I am prompted to write because of a useful paper: “Perspectives on the Formal Authority Between Project Managers and Change Managers” in the October/November 2014 Project Management Journal by Julien Pollack and Chivonne Algeo both of the University of Technology, Sydney.
I am in broad agreement with the authors on:
… project management focusing on … issues, including scheduling, managing a budget, change control, and procurement, whereas change management focuses on … activities, such as empowering change agents, developing a senior guiding coalition, ensuring their support, and removing organizational obstacles.
however I would have expressed it a bit differently.
For a project to deliver business value, broadly speaking, two things need to show up simultaneously at a future date:
- the technical deliverable (building, IT system, transport system,…) needs to be ready for use by the people, and
- the people need to be ready to use the technical deliverable.
The trick is that the disciplines that are involved in each like chalk and cheese. As project scale increases it becomes difficult for one human mind to stay with both disciplines. It is about as easy as simultaneously enjoying fine classical music in one ear and fine jazz in the other. So while one person (e.g. let it be a Project Manager) may be responsible for both the technical deliverable and the people side of change, in practice the two sides of the project are “uneasy bedfellows”. As the authors note earlier in the paper, the
These differences suggest that project managers and change managers do not see their managerial roles in equivalent ways.
The implications suggested by the authors for the relationship between project managers and change managers are compelling:
For project managers, the implications of this research suggest a need to find some balance between the need for control and direction that comes with a single point of account ability, and allowing change managers to have a distinct area of responsibility that they can deliver in their own way, while maintaining coordination between the project management and change management aspects of organizational change projects.