Projects deliver change, and that makes change management one of the functions that the PMO has to support.
However, the very effort involved with implementing or improving a PMO also requires change. In our experience, while project managers and PMO leaders can be vocal about supporting and driving change in other areas of the business, they are just as human as everyone else when it comes to making changes in their own part of the enterprise.
In other words, if you are trying to implement or improve your PMO you are likely to hit some resistance to change because that’s human nature.
Delivering the work of the PMO often requires parts of the business to change how they carry out tasks. There might be new reports required. There might be different ways of identifying projects, or allocating resources to work. Management and the delivery teams have to get used to doing things differently. The faster they can think differently, the faster you’ll see the benefits of a PMO implementation or improvement program.
It’s so important to carry out organizational change management work to prepare for the next steps for your PMO. You wouldn’t expect a project manager to deliver a project without engaging the people who will be most affected, and then doing a proper handover. Taking your PMO to the next level is exactly the same.
Whether you plan to introduce new services, rollout a new enterprise project management tool, introduce deeper project analytics and dashboards or something else, here are the three core steps for managing organizational change.
1. Prepare for Change
First, prepare for the changes that are coming. This means defining your strategy for change. How are you going to approach it? What are you going to deliver as change management activities? How do these fit alongside your other project work and the incremental or transformative changes you’re delivering?
Think about who is going to sponsor and lead your changes. Invite them to do so and build a robust governance model to manage the change going forward.
You’ll also want to recruit any individuals you need to support the change. These people don’t have to be full-time on your change initiative. You might want your corporate internal communications team to support with messaging about the new PMO services. You might need to engage HR and the training team for help with delivering software training for new tools. Think about who should be involved to make the work a success.
2. Plan and Implement Change
With that thinking done, move on to planning the tangible deliverables. As you would expect from your project management team, your change needs a plan.
In this step, you’ll build out a change management plan. Take the time to identify any risks associated with your work, and think about how you are going to mitigate them. Think about how you will know if the work is complete and whether it is of the quality you expected. Set some metrics to help.
The metrics, plans and schedule will necessarily be different depending on what changes your PMO is going through. The work involved in launching a new coaching service to support remote project team members is different to introducing an internal audit or peer review function, and different again to implementing a new enterprise project management software system.
Make sure the steps you take are tailored to the end result you are delivering, but draw on your team’s experience in project management and use the project methodology and risk management approach that you expect them to be applying for their project. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel when you have something already you can reuse!
Once you have your plans prepared, the next logical step is to work through them. Implement the changes. This could take some time depending on what it is you are delivering. Be patient. Changes can take a while to embed, and like any project, you’ll have to adapt your plans as you go. The feedback you get from the team, and the levels of engagement you seek on the solution, will help you shape the latter part of the implementation.
When your plans are complete and the work has been delivered, celebrate! Your PMO has just taken another step forward to becoming a critical contributor to business success.
3. Continuously Improve
The change management process does not stop when the project is complete. You have a final step to consider: learning the lessons from that implementation and improving as required.
You’ve integrated the changes into business processes. Your procedures are updated and people know what it is they have to do. But over time, they’ll work out how it could be even better.
There are a number of different ways to capture continuous improvement ideas and feed these back to the PMO team. For example, you could:
- Survey the PMO team
- Survey people who use the PMO services
- Capture ad hoc feedback during meetings
- Hold a formal lessons learned session at the end of the delivery phase of the project
- Capture quantitative data and metrics
- Ask senior managers for their feedback
And so on. Use a variety of different ways to capture ideas from the people who work within and are affected by the efforts of the PMO.
Look at the data you’ve gathered – both hard numbers and informal feedback. The results give you valuable information about the direction you should be moving in. When you feel you understand the data, you can put together corrective action plans to make incremental improvements.
Change management is a key function of a PMO, but also something the PMO has to get good at doing to itself if it wants to improve. Planning for change management gives you a better chance of getting the outcome you want and the benefits you expect.