While the skills required for change and project management are often similar there are crucial differences between the two. Change management provides a structured framework to transition individuals and organizations from one state to the next. Project management is concerned with meeting a clearly defined outcome with a specific budget, scope and quality standards. Below we will look at the characteristics in more detail which defines the difference between change and project management.
Project Management Has A Specific Measurable Goal
One of the primary differences between project and change management has to do with the nature of the desired outcomes. With project management there is a clearly definable and measurable goal. Whether this goal has or hasn’t been achieved can be easily established and evaluated. Change management typically involves less tangible and measurable ideas about what is being achieved.
Project Management Necessitates A Timeline
An important part of project management is establishing and keeping to a time line. A timeline will establish dates for when deliverables must be met. However when it comes to change management there is no defined time line. Change management involves input from stakeholders in the business throughout the process. This means that as the idea is being developed it will be implemented over an undefined time period.
Milestones Are Integral To Project Management
Milestones are an integral part of the project management process. These milestones help to keep a project on track and provide a means to measure progress. Milestones for a project will established at the outset before the project begins. With change management there are not specific milestones that need to be achieved. Change management is an open and consultative process. When done properly change management will involve input and participation from the employees which can alter its progression.
Project Management has a Limited Scope while Change Management Does Not
All good projects will have a definable and limited scope. The scope defines what the project will achieve and what is outside of the project. Scope is critical because without it, project creep can occur where the project continues to expand without getting closer to its defined goals. With change management the scope can be very broad or not defined at all. For example a change in company culture will not be able to be defined within a particular scope.
Change Management Involves the Input of Multiple Ideas
Change management is effective when it openly involves all stakeholders in the change. Therefore it will typically involve a multiplicity of ideas and viewpoints to realize the vision for the change. In contrast project management only requires a single idea from which it can be developed. So, for example, if an organization wants to improve employee performance while operating an enterprise software, project managers might focus specifically on reducing errors, or picking up speed and efficiency (WalkMe is an effective solution in both regards), while change managers would focus on the bigger picture, from all angles.
Change management techniques are an integral part of ensuring that a project is able to deliver on its desired outcomes. While change management is often incorporated into project management it is important to understand the differences in techniques and their implementation. Using both types of management correctly is critical to realizing the final goal of the organization.
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Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.