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Business Change -v- Project Management


We regularly receive briefs from organisations interchanging Project Management and Business Change Management roles, when building teams to deliver their strategic change programmes.  These are two distinct disciplines with their own experience/accreditation profile, when mobilised correctly they can be very effective in delivering successful change.

There is a clear relationship between project management and change management, they regularly cross paths when implementing major change initiatives.  We have worked with many organisations with varying approaches, some project management roles manage the business change function and some business change managers have been responsible for the project management within an organisation.   In our experience, building Business Change into the main programme as a key deliverable brings synergy, structure and ensures the communication between the programme and the business is effective.

Building these two disciplines into a single team will ensure both are on the same trajectory for the change initiative and the outcomes and success criteria are fully understood.

Many change programmes can be a long time in the planning, testing and execution only to find that a key business consideration has been missed, resulting in re-works, delays and cost.    Business Change Management can be the real difference here, continually communicating out to the business and feeding back into the Programme, allowing for smaller, less frequent, less costly adjustments to the programme.

Identifying that these are two individual disciplines and engaging experienced quality resources that combine in one team can be a game changer in implementing major change initiatives.

The failure rate of major change programmes continues to be uncomfortable reading, despite the industry evolving and maturing over the years, this subject probably deserves an article of its’ own.  However, business engagement through strong change management is a key factor in preparing the business for technology or organisational change


Who does what?

The Business Change Manager (BCM) acts as the bridge between the project to prepare the business for change, understand the impact of the change on the business and ensure the communications between the programme and the business is robust and the business is heard.     Adoption and utilisation of organisational and technology change is a key role for the business change manager ensuring change is fully adopted and collaboration is fully leveraged.     The Business Change Manager is the channel for the business to communicate back into the Programme and to be heard.

The ‘BCM’ is constantly circling back to the business to check on the impact of technology and change, taking the temperature and mood of the business and how they feel about the change.

The ‘BCM’ will be responsible for identifying all colleagues who will be impacted by the change, creating Stakeholder maps, ensuring everybody who needs to make the change happen are engaged and communicated to regularly.   The ‘BCM’ will identify process/workflow changes, training needs, communication and coaching activities to facilitate a successful change initiative.  They will have laser focus on any changes in the solution and its’ impact on the business.

The ‘BCM’ will often still be engaged well after the project key activities have been delivered, measuring the impact of the change and driving adoption with measurable results.

The Programme/Project Manager (PPM) is responsible for executing and implementing the plan aligned to the change programme, managing scope, quality, risk and costs.  In our experience, building the business change function into the plan as a key deliverable brings measurable benefits.   The communications are effective, the goals are aligned, the quality criteria understood, timelines and business demands are agreed across both functions within one programme.  The PPM will assess risk across the programme for all work streams and take guidance from the Business Change Manager on risk and impact that has been identified as part of their risk assessment on the business.

A significant number of organisations do not have the depth of understanding of their estate to facilitate an effective change programme.   If you don’t know what your changing from, it’s difficult to plan and cost what you would like to change to.    The BCM is inherently valuable to any change initiative in surfacing key risks, dependencies and business knowledge, feeding back into the programme to divert, change and re-plan if necessary.

In summary, the Programme/Project Manager will focus on the processes and activities needed to complete the project, the Business Change Manager will focus on the impact of the change on the business, people and working practices.