The Benefits of Change Management for Your Projects

Shubhangi Pandey
By | Updated December 6, 2023 | 21 min read
Change Management for Projects

Key Take Aways

  • How change management is a critical component of project management that helps ensure successful project outcomes.
  • Why effective change management requires a clear understanding of the project’s goals, objectives, and stakeholders, as well as a well-defined process for managing changes.
  • Key elements of a successful change management process include stakeholder engagement, communication, risk management, and training.
  • Integrating change management into the overall project management process and should be viewed as an ongoing activity rather than a one-time event.


Change management and project management go hand-in-hand.

As a project manager, you are responsible for delivering something new, strategic, exciting, challenging, or complex to change an organization’s current status.

People often resist change for many reasons. They prefer the status quo; they fear losing their job – they may think they will be unable to learn something new.

Managing change has become even trickier as organizations and teams deal with the uncertainty and instability of a global pandemic. In this piece, we’ll look at change management and project management from two perspectives: short-term and long-term.

Focusing on short-term strategies helps organizations to implement changes quickly while ensuring employees are comfortable with those changes. This approach should be balanced with a long-term, broader view that prepares organizations for future, rapid changes.

We’ll begin by discussing short-term changes using the ADKAR model and delve into the role of change management in relation to project management. Additionally, we’ll review four popular change management models and offer practical tips for managing change over the long term.

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Strategies for Short-Term Change Management

If we’ve learned anything over the past few months, rapid change is here to stay.

Stay-at-home directives, travel restrictions, returning to the office for short periods, business closures. Dealing with these changes and many other disruptions requires a quick, focused response.

Adapting Quickly in Times of Crisis

The first step is recognizing how quickly individuals and teams can adapt during a crisis. An urgent need for change has created new ways of working while removing the layers of bureaucracy that typically slow teams down.

Introducing the Prosci ADKAR Model

Later on, we’ll review change management models for long-term projects. In this section, we’ll take a look at the Prosci ADKAR Model, which refers to:

  • Awareness of the need for change: Recognizing the driving forces behind the necessary change is crucial. It involves effectively communicating the reasons for change to ensure team understanding and buy-in.
  • Desire to participate and support the change: A positive attitude towards change is essential. It’s about motivating and engaging team members to participate proactively in the change process.
  • Knowledge on how to change: Providing the information and training needed to make the change successful. It includes step-by-step guidance and resources to navigate new processes or tools.
  • Ability to implement required skills and behaviors: Ensuring team members can adopt new skills and behaviors. It might involve hands-on training, mentoring, or coaching to facilitate the transition.
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change: Maintaining momentum after the change has been implemented is vital. It includes ongoing support, recognizing achievements, and embedding new practices into the organizational culture.

ADKAR focuses on action and how individuals respond to change. The model is based on the best information available to determine the best step to take next.

Implementing ADKAR: A Practical Approach

Working through this model takes around 30 minutes, and generating practical actions to help your team. These free quick-start guides for remote working and returning to the office will put you on the right track.

Prioritizing Additional Areas for Effective Change Management

In addition to the ADKAR model, it’s essential to focus on several key areas that are critical to the success of any change management initiative. These areas help ensure the change is implemented, embraced, and sustained over time.

Let’s delve into the importance of purpose, communication, feedback, and incremental changes in driving effective organizational change.


Every project should start with a clear goal, typically defined in the project charter. Similarly, every organization should operate with a clear vision in mind. It’s crucial to regularly revisit and reinforce these objectives with your team, helping them understand how their efforts contribute to the organization’s larger goals.

When team members find meaning and direction in their work, their engagement and productivity increase, minimizing time spent on tasks that don’t align with the core objectives.

This ScienceDirect article further explores the link between clear organizational goals and successful change management, which presents evidence-based practices for planned organizational change.


For remote project teams, clear and consistent communication becomes even more critical. Understanding different communication styles can significantly impact the success of your project.

It’s essential to document everything of significance, such as new processes or decisions, and share this documentation on a collaborative platform accessible to all team members.

For teams across various time zones, leveraging video content for updates and training can be highly effective. Tools within Microsoft 365, like Teams and Stream, provide secure options for video communication.

Learn more about project management in Microsoft Teams to improve collaboration and efficiency in your remote workforce.


Traditional methods of collecting stakeholder feedback may need to be revised in a remote working environment. It’s necessary to find straightforward and quick ways for individuals to provide input and express their concerns.

Tools like SharePoint forms or polling apps in Microsoft Teams can facilitate this process, ensuring that the impact of change on individuals is understood and addressed.

Incremental Changes

Deliver small changes quickly to help people become comfortable and confident when navigating something new.

As teams work remotely, challenges will crop up, for example, running video meetings or collaborating across time zones. Rather than fixing everything at once, pick one issue to work on.

At BrightWork, we use REP for change management:

  • Research the problem or opportunity to figure out what you need to do.
  • Execute the suggested approaches for a defined period.
  • Afterward, perform a post-mortem on these approaches to identify what did not work.


