Integrating Project Management and Change Management

Change is the new norm

The business landscape looks very different now compared to ten years ago. Continued advances in technology and changing consumer demands are bringing major disruption to the way most sectors and industries operate. In addition, there has been a shift in the workforce with an influx of tech-savvy millennials entering the job market with fresh expectations and often disruptive thinking around how things should work. More than ever, business leaders face a constant challenge to sustain and evolve their business to remain relevant, profitable and ahead of the competition.

Organisations are awash with projects – be it developing or adopting new technologies, upgrading systems and processes, creating new products and services to meet changing customer expectations or just planning for changes in regulations (GDPR and Brexit come to mind). Take a step back from it, you quickly realise that implementing a project and then letting things settle down for a sustained period just doesn’t happen anymore. In other words – change is the new norm.

Considering this, it is no surprise that clients often come to us asking for support in setting up a Project Management Office (PMO). They usually have many competing projects and requirements across their organisation, and recognise the need to have a consistent methodology in place and be in more control of these activities.

This is clearly a positive step for an organisation to take, establishing good project governance and practices is something I know they won’t regret (assuming it is followed through properly). However, there is something else that is often neglected and then regretted further down the line. It is the challenge of not just delivering projects, but the wider piece around ensuring they are effectively adopted, embedded and sustainable within the organisation. Or to put it simply – the integration of project management and change management within the PMO.

 Let’s look at what often happens

PMOs traditionally concentrate on providing governance in order to ensure that projects are  delivered to the triple constraints of time, scope and budget. The focus is predominantly on the condition of the project (scope, time, budget) and to a lesser extent on the people in the organisation, the affect it will have on them and the strategies that need to be in place to ensure effective adoption. In addition, the cumulative people impact of changes across the entire organisation are commonly not considered.

Particularly in larger organisations, and especially with IT projects, it is common for much of the project team to be external and commonly there is limited business representation and meaningful end user interaction. This means that processes (old and new) and the associated impacts aren’t fully understood leading to issues and delays in delivering the project. As a result communications are often late and training / training materials aren’t ready or of sufficient quality. Often businesses are too scared to communicate as key stakeholders don’t have all the answers, but the result is radio silence which leads people to feel in the dark and disengaged from the project.

 The panacea – the integrated Project & Change Management Office (PCMO)

More recently, we are seeing increased success in organisations that choose to implement change management resources and practices within their PMO. The project methodology and governance model are adapted to integrate change management best practices and deliverables that ensure a focus on preparing for and managing successful change.

The change part of the PCMO understands the holistic impact in more detail and is more connected to business users. They can provide appropriate representation at key project stage gates and ensure there is adequate attention on business readiness, not just solution readiness. Decisions and conversations across the business are underpinned by key change management activities and deliverables including: change strategy, business impact assessment, end user engagement plans, sponsor roadmaps, communications, and change measurement surveys and associated corrections.

PCMOs typically have a project management lead and change management lead working closely together with project managers, project teams, change managers and business stakeholders. The conflict point between project and change usually comes when delivery to the triple constraints meets the business being ready, able and willing to accept the change. It is a balancing act, leadership support is essential, and the PCMO works to ensure that the best approach is taken that maximises overall success for the organisation (not just the project).

I recently worked with a client within the PCMO for a large transformation programme and witnessed first-hand the value that it brings. Under pressure to deliver on time and to budget a solution was proposed by the project team that met the requirement, but involved a number of steps and was far from elegant. Within the PCMO meeting, and understanding the impact and existing perceptions about the project, the change manager was able to insist that the user experience was prioritised, despite it resulting in extra cost, pressure on the project timeline and additional work for the project team. The outcome was a far simpler process and this has resulted in happy, engaged users who are proactive in using the new solution.  I am certain, judging by previous experience, that if there had not been an integrated PCMO the original solution would have been selected and adoption and overall perception of the project would have been severely hampered.

 So why aren’t more organisations adopting this PCMO approach?

For some organisations even a PMO is seen as a luxury, so integrating a change management office is perceived as one cost/overhead too many.

In my experience, though, the investment in PCMO does pay its own way by reducing cost and schedule overruns, improving speed of adoption (ROI), embedding the right behaviours, and ensuring that you manage resistance to change early so you can adapt and intervene.

As mentioned earlier, change and adaption is the new norm, so whilst a focus on project management will help manage the portfolio and support efficiency delivery, without change being integral to the process there is a real risk that businesses are not going to capitalise on opportunities or deal with challenges if they are not considering their main asset – the workforce. This is not to say that project management as a discipline hasn’t come a long way in improving its focus on benefits and managing change, however more needs to be done to ensure that change management and people are at the heart of the conversation. Ultimately, it will help ensure that organisations are able to deal with regular change and ensure that they always make change stick.

