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Drive Organizational Change from the PMO

Embrace (the accountability for) change.

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  • 12 anonymous company contributors

Your Challenge

  • Organizational change management (OCM) is often an Achilles’ heel for IT departments and business units, putting projects and programs at risk – especially large, complex, transformational projects.
  • When projects that depend heavily on users and stakeholders adopting new tools, or learning new processes or skills, get executed without an effective OCM plan, the likelihood that they will fail to achieve their intended outcomes increases exponentially.
  • The root of the problem often comes down to a question of accountability: who in the organization is accountable for change management success? In the absence of any other clearly identifiable OCM leader, the PMO – as the organizational entity that is responsible for facilitating successful project outcomes – needs to step up and embrace this accountability.
  • As PMO leader, you need to hone an OCM strategy and toolkit that will help ensure projects aren’t merely completed, but that benefits are realized.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • The root of poor stakeholder adoption on change initiatives is twofold:
    • Project planning tends to fixate on technology and neglects the behavioral and cultural factors that inhibit user adoption;
    • Accountabilities for managing change and helping to realize the intended business outcomes post-project are not properly defined in advance.
  • Persuading people to change requires a “soft,” empathetic approach to keep them motivated and engaged. But don’t mistake “soft” for easy. Managing the people part of change is amongst the toughest work there is, and it requires a comfort and competency with uncertainty, ambiguity, and conflict.
  • Transformation and change are increasingly becoming the new normal. While this normality may help make people more open to change in general, specific changes still need to be planned, communicated, and managed. Agility and continuous improvement are good, but can degenerate into volatility if change isn’t managed properly.

Impact and Result

  • Plan for human nature. To ensure project success and maximize benefits, plan and facilitate the non-technical aspects of organizational change by addressing the emotional, behavioral, and cultural factors that foster stakeholder resistance and inhibit user adoption.
  • Make change management as ubiquitous as change itself. Foster a project culture that is proactive about OCM. Create a process where OCM considerations are factored in as early as project ideation and where change is actively managed throughout the project lifecycle, including after the project has closed.
  • Equip project leaders with the right tools to foster adoption. Effective OCM requires an actionable toolkit that will help plant the seeds for organizational change. With the right tools and templates, the PMO can function as the hub for change, helping the business units and project teams to consistently achieve project and post-project success.

Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out how implementing an OCM strategy through the PMO can improve project outcomes and increase benefits realization.

1. Prepare the PMO for change leadership

Assess the organization’s readiness for change and evaluate the PMO’s OCM capabilities.

2. Plant the seeds for change during project planning and initiation

Build an organic desire for change throughout the organization by developing a sponsorship action plan through the PMO and taking a proactive approach to change impacts.

3. Facilitate change adoption throughout the organization

Ensure stakeholders are engaged and ready for change by developing effective communication, transition, and training plans.

4. Establish a post-project benefits attainment process

Determine accountabilities and establish a process for tracking business outcomes after the project team has packed up and moved onto the next project.

5. Solidify the PMO’s role as change leader

Institute an Organizational Change Management Playbook through the PMO that covers tools, processes, and tactics that will scale all of the organization’s project efforts.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a twelve call advisory process.

Guided Implementation #1 - Prepare the PMO for change leadership

Call #1 - Scoping Call.
Call #2 - Review the PMO’s and the organization’s change capabilities.
Call #3 - Determine an OCM pilot initiative.

Guided Implementation #2 - Plant the seeds for change during project planning and initiation

Call #1 - Define a sponsorship action plan for change initiatives.
Call #2 - Undergo a change impact assessment.

Guided Implementation #3 - Facilitate change adoption throughout the organization

Call #1 - Perform a stakeholder analysis.
Call #2 - Prepare a communications strategy based on stakeholder types.
Call #3 - Develop training plans.

Guided Implementation #4 - Establish a post-project benefits attainment process

Call #1 - Establish a post-project benefits tracking process.
Call #2 - Implement a tracking tool.

Guided Implementation #5 - Solidify the PMO’s role as change leader

Call #1 - Evaluate the effectiveness of OCM practices.
Call #2 - Formalize an OCM playbook for the organization’s projects.

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Organizational Change Management Course

Embrace (the accountability for) change.
This course makes up part of the PPM & Projects Certificate.

