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Change management vs. project management compared 7 min read
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Many people confuse project management and change management because they’re each management processes that center around tasks and stakeholders. However, which processes or people you manage differ in each scenario.

Understanding the differences —and overlap — between project and change management can help you perform better and delegate work more accurately. Today we’ll discuss the differences in these concepts, how they are managed,and how any team can use to boost efficiency.

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What is change management?

Change management is the process of supporting the people affected by organizational changes with appropriate training and tools.

For some companies, this looks like a communications plan that ensures all team members know of an upcoming change and then slowly begin implementing it. However, complete change management involves a change manager who looks at all aspects — how might an upcoming change affect people? What tools, training, or support might they need during the transition and moving forward?

What is the difference between change management vs. project management?

Project management teams use specific skill sets to deliver something of value to current and potential customers or companies. For example, a project may revolve around creating a new product or service. Or a project’s purpose may be to brainstorm, design, and implement new processes to increase employee engagement throughout the organization.

On the other hand, change management involves the application of a structured process, tools, and training that leads the people side of change. Change management aims to support the individuals who make up a project team in implementing change that helps achieve the desired project outcome. A change manager may even support a project manager by providing them with the management tools necessary to move forward more efficiently.

How do the roles of project manager and change manager compare?

Although both are management positions, the roles of project manager and change manager are quite different. The primary differences in these scenarios include:

  • Purpose: Change managers focus on supporting individuals, while project managers focus on achieving results.
  • Length: A change manager and project manager are both temporary or consistently changing positions that must be flexible. However, a project manager is usually in their role for the duration of a project. In contrast, a change manager only works in a specific position during change implementation. Therefore, a project management position tends to be involved in a project longer.
  • Processes: A change manager uses strategies that focus on individual achievement and change adaptation. A project manager uses processes that focus on meeting benchmarks and achieving clearly defined objectives.

Exploring how your organization can use change management can help you even better understand these differences.

Examples of change management for an organization

There are many times to use change management in your organization. However, a few of the most common times are during mergers and acquisitions, changes in leadership, implementation of new technology, or times of crisis.

Mergers and acquisitions 

During a merger or acquisition, an organization makes significant changes in how a company functions and even its organizational culture. For example, leadership may change, and there may be a widespread rebranding effort. Using change management during this transition can make it easier for existing workers to adapt and continue thriving in current roles.

Changes in leadership

When an old CEO retires and a new one steps in, there may be multiple changes in daily operations. Even if things primarily run the same, everyone has their own way of leading. When it comes to upper-level management, these small changes can trickle down to affect every employee. Using change management during this transition can ease tensions and uncertainties about leadership changes.

Implementation of a new technology

Often, an organization implements new technology to create significant long-term benefits. However, every new technology has a learning curve, and some employees may find it easier to understand than others. For example, you may introduce a new point-of-sale system to your storefronts, or you could implement a new employee engagement software program in your human resources department.

A change manager can ensure the appropriate employees are thoroughly trained to use the new technology. Then, they can identify individuals who may be struggling to adapt to the new technology and allocate more time or resources to their training.

During times of crisis

Unfortunately, times of crisis do occur. An excellent example of how change management can help during these times was seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, many companies used change management to implement new strategies and processes that kept employees and customers safe while allowing workflows to continue as much as possible.

Whether you’re integrating a new tool or implementing procedural changes, a technical solution that keeps your teams organized and communicating can drive better project or change management.

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Using project management features to effectively manage change in your organization can help you manage change in your organization more effectively by:

  • Creating seamless collaboration: Our Work OS allows teams to collaborate seamlessly, even when working remotely. Employees can work on projects in real-time, leave notes, and share documents within the application.
  • Tracking progress through changes: Detailed data and analytics let you track progress through changes to see where your company is thriving and where additional resources may be necessary. With this information, you can make better-informed decisions about resource allocations, timelines, and other factors during changes.
  • Enabling resource management: Our operations management platform can support managers during change by providing an accurate breakdown of resource use. You can use this to schedule time effectively, plan new hires, or request additional resources when applicable.
  • Supporting workflow automation: Change management can sometimes be challenging, but automating routine workflows can make the transition significantly more manageable. Save time and ease frustrations with automatic task approvals and other functions.
  • Supplying customizable dashboards: You can customize dashboards on our platform to suit your organization’s unique wants and needs. See the information you need, when, and where you need it, to make management more straightforward and reduce error risks.

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FAQs about change management vs. project management

Is change management part of PMO?

Change management is sometimes included as part of the project management office (PMO). However, there isn’t a clear definition of whether the role falls within the PMO, as not all modern companies assign it as such. But, many companies do include project change management as part of the PMO, with organizational change management falling elsewhere.

What is another word for change management?

Many companies prefer to use the term implementation management instead of change management. However, these two terms mean the same thing.

What are the three types of change management?

The three types of change management include:

  1. Developmental: Focusing on improving existing processes, skills, and methods.
  2. Transitional: Focusing on replacing one process, skill, or method with an entirely new approach.
  3. Transformational: Focusing on implementing new approaches where the future of doing so isn’t clearly defined (which separates it from transitional change management).

Manage any type of change or project successfully with

Although change management vs. project management is often confused, the two require distinct types of management methodology. Change management focuses on the people affected by specific projects, tasks, or processes. On the other hand, project management focuses on the project itself. gives you and your teams  the support you need for either discipline from start to finish.

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