Nov 11, 2011

Next Up: The Change Management Office?

Posted by Johanna Mickel in Culture & Change Management, Project Management Events, Project Management Office (PMO) | 5 Comments

Taking a couple days' break after the PMO Symposium in Orlando, I've had a chance to reflect on the messages I heard at the conference, and one message that struck home - and which I heard in more than one presentation - was that organizational change management is the future of the PMO.

In a panel discussion that included representatives from Verizon Wireless, Amerihealth Mercy and the Delaware Valley Chapter of PMI, the panelists stressed that maturity means tying project and program management to business results. Speaking on the topic "The Real World Value of Organizational Project Management," the panelists and over 75 attendees discussed that the whole reason we build a PMO is to benefit the organization - not to build processes, not to train in project management: these are merely tactics by which the mature PMO serves the organizational strategies.

We often hear today that PMOs are "transformational" - and the way to transform the organization is to drive value.  Naturally, with a concern for showing how the PMO provides organizational value, there was a great deal of discussion about capturing metrics and I was glad to see that people were using the term metrics in a broad sense: not project metrics only, but developing relationships between project performance and benefits realization.

Later, I sat in on a lessons learned session and, again, the point was made that the PMO is evolving into a change management office. Lynda Bourne spoke on stakeholder engagement, using the example of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster to show how failing to include and address all stakeholders can expose a company to risk.

She used the term "stakeholder myopia" to describe this situation and made a case for the development of a new metric, similar to the Cost of Quality which would communicate the cost of involving all stakeholders.

Finally, the conference attendees pondered the question "Where Do We Go from Here?" and again, it was proposed that the PMO become the CMO! PMOs are the logical choice for sustaining stakeholder involvement, focusing the investment in training people and processes, and maturing leadership. Maybe it's just that projects provide the life-giving changes that organizations thrive on ... or maybe it's that you can't manage change without project management. No matter how you look at it, change management is looming large for project management leaders. I'm very proud that PM Solutions has been focusing on change management for years both in our training courses and on client assignments; it's nice to feel we are ahead of the curve!


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5 Comments on Next Up: The Change Management Office?

Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin says:

Thanks for these insights, Johanna! I have to agree on the change management thoughts. Just want to alert readers also that our newest white paper, slated to come out in December, focuses on change management: in particular on developing metrics that will help companies gauge their organizational readiness for change initiatives.

Posted on November 11, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Dr. Dan Price, DM, PMP says:

Great article!  You are right on target!  Project management IS change management!  Too often we PM’s don’t recognize this reality.  PM’s are indeed organizational change facilitators.  We need to address this issue further in our training and education.  The PMO should be experts in change management, not just PM.  Organizational leaders need our help and the PM world can provide that help when it comes to changes.  We need to develop a deeper understanding of the dynamics of organizational change because of the increased uncertainty in the world today!  This is a current topic of interest in business and academics. Again, thanks for the thoughtful piece—I totally agree!

Posted on November 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Jason Whitehead says:

Hi Johanna,

I agree that PMOs need to evolve and OCM is a great direction.  We did a project with a global telecommunications company helping them develop their OCM strategy around a new IT system them were deploying.  After a detailed assessment it was obvious that the organization needed more than traditional “Change Management”.  After careful planning, we helped the organization establish a “User Adoption Program Management Office (UA PMO)”.  In essence, this is a very specialized OCM PMO that specializes in addressing the needs of IT Programs.

Based on our experience developing the User Adoption PMO, Tri Tuns developed an online User Adoption Portal that provides the backbone infrastructure organizations need for their User Adoption or Change Management PMO.  It comes preloaded with a lot of the core content and functionality organizations need to quickly establish ongoing UA (and OCM) PMOs, while lowering the cost and administrative workload required to create and maintain a PMO.  You can learn more at or

Jason Whitehead
Tri Tuns, LLC

Posted on November 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Johanna Mickel says:

Hi Dan - thank you for your enthusiastic comments about the blog posting.  If you look at our recent book, An Inside Look at High-Performing PMOs, the award winning PMOs do engage in change management as a core competency.  I look forward to reading more of your articles!

Posted on November 15, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Johanna Mickel says:

Hi Jason,
You hit the nail on the head with your comments.  The people side of IT projects are more challenging than the technology.  Looks like your company has developed a useful tool.  Thanks again for your comments!

Posted on November 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm

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