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Project manager vs. change manager

In our previous article about change management and project management we described how the two can complement each other. When you are managing a minor change in a project or with a project, the project manager could potentially take over the duties of a change manager as well. However, if you are managing major changes, adding an experienced change manager can improve your results even more.

Let us define the roles of a project manager and change manager to make clear what duties need to be covered and by whom.

Project manager

Overall, the project manager’s work is centred around the customer whose needs and expectations determine the project’s deliverables.
Thus, the responsibility of the project manager is to deliver the project result successfully and as efficiently as possible. Thereby, the project manager defines the project scope, the parameters for time, cost and quality.
They is planning and allocating resources, setting up the project timeline with milestones, including input from team members. The responsibilities of the project manager also include tracking and prioritizing the work of the team. Likewise, they manages the project risks and handles the project result handover.

The project manager usually reports into the project sponsor.

Change manager

The change manager makes sure that the new solution (change) is integrated with the rest of the business and everyone impacted by the change is on board. Hence, they has a lot of stakeholders to manage. And throughout the change process, stakeholders’ views and expectations can change as well.
In this process, the change manager takes care of project communications outside the project team as well as the stakeholder management. Their responsibility is also the planning and implementation of the change, thereby identifying training needs and the organization thereof. Nevertheless, this is not a once-off exercise as the change manager has to secure the change acceptance in the long term.

Regarding the reporting structure for the change manager, there are different options. They could report into the project sponsor or into the project manager. Please note that the change manager does not necessarily participate in all project team meetings or in the daily project work.

Do you need a project and a change manager?

Project manager and change manager can work on the same level, reporting both into the project sponsor or the change manager reports into the project manager. No matter which option, the above mentioned roles will be fulfilled.
Ideally, you have two different persons for the roles of project and change manager. But of course a small organization might not be able to afford two managers on a project. The most important is that all responsibilities mentioned above are covered, be it by the project manager or someone else in the team. So don’t be too obsessed about having a project and change manager but make sure that especially the change manager’s tasks – which usually get deprioritized – are assigned to a team member.

Do you want to track all responsibilities and efficiently manage your project with a project management software that facilitates collaboration across functions? Try OpenProject 14 days for free.

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