The Project Management Structure for Change Management

Project Management Structure for Change Management

Change is delivered through a change project or programme of works, so that project management provides a structure for change management. It’s managed through project or programme management structure but tends to require additional protocols to manage the people side of change if the risks and impacts to people are high. There are many good reasons to undertake business change and you will know better than anybody as a leader in your business how urgent the need for change is.

Whatever approaches are used to manage the project, whether Agile or Waterfall models, each of which has their esteemed places in the process, project or programme management are a change management methodology that enables change leaders and business leaders to implement their change agenda in a way that is open, transparent, measurable and trackable.

Change management is about finding the best way to guide your organisation and put it into the best state to predispose it to drive and realise value through its activities. 

Organisational change is the backdrop to change management and a Project management structure allows us to define parallel and phased workstreams that let us create a parcel of deliveries that constitute the relevant change. There is an overarching piece about what the change strategy is. 

The Business Case for Change and how a Project Management Structure helps

Business cases and organisational objectives must be linked to both the project management methods and the change management strategy at as granular a level as can be managed. Isolating the state changes and transitions required to go from the as-is organisation to the to-be or target organisation is the work of Target Operating Models and Business Transition workstreams and very often the people management processes remit end up here. What’s true is that Change Management seeks to find the most effective way to get to the most satisfactory and sustainable outcome for people and cannot always just focus on the efficiency of that process because it is can be like asymmetrical warfare. A Project Management structure for change management is an attempt to streamline the process and create a measure of efficiency.

So what are all the different things that may need to be different? Well, people, process, operations, technology, tools, functions, organisation design, ways of working, roles and responsibilities, relationships with internal and external suppliers and vendors – any and all of these and more may need to change. All while the organisation and its activities cannot stand still! It’s clear that change will affect ways and modes of working, terms of reference and most challenging of all, behaviours.

If change management provides the vision for reframing the organisation, Project Management must focus on building on the components of that change, however, the main characteristic of change management is that people are central to success. How these two are aligned and reconciled is through the Business Transition Function. It’s necessary to define and measure milestones. The objectives of the change define the milestones and the project management process helps to propel, align and measure it but will tend to be focused on the technicalities of meeting the milestones. This is why Business Transition as a discipline is the absolute linchpin of both successful change management and project management. Business Transition recognises the people change element of the change landscape and endeavours to put people change at the center of the process. A Business Transition PM can focus and champion the people and participation side of change and should be an integral piece of the change management puzzle.   

Project Management structure to Change Management


The effective integration of change management principles into project management protocols depends on reconciling the human element of the change through every step of the project.  

For Change to Succeed, it Must be People-oriented

A top tip for change and project management success is to start with people and prioritise activities related to them and plan around selling and persuasive behaviour to encourage the adoption of the change. Have dedicated processes across the workstream that provides a touchpoint for the user and other impacted stakeholders community. Given the sums spent on business transformation, it is rash not to do so. But I can tell you companies make this mistake every day. 

They make this mistake and they miss valuable inputs and lessons, and engagement that ultimately leads to small errors and faults or colossal failures. Failures are like fault lines; they may not show up on the day the project is delivered or even closed but you start getting people taking time off with illness or stress, or they leave, and brand reputation is impacted. New changes, and there are always more, end up having a multiplier effect on these existing issues.

Mergers and Acquisitions or new technology or regulatory requirements, drive changes in the banking sector for example, but regardless of the sector, these types of changes will throw up significant people challenges. Sustainable Benefits realisation is dependent on people-oriented change, notwithstanding the project management structure adopted. Sustainability is relevant the project may seem to be a success if you deliver the new tech for example but if you then face low levels of adoptions, face the expense of keeping legacy systems and ineffective people as a result, not having breached budget and time does not make it any less a failure than if you had. And the costs are not negligible, not just in the terms outlined above but in cold hard cash.

Chinenye Ikwuemesi

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