Three supports to successful change

Is Managing Change the same as Project Management?

Prosci© PCT™ Model

Prosci© PCT™ Model

A recent tutorial from Prosci identifies three critical areas of activity needed for change success. The model is both simple and elegant. However, it opens the question about where should change management professionals go for their support. The three areas are: project management; sponsorship; and change management. Not only does each activity have to work well, they have to work well together for change success. The schism between the three areas is becoming more evident as change failure continues, see how the model can help.

The tutorial goes into each area in more detail, and interestingly seems to be written from the view of a manager on the change management side needing to get the other two areas lined up.


I have deliberately left ‘leadership’ off this activity title as I believe leadership is required in all three activities. There is no reason to leave leadership to senior managers when leadership behaviour for change is required across the organisation.

The sponsors of the change have three key contributions:

  • Provide the resources for the change, throughout the change.
  • Have a vision and drive that vision through the organisation so that the change gets the priority it needs (because it is important) to succeed against normal operations (urgent stuff); see a recent blog.
  • Make sure the other two activities work together with the sponsor to deliver success (which is different from delivering change).

Project Management

The project contributes the technical work that will enable the business to change. In effect the capability to change. It should provide the best (cost-effective) solution to the business needs and is expected to be both innovative and a reality test on the business needs and wants (preferably by separating needs from wants). The project will take its objectives and scope from the other two activities. It will probably own the overall business case as it has the structure and process to create and manage the information.

Change Management

This activity is focused on the people side of the change and delivering benefits in the organisation. Since the change managers are at the sharp end of the change they probably have the most interest in coordinating the other two activities: getting enough sponsor energy and commitment; and getting a good capability from the project that will lead to successful change and benefits.

Working together

As well as being good at each activity, it is essential that they are coordinated and controlled in order to deliver the criteria in the middle of the triangle. Prosci go on with their model and identify 10 health check questions about each activity area to see if they are working well enough to contribute to the overall success. These health check questions provide significant insight into each activity as they effectively provide the success criteria for each area. However, it is not sufficient to be good in each area, they must link up and become more than the sum of the parts. The three sets of questions are sufficiently good to be worth repeating and are:

Sponsor Activity health check:

  1. The change has an executive sponsor.
  2. The executive sponsor has the necessary authority over the people, processes and systems to authorize and fund the change.
  3. The executive sponsor is willing and able to build a sponsorship coalition for the change, and is able to manage resistance from other managers and supervisors.
  4. The executive sponsor will actively and visibly participate with the project team throughout the entire project.
  5. The executive sponsor will resolve issues and make decisions relating to the project schedule, scope and resources.
  6. The executive sponsor can build awareness of the need for the change (why the change is happening) directly with employees.
  7. The organization has a clearly defined vision and strategy.
  8. This change is aligned with the strategy and vision for the organization.
  9. Priorities have been set and communicated regarding this change and other competing initiatives.
  10. The sponsor will visibly reinforce the change and celebrate successes with the team and the organization.

Project Management health check

  1. The change is clearly defined including what the change will look like and who is impacted by the change.
  2. The project has a clearly defined scope.
  3. The project has specific objectives that define success.
  4. Project milestones have been identified and a project schedule has been created.
  5. A project manager has been assigned to manage the project resources and tasks.
  6. A work breakdown structure has been completed and deliverables have been identified.
  7. Resources for the project team have been identified and acquired based on the work breakdown structure.
  8. Periodic meetings are scheduled with the project team to track progress and resolve issues.
  9. The executive sponsor is readily available to work on issues that impact dates, scope or resources.
  10. The project plan has been integrated with the change management plan.

Change Management health check

  1. A structured change management approach is being applied to the project.
  2. An assessment of the change and its impact on the organization has been completed.
  3. An assessment of the organization’s readiness for change has been completed.
  4. Anticipated areas of resistance have been identified and special tactics have been developed.
  5. A change management strategy including the necessary sponsorship model and change management team model has been created.
  6. Change management team members have been identified and trained.
  7. An assessment of the strength of the sponsorship coalition has been conducted.
  8. Change management plans including communications, sponsorship, coaching, training and resistance management have been created.
  9. Feedback processes have been established to gather information from employees to determine how effectively the change is being adopted.
  10. Resistance to change is managed effectively and change successes are celebrated, both in private and in public.

On the Prosci web site for the tutorial they describe a simple measurement and presentation mechanism that will capture the strength, or weakness of your change initiative.

What is the point?

This topic begs the question about whether change should be a part of project management (along with engineering, construction, and operations projects); or should it be a separate topic belonging to a completely different class of professional. Review the health check questions and tell me what you think?


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