Data & Intelligence

What is Change Management?

Written by Matt Stehling

Project managers are tasked with change management throughout the life cycle of a project’s duration. The balancing act required to implement changes in a project with an established scope, cost and schedule is challenging. When project managers apply change management, the impact changes will likely have on project cost and/or schedule are identified and weighed against the benefits the changes intend to achieve for the business.

Therefore, the dominant focus in change management is on the achievement of operational benefits. Changes often occur during the course of a project are a result of:

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  • External factors (e.g. company buyouts, rules and regulations, etc.)
  • New products or product lines
  • New services or processes
  • New systems or system upgrades
  • Cyberspace security threats

The success of changes typically depend on established processes to identify, define, evaluate and integrate in to a project’s scope. Change management processes such as these, span all phases of a project. In general, project managers are responsible to ensure that change management activities represent and reflect upon project management best practices. The following section highlights change management best practice activities.

1. Identify/Explain Need for Change
Most web site creation or migration projects, as an example, have a clearly defined scope. It is, however, very difficult to foresee every nuance of every web page or integration touch point. Therefore, the “need” to conduct scope change will ensure successful delivery of the change.

2. Identify Change Management Resources
Change management should be led by a project team member that is recorded in the project charter or statement of work.

3. Identify Stakeholders and Expectations in the Change
Change management stakeholder identification and grouping will facilitate more efficient risk analysis to the acceptance and adoption of the change.

4. Change Communication
Unrecognized benefit and lack of understanding are two primary forms of trepidation to a change effort. Encourage stakeholders to bring forth questions and concerns regarding the project, and determine a place, team member and process for reviewing and responding to related queries.

5. Plan Change

  • Define the change approach; collect change management requirements
  • Define, sequence, resource, and budget change management activities
  • Identify measures to weigh the change benefits
  • Identify risks to change acceptance


6. Implement Change Process
Project managers ensure that changes are assessed for impact on schedule, budget, and resource requirements.

7. Change Deliverables
Delivering the actual approved changes as project deliverables.

8. Sustaining Change
In order to successfully implement change, it is important to emphasize and follow through with the activities mentioned above, in addition to other project management best practices.

In summary, change management in the project management context is crucial to a project’s success. Factors that drive change are not always foreseeable or controllable. This reinforces the need for change management processes and activities to be identified, communicated and implemented in order to ensure achievement of the benefits a project intends.

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