager-Plan
  • Communication plan
  • training schedule
  • Expand plans as needed

goals of each team

The project management team is working to move the technical side of the change from point A to point B. Such project management activities relate to the processes, systems, tools, etc. that will be affected by the change, which means people's jobs will be affected.

(Video) What is Change Management?

The change management team works to help those affected by the change to willingly support or accept the change, embrace the change as their own, and apply the change as expected (i.e., embrace the change, embrace it). and to use).

The following example shows the transition from function (a) to function (b).

Definition of change management (5)

The goal of project management is to use resources effectively to design, develop, and deliver the project, initiative, or solution. The goal of change management is to help each individual affected by the change to make a successful transition while considering the requirements of the change.



The change itself

To improve the organization in any way, e.g. B. reducing costs, increasing revenue, solving problems, seizing opportunities, aligning work and strategy, or streamlining the flow of information within the organization (i.e., the project, initiative, or solution).

project management

Realizing project goals and organizational benefits from successful change by designing, developing and delivering the technical solution - taking into account time, cost and scope constraints - and using resources effectively (i.e. managing the technical side of changes).

change management

To realize project goals and organizational benefits by applying a systematic approach to help people affected by change move through their individual transitions so that they can successfully engage in, adopt and use a solution (ie. managing the human side of change).

Scope of change management and project management

Almost every organizational initiative or project requires some level of project management and change management. There are very few instances where you don't need both disciplines. Each of the following projects require separate project management and change management in addition to deploying the change itself:

  1. Deploying an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution across the enterprise
  2. Revision of the work processes and contact scripts of your call center agents
  3. Integration of two organizations and their information systems after a merger or acquisition
  4. Implementing new virtual collaboration tools for a distributed workforce
  5. Development of a new sales channel

Do project management and change management look the same for every initiative? Usually no. While most require at least some, each discipline works best when tailored to your unique situation, organization, culture and history, and the specific change you are implementing.

The amount and type of project management you require depends on the complexity, degree of change, and level of flexibility required in solution design. The level of change management engagement required depends on how disruptive each employee's day-to-day work is. It also depends on the attributes of the organization like culture, value system and history with past changes.

Integration of change management and project management

While they are different fields of study, they are change management and project managementintegrated into practice. The steps and activities move in unison as teams work to move from the current state to the desired future state.

(Video) Simple Definition of Change Management and How Does it Work?

Change management and project management planning activities

As an example, consider the activities that take place during the planning phase of a project or initiative.

Project manager:

  • Identify the milestones and activities that need to be completed
  • Outline the resources needed and how they will work together
  • Define the scope of what will and will not be part of the project

Change managers:

  • Work out key messages that need to be communicated
  • Work with sponsorsForm active and visible coalitionsby senior executives
  • Notify affected employeeswhy the change is necessary

The most effective projects integrate these activities into a single project plan.

Understanding has advantages

It can be difficult to differentiate between change, project and change management. In practice, these three components are closely intertwined to produce a positive outcome for the organization. butunderstanding of the differencesMakes troubleshooting much easier when a change isn't progressing as expected.

For example, do the challenges come from:

  • The design of the change (the project, the initiative or the solution itself)?
  • The technical process, activities or resources (project management)?
  • How do individuals accept or resist change (change management)?

When you understand the differences between change, project management, and change management, identifying corrective actions becomes clear. And when you know what each component is designed to achieve, it's no longer difficult to define change management for others.

show all articles


1. What is Change Management? - Prosci
2. What Is Change Management In Project Management Terms?
3. What is Organizational Change Management? | Introduction to Change Management
(Eric Kimberling - Digital Transformation)
4. Defining Change Management - Prosci
5. What is Change Management? | Change Management Tutorial for Beginners | Invensis Learning
(Invensis Learning)
6. What Is Change Management - A Process You Have to Know


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