Hey everyone, welcome to yet another exciting and revealing article comparing Project Management and Change Management.

At the end of this article, you’ll have a full understanding of the differences, similarities, processes, and so much more about these two professions.

In addition, you’ll also learn about their different roles and how the two professionals work together.

Specifically, we’ll discuss in detail:

What is project management?
Change management process in project management
Project management process in change management
Critical differences between project management vs change management.

So, stay with us as we take you through everything that sets project management vs change management apart.

What Is Project Management?

According to the PMBOK, project management is a discipline of initiating, planning, executing, and controlling the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet success criteria.

Project management involves using methodologies, processes, and people to initiate, plan, execute, monitor, control, and close a project.

Also, project managers use different methodologies depending on project needs to meet the project’s success criteria.

Throughout a project’s life cycle, project managers are at the center stage: initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and control, and closing.

The project management practice is guided by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

PMBOK has all the guidelines, best practices, and terminologies used in the project management industry.

However, while project management focuses on the successful execution of projects, change management focuses solely on the people side of things.

This includes managing the impact of change on the future state of the project.

Its primary focus is on helping organizations manage changes that arise from projects or other initiatives.

Apart from this difference, there’s more to project management vs change management.

Now, let’s see what a project manager does daily.

Typical project manager duties

Project managers have many responsibilities, all geared towards ensuring that the project outcome meets the project deliverables outlined at the beginning of the project.

Their duties involve:

  • Defining the start and end date of the project.
  • Defining the project goals, scope, and deliverables plus the timelines to hit specific milestones.
  • Create the project plan by defining and organizing tasks and their timelines.
  • Allocate tasks to the project team and manage the team members.
  • Allocate and manage the resources and the budget.
  • Implement change projects and ensure project requirements are met.
  • Identify and manage risks that crop up as the project progresses.
  • Monitor project progress and report the same to the board of management and other stakeholders.

If all these are done by a project manager, what does a change manager do in a project?

What Is Organizational Change Management?

Projects usually have a lasting impact on organizations.

Thus, change management ensures everyone is on board for project success by helping people affected by the change transition smoothly.

There’s the inner circle in a project, those who are part of the project delivery team.

This group understands the need for the project and its impact, but their roles stop at the project completion.

Also, since the changes that arise from the project may permanently impact the organization and the stakeholders, those outside the project team are prone to be anxious and confused.

They could further resist the project altogether.

That’s where change management comes in.

Change management’s sole purpose is to ensure project success by effectively communicating the reason behind the project change to the employees and stakeholders.

Also, the change management team works hand in hand with the project management team and the stakeholders.

They help employees understand the need for the changes and their effect on daily duties, overall roles, and department functioning.

The team further guides them on how they can effectively adopt and adapt to the changes moving forward.

The change management process has three stages, planning for the change, managing the change, and reinforcing the change.

However, the change management team implements strategies that deal with the change and ensures project sustainability through these phases.

Overall, change management is vital in project management because a project will fail without buy-in from the employees.

Typical change manager duties

Change managers are responsible for every aspect of change in a business.

They are the key players in ensuring stakeholders are on board and there’s minimum resistance.

Here are the key responsibilities of change managers when there is an organizational change through a project.

  • Manage the change management team throughout the change process.
  • Define the scope, goals, and deliverables of change management.
  • Perform an impact assessment to determine the extent of disruption a project will cause.
  • Identify and categorize stakeholders before assessing their readiness for the change initiatives.
  • Device and implement a strategy to communicate and coach leaders to support the change and become part of the change champion network.
  • Monitor project progress and report the same to stakeholders.
  • Manage stakeholders throughout the transition period to ensure they adapt to the change
  • Work with the project management team to identify, communicate, and manage change to minimize resistance.
  • Ensure successful implementation of projects.

Change Management Process in Project Management

More often than not, projects have a change aspect even when there are not purely change projects.

Even when projects are not transformational, they might change how things are done in an organization.

The change part of change projects refers to anything that might cause employees or stakeholders to do things differently from how they usually do them.

Thus, any project that impacts how employees do their jobs requires change management to ensure that the employees quickly adopt the new changes.