At Afiniti, we regularly advise our clients on setting up PMOs / PCMOs, so if you are thinking about taking this next step for your organisation get in touch and we would be happy to discuss this further. Likewise, if you have any examples you would like to share around integrating change management within a PMO it would be great to hear from you too.


We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our Insights blog.

Change management tips – building the user journey

You may have heard the term ‘change journey’ before.  This describes the phase that an organisation will go through in making complex organisational, process and behavioural change.

Why describe this as a journey?

Whatever happens within the organisation – technical changes, new operating models, new systems and ways of working, it’s unlikely to be a straightforward move from A to B.  Many things will occur during the timeframe that will affect the transition, meaning the pace of change and resistance to it will vary – and things can be pretty unpredictable.

So why not apply the same principle to the people experiencing the change?  For employees to successfully change the way they work, they need to be supported in many ways.  This could involve classroom or online learning, support from managers or peers, regular communications or opportunities to share ideas.  Whatever these tactics are, they will need to be many and varied to be successful, and they should be staggered over time; designed to continually engage without being overpowering.

People going through change are essentially going on a voyage of discovery, and to help them navigate it there are a number of principles that you can apply to ensure they reach the desired outcomes.

1. Set foundations

Clarify the need for change, and be open and honest about it.  This may involve sharing bad news or information which might make people feel uncomfortable about the present state of the nation, but this will help them come to terms about the need to do something differently.  This is best coming from the leaders of the organisation – seeing them being open and transparent about change can really help get them onboard.

The outcome here is a universal, company-wide understanding of the rationale for change.

2. Create a ‘pull’

Develop a curiosity among your employees.  Show them what the change might mean for them – and do it creatively.  Try animations or video to bring the new way of working to life, and enhance this with roadshows so people can share their thoughts, concerns or ideas.

The outcome here is that people become interested and want to know more.

3. Develop capability

Understand the skills that people will need to thrive.  Drip feed it through the organisation using innovative new ways of sharing information – theory is great, but bring it to life using real life scenarios.  Think about a variety of media such as animation, infographics, live presentations and role plays – it doesn’t always have to be elearning alone.

The outcome is that people are aware of what they need to do differently.

4. Reinforce learning

Be proactive in developing methods to support people’s learning experience.  A ‘one and done’ approach often doesn’t work.  They’ll need opportunities to interact with and ask questions of colleagues, leaders and those further ahead on their change journey.  This might include a team of people to support colleagues through transitionary stages with subject matter expertise.  People need to know they are being supported rather than left to their own devices.

The outcome is that people are not only aware of what they need to do differently, but have had the chance to demonstrate some of the new skills or behaviours and talk about it with colleagues.

5. Sustain for the future – reward

The change project will eventually come to a close, and that can often mean an end to the tactics and support referred to in this blog.  It doesn’t have to be though – work with team leaders to identify ways in which the required skills and behaviours are not only still mandated, but recognised and rewarded.  Team leaders hold the key and you will need to make it easy for them to continue to champion the change and make it part of the way they naturally operate.


Hope you find this useful.  Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of the tactics listed here, or share your ideas.


We frequently post our thoughts, ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our Insights blog.

Afiniti ranked among the UK’s Leading Management Consultants 2018

In the recent, inaugural, UK’s Leading Management Consultants 2018 report, published by Statista in partnership with the Financial Times, Afiniti has been ranked among the best in the UK.

With over 8,000 management consultancy firms in the UK, competition in the industry is fierce. Our ranking within this exclusive list of just 187 organisations puts us in the top 3% of management consultants in the UK. This is a huge achievement and testament to how Afiniti colleagues strive tirelessly to put our clients first and keep people at the heart of everything we do.

Recommendation from clients

The ranking was based on two elements, an expert survey of staff from management consultancies and a client survey of senior executives who have previously worked with consultancies – with clients able to recommend consultancies for particular services.  Afiniti was recommended for the work we’ve done within the Organisation and Change sector.

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about how Afiniti helps clients plan, execute and embed sustainable change and how we can help you with your change programmes, send us a message and we’ll get straight back to you.


We frequently post ideas and tips on: change management, learning and communications, PPM, employee engagement and culture.

Subscribe here to start receiving a monthly roundup email from our blog and our Quarterly Business Change Digest, written by the change experts at Afiniti.