Manage Change for Engineering Success

Make change management meaningful and real.

By Tim Creasey

Tim Creasey

According to Prosci’s Best Practices in Change Management— 2014 Edition, 71% of companies expect to see significant change over the next two years, and 77% of those companies are already experiencing what is known as change fatigue. Companies are running into issues delivering on the expected value of these changes. Too often, organizations can check the boxes for on time and on budget, but fail to achieve project success because they are not working to catalyze employee adoption of desired solutions. That is where change management—the practice of planning for and actively managing individual transitions during the project—comes in.

A growing trend in project management is integrating change management within the project workflow. Both disciplines bring necessary structure for effectively implementing change; project management focuses on the technical side, while change management focuses on the people side. When the two are applied in unison, project managers are meeting objectives and achieving results at a higher level. In fact, 62% of project managers that were already integrating the two disciplines met or exceeded their project’s objectives, compared to the 45% of project managers who were not integrating and met or exceeded their objectives.

The question then becomes how do you integrate the two disciplines and what are the most pressing roadblocks you will face?

Support and Buy-in

With change management still being a relatively new concept, some project leaders and managers do not see the value or importance of change management or perceive change management as overhead that slows down the project and eats into the budget.

Make change management meaningful and real by tangibly connecting it to what the project is trying to achieve. Ask project leaders to clarify the goals and objectives of a project, then have them identify what percentage of achieving each of those benefits depends on people adopting and using the solution the project brings. Pitch change management as an effective method of managing the people side of change, which makes projects more likely to be on schedule and on budget.

Another frequent problem involves making sure change management is involved early on and consistently throughout the project. Often change management is brought in when the project’s solution is going live, or worse yet, after go-live when people are not adopting as hoped. This does not allow the time or endorsement needed to effectively apply change management and influence individual transitions.

Be structured in your change management approach and ensure that planning and strategy development take place in collaboration with the project team. By asking important change-management-oriented questions early on—such as, “How much of this project’s success depends on adoption and usage?” “Who is being impacted by this change?” “How will their jobs be different?”—you can position change management as a success factor early in the project lifecycle.

Starting Integration

Even if the project team recognizes the value of change management, project and change managers often stumble when figuring out how and what to integrate between change management and project management activities, tools and roles.

When integrating project management and change management, consider these steps:

• Decide which tools and processes to combine;

• Make change management part of the project plan and charter;

• Maintain transparency and access to more information;

• And create collaborative teams to include both change management and project management practitioners.

Begin by gaining foundational knowledge and insights into your organization’s project management processes. Understand the function of the change practitioner’s tools, and the project manager’s tools. Then, you can identify connections, overlaps and similarities between project management and change management, which will uncover opportunities to integrate.

Role Clarity

Within some organizations, project management is sometimes considered change management or vice versa. This common struggle underscores the need to define and clarify the roles of change management and project management. Be preemptive about defining and clarifying roles. Identify activities that might result in overlap when it comes to which role carries out which task, and discuss these activities upfront with the project team.

Together, these needs show just how important it is to recognize and communicate that change management and project management are intrinsically and inextricably tied to the realization of organizational results and outcomes.

Tim Creasey is chief development officer at Prosci. He co-authored the book Change Management: The People Side of Change and led Prosci’s last six benchmarking studies. Send email about this article to [email protected] and learn more at

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