Starting the Conversation: PMO and Change Management

Does your PMO have any involvement with change management? At the March PMO Flashmob, held at Shell Centre on the Southbank, we wanted to find out more about Change Management and if there is a role for the PMO within that.

We had Ranjit Sidhu with us and Change Management is totally her bag (have a look at ChangeQuest to see what I mean) which was ideal for us because as far as I know there hasn’t really been any conversations around the subject of Change Management and the PMO.

So just to be clear what we are talking about when we say Change Management, Ranjit gave us two definitions:

The application of processes and tools for leading the people side of change to achieve a desired outcome


An approach to transitioning individuals, teams and organisations to a desired future state

So it’s all about the soft, fluffy human side of projects and how people are affected when a project is being run and completed. So when thinking about Change Management, the ideal situation is to weave in these approaches, processes and tools as the project is being delivered. If we think about traditional projects, we tend to focus on the deliverables – when will they be delivered and by whom. Sometimes this focus on hard and fast deliverables means we often forget to think about what the impact of these deliverables might be on the people who will have to experience and work with them. If they’re not happy it doesn’t matter how well that project was managed, how quickly it was delivered and how much it cost, it won’t be successful.

A great example given by Ranjit is to think about a project like a relocation. People moving from one building to another. A relatively easy project until we throw in people’s behaviours, attitudes, habits, insecurities, egos, thoughts and feelings. People really can get upset when they think their current working environment might change for the worse. If you’ve never worked in a massive open plan office before, or you’ll not be sitting near the people you’ve worked with for years, or even where you normally eat your lunch is going, disappearing, I guess you can see why the soft and fluffy side might become a bit of a nightmare if you’re planning a project like this.

Ranjit talked through the elements of Change Management using an overview sheet (below, just click to make it bigger) with different aspects of change.

2015-03-19 19.14.27



change-managerI think before we can even start to think about the role of the PMO in Change Management, we do need to understand more about what it really is. Personally I’m going to read through the Change Manager’s Handbook just because I love all this kind of people, behavioural stuff.

SoThursday night’s PMO Flashmob was focused on understanding Change Management first. In an hour and a half – and after working all day 🙂 there was only a few minutes left to think about what this might mean for the PMO. I think people went away with lots of food for thought which is great for our initial foray into this subject area. We are definitely going to come back to it at a later PMO Flashmob too because we need to take the conversation forwards.

Here I’m going to share what I took away from it and perhaps where we need to be looking next time we pick up the subject again

The PMO Role in Change Management

1. First of all there is the PMO’s own work in areas like new processes. If its a new process it’s going to affect someone so there’s the change management bit right there.

2. Existing portfolio, programme and project documentation such as templates for business cases, charters, highlight reports etc could be updated to include the need for change management elements. If it’s not there are we more likely to forget or ignore change management

3. PMO as an advocate for change management. Do our project people understand enough about change management, if not what should the PMO be doing in helping them get educated?

4. Can the PMO assist on projects with the change management bits. I’m thinking PMOs are pretty good at facilitating, holding workshops, running  feedback mechanisms, capturing and disseminating good news stories.

5. Is change management a potential career option for PMO? Why not have someone within the team who is a change expert carrying out an advisory/mentor role for project managers? Why not have people in the PMO supporting a Change Manager’s position?

6. The PMO carries out activities like on-boarding all the time for team members. Isn’t on-boarding also a time of change for someone? Do we consider how change management can be used to help people get settled quicker and become productive quicker?

7. PMOs are ideally placed to support and assist change management activities in the organisation. They’re right there between delivery teams and senior management. There has to be something here that puts them at an advantage when it comes to change management. I don’t know what it is but it makes for a great conversation until we uncover more about the possibilities.

Here’s what another PMO Flashmobber took away from the evening:

I found yesterday really useful in that change management is something that i think the PMO can start influencing Project and Programme managers around. With my experience, the PMO can be left with some of the burden of ineffective change management and I’d really like to see the PMO having a strong voice behind eradicating this!





About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.

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