Project Management Guide REP

REPs may be delivered over a week, month, or year – depending on the situation!

Organizations need to manage short-term changes while preparing for long-term opportunities and future disruptions.

For the rest of this article, we’ll review the traditional relationship between projects and change management. You’ll learn more about every day, long-term change management processes and critical success factors.

Project Management and Change Management

Before delving deeper, it’s crucial to distinguish between project and change management while understanding how these disciplines intersect and complement each other.

Project Management

Project Management orchestrates the planning, initiation, execution, monitoring, and closure of tasks using technical skills, strategic management, and a structured approach to turning ideas into reality within a project timeline.
It’s about managing the entire project lifecycle to meet project objectives. For those looking to streamline their project management processes, Brightwork 365 offers a comprehensive solution.

Defined Duration and Scope

Projects are temporary, with specific start and end dates, designed to deliver unique outcomes. The transient nature of projects requires a focused and efficient approach to achieve the desired results without the luxury of indefinite time, adhering to project baselines and schedules.

Delivering Unique Value

Each project is a singular endeavor to create distinct deliverables that align with an organization’s strategic goals. Project management teams must adeptly navigate the constraints of scope, time, and budget to deliver these outcomes, enhancing the likelihood of project success.

Leadership and Adaptation

Effective project leadership involves changing teams and ensuring strategic alignment with the business’s evolving needs. Balancing technical precision with the team’s dynamics is crucial for a project’s success.

Change Management

Change management is a comprehensive approach encompassing people, processes, and tools to help organizations navigate and manage changes resulting from projects or other factors. It’s a control process that addresses internal and external factors impacting the project scope.

Change management is the bridge that moves people from their current state to a desired future state. It is a flexible process that typically eschews rigid structures, formalized processes, or fixed timelines, focusing instead on the human elements of transition.

Goals and Integration with Project Management

The ultimate goal of change management is to enable organizations to realize their strategic vision effectively and swiftly. It is not a standalone process – instead, it should be integrated into the overall project management process.

This integration ensures that both project and change managers work in tandem to achieve a positive outcome for all stakeholders involved in the project, including project sponsors.

Roles and Responsibilities in Change Management

The change manager is pivotal in identifying the individuals and teams affected by the changes.

They are responsible for developing a strategic plan to secure buy-in and facilitate introducing new initiatives while considering potential risks and additional costs associated with the change.

This process involves ensuring stakeholders and leaders support the change and set a positive example for others, contributing to organizational success.

For more in-depth guidance, check out these change management tips to help navigate your project management challenges.

The Impact of Change Management on Project Success

Effective change management can be the determining factor in the success or failure of a project. Being well-versed in various change management models and the key factors contributing to their success is crucial as a project manager.

Depending on the project’s scope and the resources at your disposal, you may also find yourself at the helm of change management efforts, underscoring the importance of this knowledge.

Project management on Microsoft 365

Watch a demo of BrightWork 365 project and portfolio management templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

Understanding Change Management Models

Change management models provide structured approaches for organizations to manage and implement change effectively. Each model offers a different perspective on approaching the complexities of change, whether incremental or radical.

Here’s an overview of the most prominent models:

The Strategic Change model

The Strategic Change model is insightful in categorizing organizational change into four distinct types, each with its own pace and impact. These classifications help organizations understand the scale and urgency of the differences they are facing:

  • Evolution: This gradual change involves small steps to improve and evolve the organization without causing significant disruptions.
  • Adaption: Incremental in nature, adaptation consists of a series of changes implemented over time, allowing the organization to adjust and refine its strategies as it progresses.
  • Revolution: When fundamental shifts are necessary, revolution change is invoked. This often involves a comprehensive overhaul of strategy, structures, and cultures to align with new, pressing realities.
  • Reconstruction is about rapid transformation, where multiple changes are implemented simultaneously, necessitating a swift and decisive action plan to reconfigure organizational processes and frameworks.


Kotter’s 8-step process

Kotter’s 8-step process is a comprehensive guide emphasizing the importance of employee buy-in and support for successful change implementation. The steps are designed to create a smooth transition with a high level of engagement from the workforce:

Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model

  1. Create Urgency: Build a sense of urgency around the need for change to motivate the team to move forward.
  2. Form a Powerful Coalition: Assemble a group with enough power to lead the change effort and encourage them to work as a team.
  3. Create a Vision for Change: Develop a clear vision to help everyone understand why you ask them to take action.
  4. Communicate the Vision: Ensure that as many people as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
  5. Remove Obstacles: Identify and remove barriers to change and empower people to execute the vision.
  6. Create Short-Term Wins: Plan for and create short-term “wins” that people can see and celebrate, helping to build momentum.
  7. Build on the Change: Analyze what went right and what needs improving, and set goals to continue building on the momentum of change.
  8. Anchor the Changes in Organizational Culture: Reinforce the changes by highlighting performance and success, ensuring they stick in the long term.


