Change management is an ongoing effort for most large organizations, but it can be a confusing concept to anyone who’s not involved in the activity. Unlike project management, which has a formal structure and follows a defined schedule, change management is a more reactive and unpredictable process. In many cases, change management efforts are intended to be low-profile, so employees may not even be aware that change management is taking place.
Whether you’re thinking of entering the change management field or are simply interested in how it works, this overview will help you understand why organizations invest in change management, and what it’s supposed to accomplish.
What is Change Management?
Change management is the process of helping employees or other stakeholders understand and adopt an organizational change. The change can be enterprise-wide, such as an acquisition by another company or a change in the company’s name and branding, or the change may be limited to a single business unit or department.
Change management is often related to project management. In some cases, change managers work in conjunction with project managers to prepare an organization for the change that the project is expected to produce. In other cases, the situation is reversed, and a change manager helps a project manager adapt the project to a change that has happened elsewhere in the organization.
Depending on what is happening within the organization and which groups are affected, the enterprise change management process can be aimed at one or more of the following goals:
- Increasing project return on investment: When an organization spends money to develop or implement a new business tool, the investment is only worthwhile if employees actually use the tool. This is perhaps the most common goal of change management—to help people incorporate a change into the way they do their work, so that the change can have its desired effect.
- Minimizing disruption: Some organizational changes, like acquisitions or changes in senior leadership, can leave employees feeling disoriented and insecure. Change management tools can help organizations reassure employees and get them focused on their work.
- Building employee morale: When employees experience changes, even small ones, they like to know that the organization has taken their needs into account. An effective change management process can be the difference between disgruntled employees and employees who feel energized and empowered by change.
No matter what goal your change management activities are trying to achieve, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open between change managers and project managers. Collaborative project management solutions like Clarizen can make this easier, as they allow all stakeholders to share updates on project progress and collaborate on documents, project plans and more.