Change management in project management is targeted towards helping people change their behavior and embrace the overall project goal.

However, since change management projects are projects, they follow the project management process.

The only difference is that they are a specific type of project whose impact causes change.

The change aspect here is during scope assessment, where project managers organize resources, plan tasks, and schedule timelines into a change project plan.

Every change management plan requires a project management process.

However, not every project requires change management, as not all projects transform how people do things in an organization.

Do Project Managers and Change Managers Work Together?

Organizations and businesses allocate big budgets, time, and resources to ensure project success.

Project management is crucial as it helps these organizations to meet their strategic goals.

The downside, however, is that project management doesn’t address the impact of the project on the employees or the existing processes.

And yes, the key stakeholders involved and the project team may be fully aware of the project’s impact and how it will change the overall organization function.

Still, this is just a tiny percentage of an organization’s workforce.

The changes will equally impact the rest of the organization members not involved in the project.

This group is more likely to face anxiety, doubt, and confusion since they are not fully aware of what these changes may mean to them or their career.

Change management professionals take charge here.

Instead of waiting until employees question how a project will influence their employment in the company, change management professionals help the organization transition smoothly.

They relieve employees’ stress by making them understand the project’s impact and thereby increase the rate of buy-in.

Hence, change management professionals are technically part of the project team.

They attend the project meetings.

They collaborate with the project team to ensure a holistic approach to the project management process.

Change management professionals ensure the project strategy highlights all the potential changes and sufficiently addresses them.

Change management focuses on creating a smooth transition from the project initiation, execution to completion.

Hence, project managers and change managers work together to ensure all the changes that come with accomplishing a project are addressed to minimize the impact on the staff, services, and processes.

Key Differences Between Project Management vs Change Management

Although they are both an integral part of ensuring organizations meet their strategic goals, project management, and change management are different disciplines.

The main difference between change management and project management is that project management focuses on all the initiatives required to complete a project successfully.

In contrast, change management focuses on the people affected by the changes arising from a project.

But that’s not all.

Let’s now shift our focus to the other differences between project management vs. change management.


Change management focuses on ensuring the employees who are impacted by change adopt the change and embrace the solutions to address the changes.

Project management, on the other hand, ensures the projects are delivered successfully.

Tools used

Project management tools include work breakdown schedule, tracking, project charter, resource allocation, Gantt chart, business case, statement of work, and budget estimate.

On the flip side, change management tools include readiness assessment, coaching plans, reinforcement mechanism, individual change modes, sponsor roadmaps, training plans, resistance management, communication plans, and coaching plans.

Scaling factors

When it comes to scaling, change management looks into attributes of the impacted organization, characteristics of the change, and the degree of change required.

In contrast, project management focuses on the complexity of the technical changes of a project or an initiative.


Change management has three phases, preparing for change, managing the change, and reinforcing the change.

On the contrary, the project life cycle has five phases, initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and control, and closing.


Project management is implemented by the project manager and the project team, who include the organization’s representatives and experts on project methodologies and practices.

On the contrary, change management is implemented by executives, senior leaders, managers, and supervisors.

The executives and senior leaders are the people who sponsor the project.

The supervisors and managers handle the change reports and coach the organization on the changes.


Project managers collaborate with the program manager and the project team to meet the project objectives.

On the other hand, change managers work hand-in-hand with the project management team to have a holistic overview of the project and how it will affect the different stakeholders in an organization.

Measure of success

Change management is on the people’s side.

The success metrics here are how soon the impacted employees adapt and utilize the recommended changes.

Another success measure is the proficiency and the achievement of outcomes.

The key focus is not on the entire team but on how employees adopt and use the new product or service.

On the flip side, project management measures success on whether the project was completed on time and within budget.

And whether all the project requirements were met and the outcome achieved.


When it comes to comparing project management vs change management, the two differ in approaches and focus.

However, both are crucial to ensure project success.

The two professionals, project managers, and change managers, thrive in a symbiotic relationship.

Apart from meeting project deliverables, they also ensure the whole organization team is on board with the project to reap the benefits.

If you’re not sure of which of the two professions is best for you, some of the frequently asked questions below may be of great assistance.


Frequently Asked Questions







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