What is change management and organisational change?


Change management is the overarching approach taken in an organisation to move from the current to a future desirable state using a coordinated and structured approach in collaboration with stakeholders.

Definition from APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition  📖

Change management

Change management is often needed to ensure continued survival or business relevance. Combining change management with the management of project-work offers the best potential for delivering new results and capabilities, successfully embedding the change and enabling the required benefits.

The change management process links strategy with execution, and deployment with operation and the ultimate realisation of the expected benefits.

Change manegement, change management process

Diagram: Change management from Starting Out in Project Management, 3rd edition. Copyright APM

Organisational change

Organisational change is introduced into corporate settings through projects, programmes and portfolios in order to deliver business value however it is only the beginning of the process of embedding change and making it the new normal state for the organisation.

Successful change management requires changes to behaviours, so there is a significant focus on people, culture and behaviours needed to:

  • prepare the organisation,
  • demonstrate the change,
  • encourage buy-in,
  • embed new behavioural norms and expectations around the altered conditions.

Organisational change management begins and ends with the individuals involved, requiring an understanding of resistance, organisational defence routines, pervading cultures and the engagement processes required to bring people along.

To ensure that value is created and sustained from organisational change initiatives, benefits have to be managed throughout the entire investment life cycle.

It is important to differentiate change control from the wider discipline of change management. Change management is a structured approach to move an organisation from a current state to a future desired state. Change control is a subset of overall change management and it is useful to not mix up the language.

APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

You can learn more about change management in chapter four of the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition.

The APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition is a foundational resource providing the concepts, functions and activities that make up professional project management. It reflects the developing profession, recognising project-based working at all levels, and across all sectors for influencers, decision makers, project professionals and their teams.

The seventh edition continues in the spirit of previous editions, collaborating with the project community to create a foundation for the successful delivery of projects, programmes and portfolios.

APM Body of Knowledge


Related reading

The successful delivery of change within the public sector: getting it right    RESOURCE   
This research report was commissioned by the Enabling Change SIG Public Sector practitioner group in conjunction with APM Research... read more

Managing change in the delivery of complex projects: Configuration management, asset information and ‘big data’    RESOURCE   
This article provides insight into how change is managed in three organisations delivering complex projects – Airbus, CERN and Crossrail ... read more

Understanding leadership in the context of transformation projects    RESOURCE   
his research aims to advance understandings of individual, team and organisation-wide leadership capabilities for successfully delivering transformation projects... read more

Why change management is critical for project success

The following excerpt is taken from the APM publication Introduction to Managing Change and is designed to give readers an overview of change management and why it’s important.... read more

5 reasons for making change management a top priority    BLOG   
Change management. Scope management. Change orders. Not always among the most fun or interesting tasks that a project manager involves himself with on the projects he is leading.... read more

How to manage structural change in turbulent times    BLOG   
'Never waste a good crisis' said Churchill, allegedly, and there have certainly been no shortages of what the public at least, might consider have qualified as a series of 'once in a generation' crises facing governments over the last few years.... read more

Find resources to manage projects

APM Enabling Change (SIG)

The Enabling Change SIG is a highly collaborative SIG, supporting and enabling the change agenda across other SIGs, reaching out to SIG and APM members through the Branches, and participating in change related discussions across APM. 

View SIG

Introduction to Managing Change

Introduction to Managing Change

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