Organizational change, in its simplest form, refers to any shift or evolution in the structure, operations, or culture of a company. These changes can have a tremendous impact on any ongoing projects. As such, project managers, particularly those undertaking the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam, need to be skilled in assessing these impacts and determining the necessary actions to ensure project success.

Organizational change can be planned or unplanned, and its effects on a project can be negative or positive. It’s crucial, therefore, as a Project Manager, to understand these changes carefully and develop a sound strategy to maneuver through them.

Table of Contents

1. Impact of Organizational Change on a Project

i. Change in Project Goals and Objectives

During an organizational change, a project’s goals and objectives may alter significantly. This usually happens when there is a shift in organization’s strategy or direction. For instance, if a company decides to start focusing on sustainability, projects that don’t align with this new objective may be deprioritized, modified, or even cancelled.

ii. Change in Resource Availability

Organizational changes such as budget cuts, layoffs, or merging of departments might result in a change in resource availability – both human resources and material resources. This can directly affect a project’s timeline, cost, and quality.

iii. Change in Stakeholder Involvement

Managerial shifts, or changes in leadership can lead to changes in the stakeholder map. New decision-makers may have different expectations or investment levels, causing alterations in project strategy.

2. Determining Required Actions

i. Communication

The first and foremost step should be to establish clear and open lines of communication with all project stakeholders, ensuring everyone is updated with the changes and their potential impacts.

ii. Revision of Project Plan

The project plan may need to be revised to accommodate the changes. This can involve refreshing the project’s goals and objectives, updating the budget, rescheduling tasks, or reallocating resources.

iii. Risk Management

Project managers should re-examine the risk management strategy, identifying any new risks that organizational change may have introduced and updating their mitigation tactics.

iv. Developing a Change Management Plan

Project managers should consider developing a change management plan. This provides a structured approach to managing change within the team and the project.

An exemplary case study for reviewing the impact of organizational change on a project is the realignment of General Electric in 2018. After struggling with financial difficulties, the conglomerate decided to focus on its aviation, power and renewable energy businesses and divest other operations. This type of strategic shift had a significant impact on ongoing projects, requiring project managers to re-evaluate their project plans and deliverables to align with the new direction.


In conclusion, understanding the impact of organizational change on a project and determining the required actions is essential for successful project management. Effective project managers anticipate, plan, communicate, and adapt to best navigate these changes. Organizations also need to recognize the pivotal role played by project managers in managing change associated with ongoing projects, emphasizing the significance of project management training, including undertaking the PMP exam.

Practice Test

1) True or False: Changes in an organization do not have any measurable impact on its projects.

A) True

B) False

Answer: B) False

Explanation: Changes within an organization, whether structural or strategic, can have a significant impact on its projects including scope, timeline, budget, and resources involved.

2) Changes in the organization may require:

A) Change in Project Scope

B) Increased Project Budget

C) Same Project Timeline

D) All of the above

Answer: D) All of the above

Explanation: Any change occurring in the organization can potentially alter the project scope, timeline or budget depending on how impactful the change is.

3) An organizational change may trigger:

A) A change of business priorities

B) An alteration in strategic objectives

C) A change in project risk assessment

D) All of the above

Answer: D) All of the above

Explanation: Organizational changes can shift business priorities, alter strategic objectives and even require a new project risk assessment due to reassessment of possible factors evolving from the change.

4) One of the main tools and techniques to evaluate organizational change impact is:

A) Stakeholder Analysis

B) Risk Analysis

C) SWOT Analysis

D) None of the above

Answer: A) Stakeholder Analysis

Explanation: Stakeholder analysis allows a clear understanding of how changes will impact different stakeholders and their level of influence on the project.

5) Personnel-related changes in the organization includes:

A) Change in the top management

B) Increase in team members’ skills and knowledge

C) Change in job roles and descriptions

D) All of the above

Answer: D) All of the above

Explanation: All these changes directly relate to people and their roles within the organization, and therefore can impact the project’s structure and execution plans.

6) True or False: A decrease in project budget due to changes in organizational priorities always leads to project termination.

