Posted On March 18, 2016

project plan mapped on white board

As organisations moved to more project-based work, the more capable players were often hand-picked to manage those projects. Specialised training was few and far between, so somehow they stumbled through initiating and implementing a project and on occasion they may have even delivered on time and on budget.

If these accidental project managers were lucky, they may have been supported by a framework such as the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) or later PRINCE – two robust methodologies that provide a more sequential understanding of facilitating a project from go to whoa!

The local project scene

In this country, the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) has been instrumental in advancing the profession of project management. In 1995, AIPM officially incorporated PMBOK into the national competency standards for project management.

From here, project management emerged as a real career option with several Australian universities introducing project management as a discipline that could be studied at an undergraduate – and later post graduate – level.

Ongoing challenges

But the experts kept telling us that something was missing.

Project failure rates were staggeringly high with KPMG finding that 86% of organisations reported a shortfall of at least 25% of targeted benefits across their portfolio of projects. Only 2% reported that all of their projects achieved the desired benefits. (Source: KPMG – Global IT Project Management Survey, 2005).

The rise of change management

And then, right on cue as if ushered in by this woeful record of project management, change management enters the fray.

Ten years ago change management was an unknown entity. These days if you enter ‘change manager’ in a job search you’ll get thousands of responses – many more than if you searched for a project manager role.

Change management has rapidly become a popular approach to driving an organisational change.

Whilst formal definitions often vary, project management and change management usually have a different perspective as shown below.

Project Manager vs Change Manager

Supporting the change process are several theories and models that have recently proved very popular. These range from the seminal Kübler-Ross change cycle to Kotter’s 8-step process and more recently the Prosci model with its ADKAR methodology. Each of these approaches provides an insight into supporting people through significant change.

What type of manger do you need?

In a nutshell, both.

Projects will always need some element of change management. The reality is that in many small or medium sized projects, the project manager is also required to be the change manager.

Whilst there is a distinction between change management and project management, they clearly overlap and should be integrated within projects across an organisation.

Any project manager worth their salary should be familiar with change management methodologies and adhere to a project management framework. In the end this hybrid approach is likely to build project capability and deliver project success in your business.

If you’re looking for well-rounded entry level training for your up-and-coming project managers, our recently refreshed Project Management Fundamentals course includes a module dedicated to change management.