PM’s Organizational Change Responsibilities

As project manager, you have organizational change responsibilities for the projects you lead.  Your business and strategic role as a project manager requires you to have the knowledge to manage change that originates from your projects.  Knowing how to deal with organization change helps you reduce the impact to existing processes and individual employees while delivering value to your organization.

Successful Change Doesn’t Just Happen – It is Planned

Change is something you encounter in your organization and on your projects. Every project you do, because of its very nature is a temporary endeavor.  The creation of a new product or service involves change.  Organizations change when adapting to market factors including technology, compliance or disruption.  However, it is important to note that successful change is not a given.  Research has shown 70% of major change efforts fail, with only 25% achieving their stated objectives.

As you look at your role as a Project Manager, it is your responsibility to help support organizational changes that result from the projects we lead.  While it is critical to meet the project objectives, as PM you need to look at the deeper influencing factors to understand stakeholder needs, wants, concerns, fears and objections.  As project manager, you also need to understand the market and industry dynamics as well the organization’s culture and its ability to accept change.

People are comfortable with what they know and there is a certain level of resistance to change.  Change can also foster a resistance to additional change. Therefore, as you plan and execute projects, your role as a leader may need to evolve. You may take on the role of a counselor, educator, coach or booster throughout the project.  Shifting roles will help you keep key stakeholders engaged and able to move through the changes resulting from a project.  Consider this list of PM responsibilities as you seek to evolve your role:

  • Identify type of change
  • Evaluate current and future states to understand results required
  • Perform ROI and business case analysis to plan future state and transitions
  • Lead delivery of future state

Business Environment in PMP Exam Content Outline

In 2021, the new PMP Exam content outline changed to 3 domains. The new domains are process, business environment and people. Processes have been a core component of the previous exam content outlines and they are still important, representing 50% of the exam content outline. The reason for this update, according to PMI’s global practice analysis, is to further improve project success and reduce failure as well as address improvements in compliance, quality, efficiencies and business satisfaction.  The ultimate goal is to realize the project benefits and value more consistently.

Within the business environment domain, there are four (4) tasks that outline core responsibilities of project managers of which support organizational change is one. For reference, here is the PMP® Exam Content Outline. These work examples show how the organization influences the project and how your effort as PM includes preparing the organization for the result of the project. The work examples include:

  • Assessing the organizational culture
  • Evaluating the impact of organizational change to project and determine required actions and
  • Evaluating the impact of the project to the organization to determine required actions

So, what are some practical tips to help make your PM change management responsibilities easier?

Tips for PMs to Support Organizational Change

1. Evaluate the organization’s change readiness.

Evaluating your organization’s change readiness is important to measure readiness. Add this assessment during the initiating phase of your project plan alongside the development of your project charter. You can continue to reference and reevaluate it throughout the planning and monitoring of the project.

To start your change readiness analysis, review RMC’s Change Management Readiness Assessment tool.  It is an excellent resource that provides you with suggested questions to assess your organization’s current and future state readiness for change.  You can change, adjust and modify this document for each project.

2. Select the appropriate tools and techniques to analyze.

For the project to succeed, you must help stakeholders understand how their beliefs and actions must adjust in order to deliver the desired results.  And this means their experience will be different after the change. Using a variety of tools and techniques will help in planning and adjusting your projects.

  • Evaluate and identify stakeholder’s experience with the organization’s culture through observation, interviews and document analysis.
  • Understand how stakeholders’ experiences influence their beliefs and actions through focus groups, surveys and root cause analyses.
  • Evaluate and plan for change by asking questions, discussing the proof that a problem exists or the impact of the problem to recommend a solution.

You can represent your findings in your WBS. Include a project management branch that shows the outcomes and artifacts you are creating as deliverables as part of your change assessment and project planning. Then analyze them as part of your risk identification efforts.

3. Develop a planning check list.

A change management checklist helps you identify the specific actions you will take to plan for change. The form can help ask questions to identify why the change is needed, what is the desired result, who will be affected by the change and how will you measure the success of the change.

Want to Learn More?

Interested in building your change management skills? Consider an additional certification such as PMI-ACP or Prosci change management certification. You can also check out our Organizational Change Management webinar recording or our Leading Change eLearning course. Deepen your practical skills to use in your current projects, within your teams and throughout your organization.