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Four Key Change Management Components of Successful Project Management Offices


Many organizations undertake initiatives to implement a Project Management Office (PMO) due to the commonly associated benefits such as cost reductions and on time delivery, but many find that the mere physical establishment of the PMO did not resolve their issues.

Often organizations hire a few project managers, call the department a PMO, and expect that this unit will magically deliver the benefits promised through the holy grail of Project Methodology.

Instead, many organizations find that projects still seem to be delivered through inconsistent processes, follow ineffective methodologies, are delivered late, or are over budget and to top it all off, they follow inconsistent project performance reporting and management.

This pattern is seen over-and-over from project-to-project; the reaction to the problems and the issues that people face remains the same, even though it is clear that things are not working.

Working with organizations like this, the four most common issues are:

  1. Lack of Overall Accountability – Poor accountability in regards to project budgets and timelines results in late delivery and budget overruns. When something strays off course, everyone starts pointing fingers at each other.
  2. Significant Overlap of Work Effort and Rework – Tools that are developed for a project are not incorporated into the organization’s knowledge base, resulting in each project having to ‘reinvent the wheel’.
  3. Inconsistent Metrics & Reporting – This leads to poor decision-making because actions such as benchmarking aren’t possible. It’s much like playing poker with your brother-in-law’s friends on their poker night. Your chance at being the big winner is very unlikely because you’re not used to the games they are playing.
  4. Poor Organizational Support and Cooperation – Projects and initiatives are communicated poorly to the organization or are only communicated to those who have been deemed as “need to know”. Without having first established buy-in across the entire organization, there is a general lack of cooperation and teamwork when the project beings to gear up.

So what has gone wrong? What has been missed?

The issues are often the result of overlooking or underestimating the significance of sound change management techniques and processes to accompany the establishment of a PMO. Leading the organizational change is the most difficult and underestimated component of establishing an effective PMO.

The four key components to implementing a successful PMO are:

  1. Identify Who Will be Accountable for Establishing the Change – A Sponsor needs to be chosen who has the ability to legitimize the PMO utilizing political and economic resources as required to sustain a change project in the organization. A Change Leader needs to be determined to drive the change and escalate issues to the Sponsor so they can be dealt with timely and effectively. The Change Leader must then be accompanied with Change Champions who support the project and keep their focus on the pulse of the organization.
  2. Establish a Need for the PMO to Exist and Communicate it Throughout the Organization – This is critical as there is a clear correlation between a successful implementation and having informed people about the need for change. This creates the buy-in and understanding that is needed in order for people to comprehend the crucial role that the PMO plays in the organization.
  3. Keep People Informed Throughout the Change – Once the need for the change has been established and the next steps have been communicated, it is essential to keep people informed on a regular basis so they can feel included in the process and ride the wave of momentum.
  4. Make the Change Stick – It’s very easy for people to fall back into their old ways of doing business, especially if they think no one is paying attention. Old culture is always lying dormant ready to rear its ugly head, so it is critical to immediately address any issues head on.

Incorporating solid change management practices into the establishment of a PMO vastly increases the probability of success within the organization and hence the projects it will undertake in the future.

The dance is how we react to the story and the song, but unfortunately to be successful, one can’t use the same old dance. A PMO has significant impact on the culture of an organization and therefore requires a well thought-out and planned organizational change component in order to reap the benefits promised under the project management framework.

Optimus Think