I’ve written in the past about the tension that often exists between the roles of project manager and business analyst. In the October 2014 issue of PM Journal, research was conducted to look at a different pair of roles and the nature of their relationships – the change manager and the project manager.
The research looked at all four types of reporting relationships – project manager (PM) reporting to change manager (CM), CM reporting to PM, PM and CM as peers, and PM and CM completely disconnected from one another. Their research showed a conflict in views between the two roles regarding who should have authority over whom.
Unlike other roles which are engaged as team members on projects, the change manager’s role starts well before a project commences and will usually end after the project manager has move on to their next project.
This overlap is caused by the change lifecycle.
Visioning, beginning to identify, analyze & engage stakeholders, and ensuring an appropriate level of change executive sponsorship needs to happen before a project kicks off, otherwise there is unlikely to be much buy in on the project’s charter. A high-level change strategy might also have been developed before the project gets underway.
Once the project is over, the change manager needs to ensure that sustainment plans are being effectively executed and that feedback from affected staff is gathered and analyzed for continuous improvement purposes.
However, it is during the project lifecycle that key change deliverables such as a detailed change plan, communication strategy and plan, messaging, and training deliverables are produced. In some cases, the change manager might also be acting as the change work package lead for the project and if so, their plans will need to be developed and rolled up into the overall project plan.
So this brings us back to the four models considered by the research – which would be the most appropriate? Having the project and change manager as peers both reporting the executive sponsor for the project ensures a balanced approach to managing project and change scope, and increases alignment in decision-making. Such a reporting relationship would also serve to develop mutual respect between these roles for the unique skills and life experiences critical to being good at each.
Project success requires change success and change success relies on project success!