The Change Curve

This model anticipates the emotional journey individuals undergo during organizational change. It is a predictive tool for understanding the natural progression of employee reactions. It is instrumental in managing and supporting people through the transition.

The model delineates four distinct stages that characterize the typical response to change:

  • Stage 1: People react to the required change with shock or denial, resisting challenges to the status quo.
  • Stage 2: Once the change is accepted as inevitable, individuals may become harmful, angry, disruptive, and even fearful for their future with the organization.
  • Stage 3: Gradually, individuals begin to accept the changes, learning what they mean to them and how they must adapt.
  • Stage 4: The difference is embraced as individuals develop new working habits and processes. The organization will benefit from the change.


Lewin’s Change Management Model

This model characterizes change as ‘Unfreeze, Change, Freeze.’

Firstly, the organization must accept that a change is needed and communicate this need effectively. This ‘unfreezes’ individuals, making them open to change. Naturally, this phase can lead to extensive uncertainty and anxiety for individuals and teams.

Next, change occurs as individuals seek to resolve uncertainty and look to a new, improved future state. Time and communication are critical to this phase.
Finally, ‘refreeze’ becomes possible as changes are accepted within the organization.

Other approaches include the Switch Framework, William Bridge’s Transition Model, and the Kubler-Ross Change Curve.

Spend time assessing the required change, available resources, and company culture before selecting a model to guide the process. In this assessment, consider how Brightwork 365 integrations can facilitate the adoption of new tools and techniques across your teams.

Regardless of the chosen approach, the tips below will help to make change management successful.

4 Success Factors for Change Management

Effective change management is critical for ensuring that organizational changes are accepted and adopted. To facilitate this, several success factors can significantly influence the outcome of change initiatives. Here’s an expanded look at four of these critical factors:

1. Identify Impacted Individuals

Before announcing any changes, ensure you have identified impacted individuals and teams.

Please spend time with these individuals to understand how the change affects their daily routines.

This will also reveal potential conflicts and points of resistance, which will help you develop effective communications and assess any training materials or additional support needed.

Try tools such as interviews, focus groups, brainstorming sessions, and facilitation to collect this information.

2. Clear Case for Change

It is essential not to fall victim to the ‘curse of false knowledge’ by assuming everyone will understand why the change is being made as much as you and your team do.

Before announcing any changes, prepare a written statement outlining why the change is being made, the benefits of the change, and the roadmap to your new destination.

Encourage feedback where possible, for example, through workshops or an online tool.

3. Strong Leadership

The case of change begins at the top! Leaders must understand and agree with the change, visibly support the case for change, and repeat the benefits at every opportunity.

Many organizations are now turning to social networks and online communities to identify hidden influencers – people who are respected by their colleagues and, therefore, could play a role in the change program.

Tap into the ‘ripple effect’ by appointing organizational change ambassadors.

4. Communication

The case for change should be shared regularly, consistently, and across different channels.

Use face-to-face communication such as meetings, individual sessions, online sessions, and workshops where possible. Keep email to a minimum, as this tends to impersonalize the message.

Other communication channels include internal social platforms, training sessions, video messages and voicemails from senior leaders, online polls, case studies, and town hall meetings.

What Next

As you gear up for your upcoming projects, integrating project change management into your project planning is not just beneficial – it’s imperative. Here’s a streamlined checklist to help guide you:

  • Evaluate Existing Strategies: Review your current change management strategies. Are they up-to-date and capable of handling the complexities of today’s project environments?
  • Collaborate and Develop: If you find gaps or outdated practices, collaborate with your project team or engage with key stakeholders to develop responsive and flexible strategies considering project requirements and resource allocation.
  • Embed Change Management: Make change management an integral part of your project planning. This foresight can be the difference between a project that stumbles and soars, steering the project to success.
  • Prepare for the Human Element: Anticipate the human response to change. Plan for it, communicate effectively, and create a culture that not only expects change but is empowered by it, thus enhancing project performance.
  • Stay Agile and Informed: Change management is not static. Keep abreast of new trends, tools, and methodologies. Be ready to weave these into your project management approach, using management tools to maintain control and adapt to crises.
  • Continuous Improvement: Treat each project as an opportunity to refine your change management approach. Post-project reviews can be gold mines for insights and lessons learned, essential for improving project management practice.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Get the Collaborative Project Management Handbook

Improve your leadership, collaboration, and project management skills with “Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook” written by Éamonn McGuinness.

Shubhangi Pandey
Shubhangi Pandey

BrightWork Content Marketer

Shubhangi is a product marketing enthusiast, who enjoys testing and sharing the BrightWork 365 project portfolio management solution capabilities with Microsoft 365 users. You can see her take on the experience of the template-driven BrightWork 365 solution, its unique project management success approach, and other personalized services across the site and social channels. Beyond BrightWork, Shubhangi loves to hunt for the newest Chai Latte-serving café, where she can read and write for hours.

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