How Change Management complements Project Management

Adedayo Ajibola

The rate of change in our society started to accelerate long before COVID-19 arrived. Even though the pandemic is not over, it is clear that the world is moving into new, unexpected and unpredictable directions, at a rate even faster than before 2020.

As businesses evolve, in a world of continuous change accompanied by an increase in projects being completed, business change management has become ever more important – a discipline that project management needs to be aware of and involved in. Project management focuses on the processes and activities needed to complete delivery and installation of systems or processes (such as a new software application) while change management focuses on the people affected by those projects and implementation of the processes (or other changes within the organization).

“For every €, £ or $ spent on change in a project, there is a 43% ROI gain (€0.43 for every €1). By contrast, projects with poor change implementation lose €0.65 for every €1 spent”:

“Change Management that Pays”, McKinsey Quarterly, 2002,

Project management teams focus primarily on fulfilling the strategic objectives of a project. Change management complements the project management process by supporting the human side – it is increasingly recognised that a project’s measure of success is significantly impacted by the way in which the desired project outcomes are achieved and additional value is realised.

Within a project stakeholders are often made up of cross functional teams and varying backgrounds, who require management through interactive two way dialogue so they can support and advocate the project and overall transformation. Without buy-in from these stakeholders or the rest of the organization, a project’s outcomes can be impeded.

Change management enables the maximum number of people to make a change, in the shortest possible time, with maximum capability, in order to deliver business benefits quicker. “Change” is people, process and (… systems). The more people are required to work differently, the more effort is needed on change management, to support them as they go through the process. It considers factors such as the individual change journey, change fatigue, adoption and reinforcing the change.

Project management and change management differ in approach, processes and tools employed but complement each other; since projects can have a significant and lasting impact on the business and its stakeholders, both disciplines are necessary when executing a project or initiative and should be employed hand in hand to ensure a project’s long-term success.

As a Change Management Facilitator Adedayo Ajibola is all about assisting businesses to help their people navigate change within the organisation. She is a certified Project and Business Change professional and founder of Horoma Limited; a management consultancy based in Reading, UK. She appreciates feedback and discussion on project and change management and can be reached at contact@horomalimited.com

Scatterwork Guest: How Risky is my Project?

How risky is my project?

When you developing a business case for your next project, take a moment to ask yourself that question: “how risky is my project?”

My name is Jonathan Norman. I published nearly 120 books on projects and programs for Gower Publishing and I wanted to ask you that deceptively simple question: “how risky is my project?”

That’s not the same question as “what are the risks facing my project?” nor is it the same question as: “what is the likelihood that I can deliver to schedule and cost?”

There at least three further sets of questions you need to ask yourself before you can respond to this question

Question 1: How do I feel about risk? Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with taking a risk?

Question 2: how competent are we at managing risk and specifically the risk or risks associated with the project in question?

Something may be inherently risky but if you have done it before and you have learned how to recognize and respond to increased levels of risk, then your attitude towards it will be different.

And thirdly, “risky by comparison to what?” What else are you doing? What other projects do you have in your portfolio?

The point I’m making is that risk is about context, perception & attitude. How you and I and various stakeholders will feel about risk will differ according to your attitudes to risk.

Have a look at the risk attitude model which was developed by David Hilson and Ruth Murray-Webster in their series of books on risk attitude and risk appetite.

According to Ruth and David, how we perceive risk, whether we see something as risk or an opportunity, how big a risk or opportunity is considered is tied up with these fundamental questions:

Have I seen this risk before? What is my automatic reaction and how do I feel about it?

These are powerful questions and I recommend that you ask yourself and others these questions on a regular basis.

Ask the major stakeholders and make sure they understand how risky the project is and double-check that you and they understand each other.

You may also be presented with a complex set of weightings and probability as part of a risk profile. This can be tough to relate back to the project so ask yourself these simple questions in relation to the risk at hand and make sure that intuitively your attitude and your sense of risk accords with the mathematical calculation.

If it doesn’t, then either the risk calculations are wrong or you need to think about re-calibrating your risk response.

All projects imply a certain degree of change and some projects are inherently all about change. Becoming more familiar and comfortable with risk is part of that change.

So there’s one other question you may like to add to the mix in the future. No longer simply ask: “how risky is my project?” but “how risky should it be?” Thank you for listening.

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