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4 Types of Change Management (Levels)

        posted by , March 29, 2013

Change happens at every level of your organization and it happens continuously.

It's little wonder that change management has evolved at the executive management, program management, project management and team management levels.

Each level includes practices that are commonly referred to as "change management". These 4 types of change management focus on different areas and tend to use different techniques. This has lead to plenty of confusion about the term "change management".

The following definitions may provide clarity.


1. Organizational Change Management

Manages change at the organizational level with a focus on culture. It's often referred to as the people side of change management.

Definition: Organizational Change Management

Organizational Change Management is the practice of managing enterprise changes such as mergers & acquisitions, restructuring, process changes and culture transitions. It's often focused on the people side of change — socializing change to reduce resistance and gain acceptance.


In many cases, organizational change management is an executive management function or is a program run by the human resources department.

Its primary objective is to convert resistance into positive outcomes such as improved strategies and plans. Its goal is to establish a culture that embraces change.


2. Program Change Management

Program change management tackles change at the program level.

Definition: Program Change Management

Program change management controls changes to an ongoing portfolio of projects to ensure that overall program goals are met.


Programs have little control over the culture of an organization — they simply want to deliver to their mandate. Program change is usually managed by a program manager together with a change control board. The goal is to balance the need for change with program objectives and budget. The impacts of change such as cost, risk and schedule consequences are evaluated and changes are prioritized.


3. Project Change Management

Change control is an integral part of every project management methodology. Projects are transitional initiatives that deliver a set of objectives. Projects often face constant change.

Definition: Project Change Management

Project change management is the controlled integration of change into every phase of a project. Changes are evaluated for cost, quality, risks and benefits. The impact to scope and schedules is assessed. Changes are either rejected or incorporated into the project.


In many industries, more than 50% of projects fail. Change is often identified as a persistent project management challenge.


4. Departmental & Team Change Management

Departments and teams that are faced with an environment of constant change often develop their own change management practices.

The focus of departmental change management may be to improve the success rate of changes and prioritize change to match available budget and resource constraints.

For example, IT departments that are faced with large influxes of technology changes may deploy standard change management processes such as ITIL change management.


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