Home » Change Management Vs. Project Management

Change Management Vs. Project Management

In the current day & age, the overall success of a particular enterprise is highly dependent on its overall ability to adapt to fresh business environments throughout its development process. And to do so, a proper structure must be created so that new techniques of innovation & thinking will be able to properly tackle the technical side of things and the human side while also aligning perfectly with the corporate & employee structure of the organization.

It should be realized that even though Change & Project Management might seem similar, they’re two sides of a single coin. Both of them are principles of management that help in involving different goals & achievements. However, if both of these procedures can be combined, then the best overall success for an organization can be obtained. Therefore, in today’s topic, we’re going to explore the key differences between Project Management & Change Management.

What is Change Management?:

Change Management can be defined as the process of using tools, people, and methods to efficiently assist enterprises to manage various changes that take place mainly due to project initiatives. Additionally, Change Management is also used in managing other factors which can affect the outcome of a project initiative.

The various objectives of Change Management:

  • Always work towards change integration and sustainability
  • Properly communicate progress
  • Managing risks on the people-side-of-things
  • Planning & creating strategies for adopting change as well as obtaining timely realization of benefits
  • Closely following the life cycle of Change Management
  • Manage & motivate people who are experiencing the process of change

What is Project Management?

Project Management can be defined as the process of application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques so that a project can be planned, initiated, monitored, and executed properly. Project Management tends to have a certain start & end date, that includes milestones, tasks, goals, final deliverables, and requirements.

The various objectives of Project Management

  • Using the tools and carrying out the procedures for managing a project from the beginning till the end
  • Closely follows the Project Management lifecycle
  • Always focuses on project cost, time, scope, and quality
  • Properly managing risks
  • Offer solutions for project delivery
  • Communication of progress and the overall impact of the solutions on the goals of the project

Change Management vs Project Management – in brief

Change Management tends to have:

  • More focus on people
  • No standard guidelines
  • Less formal outlook than Project Management
  • No specific timeline
  • More focus on managing the impact of the change from a project or organizational developments

Project Management tends to have:

  • Well-documented standards and guidelines
  • A very specific timeline
  • More focus on technical systems & procedures
  • More focus on managing project activities to meet specific requirements & goals

Change Management vs Project Management – in detail

  1. Objectives

According to the definition of Project Management, it’s defined by a set of tasks, processes, and strategies that can be utilized to guide any team throughout a project and thus reach the objective. Projects will always have a defined target date when it comes to completion, which can change depending on the circumstances.

Alternatively, Change Management involves a particular strategy and process which is designed to assist enterprises so that they can adapt to fresh changes. Such a process is carried out by altering the internal & external factors, ultimately impacting the organization.

Thus, it can be easily seen that Change Management doesn’t include a specific list of tasks. Instead, the process adapts over time as the organization goes through the change that they’re managing. Even the deliverables are not defined. Change Management will continue to evolve with the changing challenges & conditions of the organization, unlike Project Management.

2. Methodology

The methodology used by either of these processes makes the ideal distinction between them. It should be known that Project Management, mainly at the enterprise level, is a highly formal procedure that involves phases, stakeholder roles, methodologies & techniques which are clearly defined.

Even though Change Management may share some of the above-mentioned characteristics in terms of individual cases, they’re not the same at the enterprise level. Usually, Change Management tends to be highly unpredictable.

Project Managers always chalk out the plan of their entire project beforehand, even before the work begins its course. On the other hand, Change Managers need to be prepared for some of the most unexpected developments and reactions, which is why they might need to alter their approach as they progress and evaluate.

3. Focus

When it comes to Project Management, the primary focus would be on the tasks and activities which are necessary to implement and thus develop technical solutions in completing a project.

On the flip side, Change Management focuses primarily on the employees of the organization, who have been impacted by the change.

4. Responsibilities & training

Since Change Managers and Project Managers handle different types of work, the roles also tend to be different. This means that the training process for each manager will be different and the areas of expertise will also be diverse.

In most cases, Project Managers start their careers by slowly developing expertise in a specific field. And as they gain experience & knowledge, they start leading the projects. Moreover, Project Managers nowadays hone their skills using the PMP or Project Management Professional certification.

On the contrary, Change Managers or management experts usually come from specific backgrounds in management consulting or communication. Change Managers tend to have a deeper understanding of how high-level organizational decisions are undertaken, which can directly affect the employees, customers, and vendors. Since there’s no specific course in Change Management, most Change Managers out there build their expertise by earning the PMP or any other Project Management certification for themselves.

5. Reporting procedure

When it comes to reporting, the procedure followed by either of the two management processes is different. For instance, in Project Management, the Project Manager will report directly to the stakeholder or the project sponsor.

But, when it comes to Change Management, the situation is two-sided. On some occasions, the Change Manager will report to the project sponsor directly. And on other occasions, the Change Manager may have to report to the Project Manager, especially if the Change Manager is working with a Project Manager in large-scale projects.

6. Success measurement

The success of Change Management can be measured by the overall speed of adoption of change along with the efficiency & achievements obtained by the organizational employees.

However, the success of Project Management is measured in technical elements such as meeting the time allocated for the project, the budget, and the achievements.

7. Process followed

Usually, in Change Management, the following procedure is followed:

  • Change preparation (Phase 1)
  • Change Management (Phase 2)
  • Change reinforcement (Phase 3)

On the Project Management side of things, the following procedure is carried out:

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Control & monitoring
  • Closure

8. Tools utilized

In Change Management, the following set of tools are used:

  • Training plans
  • Individual change model
  • Coaching plans
  • Communication plans
  • Mechanisms for reinforcements
  • Managing resistance to change
  • Roadmaps for sponsorships
  • Readiness assessments

Similarly, in Project Management, the following set of tools are utilized:

  • Gnatt chart
  • Work statements
  • Business case
  • Project charter
  • Tracking & scheduling
  • Estimates for budget
  • Breakdown of the overall work structure
  • Allocation of resources

Advantages of incorporating Project & Change Management together

Since each of these management procedures focuses on different aspects of a specific project, using them together will help obtain greater organizational success.

  • Efficiency enhancement

There will be moments when working independently of each other can lead to miscommunication, redundancies, and inefficiency. There’s no denying that all of these aforementioned factors will directly result in a very messy situation and the outcomes will not be tasteful. But, if Project Management and Change Management teams and procedures can work together in harmony, a strategically & holistically better project outcome can be achieved.

  • Better alignment

When Change Management and Project Management are integrated into a specific project, it allows the teams to align both their procedures together in the most logical & effective sequence. That means aligning the people and technical activities will help the teams take the correct decision.

  • Mitigation of risks

When the teams of Project Management and Change Management work separately, the team members might miss significant opportunities & risks to mitigate or manage any risks. But, when the two procedures are connected, planning milestones & delivery becomes easier.


From the aforementioned information, it can be easily deduced that Change Management tends to cover strategy implementation & communication during moments of transition within an organization such as a change of business culture or undertaking a new project. On the other hand, Project Management is all about efficiently handling the stakeholder interests so that certain business activities can be completed successfully.

However, the sheer truth is that – more than 70 percent of change initiatives undertaken by organizations tend to fail and only 58 percent of all organizations out there understand the method of sizing up the Project Management value. Therefore, when two of these methodologies are used separately, they provide very little success than using them together. Thus, the ideal step would be to forego the differences between Change Management and Project Management, and thereby use them simultaneously whenever necessary.