A) True

B) False

Answer: False

Explanation: Not always does a budget decrease lead to termination, it may require adjustment or updating of project plans to accommodate the reduced budget.

7) A change in project scope due to organizational change is typically handled by:

A) Project Manager

B) Project Sponsor

C) Functional Manager

D) Change Control Board

Answer: D) Change Control Board

Explanation: Formal changes to the project scope are typically vetted and approved through the Change Control Board, which includes members knowledgeable in the project area.

8) True or False: Organization’s strategic changes always lead to changes in project objectives.

A) True

B) False

Answer: False

Explanation: Not always do strategic changes in organization lead to changes in project objectives. It largely depends on how aligned the project was to the strategy in the first place.

9) Changes in technology within an organization can impact:

A) The way work processes are designed

B) The skills required from team members

C) The project schedule

D) All of the above

Answer: D) All of the above

Explanation: Technological changes can bring about changes in work methodology, necessary skills, and can also influence the project’s timeline.

10) It’s the duty of _____ to brief and guide the project team about organizational changes.

A) Project Sponsor

B) Project Manager

C) Stakeholder

D) Functional Manager

Answer: B) Project Manager

Explanation: It’s usually the Project Manager’s duty to communicate any organizational changes to the team and guide them on how it affects the project and how to maneuver through it.

Interview Questions

What is the direct impact of organizational change on project scope?

Organizational change can potentially alter the project scope by introducing new objectives or requirements which were not initially included.

How can organizational change affect the project schedule?

Organizational change such as restructuring or downsizing can lead to a change in available resources, which can cause delays in project schedule.

Why is it important for a project manager to have a change management plan in place?

Having a change management plan allows the project manager to handle changes efficiently and mitigate risks, thereby minimizing any negative impacts on the project outcome.

What is the impact of organizational change on project risk?

Organizational change can introduce new risks or uncertainties to the project due to factors like change in project scope, availability of resources, or changes in management structure.

How can organizational change affect a project’s stakeholders?

Organizational change can highly influence stakeholders’ interest or support towards the project, their roles and responsibilities, and their level of influence on project outcomes.

What are some of the required actions when an organizational change impacts a project?

Actions may include reassessing the project scope, revising the project schedule, identifying new risks, realigning resources, and communicating the implications of changes to all stakeholders.

How important is communication in mitigating the impacts of organizational change on a project?

Communication is highly critical in explaining the necessity of the change, its anticipated impacts, and how it will be managed to all stakeholders to ensure their continued commitment and support.

How can a project manager assess the impact of organizational change on a project’s budget?

A project manager can assess the impact by re-evaluating the project’s resource allocation, considering any newly introduced tasks, and examining the financial implications of delaying tasks or adding new ones.

Can changes in organizational culture affect project management?

Yes, changes in organizational culture, like values, beliefs, or the level of openness towards change can either facilitate or hinder project management processes and their success rate.

How can a project manager minimize the impact of organizational change on a project’s quality standards?

Through effective change management—including prompt identification of changes, performing an impact analysis, devising appropriate strategies to handle changes, and ensuring ongoing communication—the project manager can maintain the project’s quality standards.

What role does a project manager play when an organizational change occurs?

The project manager is responsible for monitoring, analyzing the change, assessing its impact, communicating it to all stakeholders, and developing and implementing the necessary strategies to manage the effect of the change.

How can organizational change affect the project team?

Changes can impact the team’s structure, roles, responsibilities, morale, and efficiency, which, in turn, can affect the project’s outcome.

When organizational change happens, is it always necessary to raise a change request in project management?

Raising a change request would be dependent on the nature and extent of the organizational change. However, it’s generally advisable to raise one to document the change and track its impact on various aspects of the project.

How could the project manager’s leadership style affect the team’s reaction to organizational change?

The leadership style of a project manager can play a crucial role in the team’s adaptation to change. An inclusive, supportive, and flexible leadership style can help facilitate smoother transitions during periods of organizational change.

How can a project manager ensure that the organizational change does not negatively affect team performance?

A project manager can ensure this by providing clear and frequent communication, offering adequate training, and arranging for resources necessary to cope with changes effectively. All these actions can help maintain team performance despite the organizational change.

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