Course information:

  • Title: Organizational Change Management Course
  • Number of Course Modules: 6
  • Estimated Time to Complete: 2-2.5 hours
  • Featured Analysts:
  • Barry Cousins, Sr. Research Director, Applications Practice
  • Gord Harrison, SVP of Research and Advisory
  • Now Playing: Academy: Organizational Change Management | Executive Brief

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Assess OCM Capabilities

The Purpose

  • Assess the organization’s readiness for change and evaluate the PMO’s OCM capabilities.
  • Estimate the relative difficulty and effort required for managing organizational change through a specific project.
  • Create a rough but concrete timeline that aligns organizational change management activities with project scope.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • A better understanding of the cultural appetite for change and of where the PMO needs to focus its efforts to improve OCM capabilities.
  • A project plan that includes disciplined organizational change management from start to finish.




Assess the organization’s current readiness for change.

  • Organizational Change Management Capabilities Assessment

Perform a change management SWOT analysis to assess the PMO’s capabilities.

  • A diagnosis of the PMO’s strengths and weaknesses around change management, as well as the opportunities and threats associated with driving an OCM strategy through the PMO

Define OCM success metrics.

  • Criteria for implementation success

Establish and map out a core OCM project to pilot through the workshop.

  • Project Level Assessment

Module 2: Analyze Change Impacts

The Purpose

  • Analyze the impact of the change across various dimensions of the business.
  • Develop a strategy to manage change impacts to best ensure stakeholder adoption.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Improved planning for both your project management and organizational change management efforts.
  • A more empathetic understanding of how the change will be received in order to rightsize the PMO’s OCM effort and maximize adoption.




Develop a sponsorship action plan through the PMO.

  • Sponsorship Action Plan

Determine the relevant considerations for analyzing the change impacts of a project.


Analyze the depth of each impact for each stakeholder group.

  • Organizational Change Management Capabilities Assessment

Establish a game plan to manage individual change impacts.


Document the risk assumptions and opportunities stemming from the impact analysis.

  • Risk and Opportunity Assessment

Module 3: Establish Collaborative Roles and Develop an Engagement Plan

The Purpose

  • Define a clear and compelling vision for change.
  • Define roles and responsibilities of the core project team for OCM.
  • Identify potential types and sources of resistance and enthusiasm.
  • Create a stakeholder map that visualizes relative influence and interest of stakeholders.
  • Develop an engagement plan for cultivating support for change while eliciting requirements.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Begin to communicate a compelling vision for change.
  • Delegate and divide work on elements of the transition plan among the project team and support staff.
  • Begin developing a communications plan that appeals to unique needs and attitudes of different stakeholders.
  • Cultivate support for change while eliciting requirements.




Involve the right people to drive and facilitate change.

  • RACI table

Solidify the vision of change to reinforce and sustain leadership and commitment.


Proactively identify potential skeptics in order to engage them early and address their concerns.

  • Stakeholder Analysis

Stay one step ahead of potential saboteurs to prevent them from spreading dissent.


Find opportunities to empower enthusiasts to stay motivated and promote change by encouraging others.


Formalize the stakeholder analysis to identify change champions and blockers.

  • Engagement Plan

Formalize the engagement plan to begin cultivating support while eliciting requirements.

  • Communications plan requirements

Module 4: Develop and Execute the Transition Plan

The Purpose

  • Develop a realistic, effective, and adaptable transition plan, including:
    • Clarity around leadership and vision.
    • Well-defined plans for targeting unique groups with specific messages.
    • Resistance and contingency plans.
    • Templates for gathering feedback and evaluating success.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Execute the transition in coordination with the timeline and structure of the core project.
  • Communicate the action plan and vision for change.
  • Target specific stakeholder and user groups with unique messages.
  • Deal with risks, resistance, and contingencies.
  • Evaluate success through feedback and metrics.




Sustain changes by adapting people, processes, and technologies to accept the transition.


Decide which action to take on enablers and blockers.


Start developing the training plan early to ensure training is properly timed and communicated.

  • Training Plan

Sketch a communications timeline based on a classic change curve to accommodate natural resistance.


Define plans to deal with resistance to change, objections, and fatigue.

  • Resistance Plan

Consolidate and refine communication plan requirements for each stakeholder and group.


Build the communications delivery plan.

  • Communications Plan

Define the feedback and evaluation process to ensure the project achieves its objectives.


Formalize the transition plan.

  • Transition Plan

Module 5: Institute an OCM Playbook through the PMO

The Purpose

  • Establish post-project benefits tracking timeline and commitment plans.
  • Institute a playbook for managing organizational change, including:
    • Clarity around roles and responsibilities.
    • Formalized methodology.
    • Reusable tools and templates.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • A process for ensuring the intended business outcomes are tracked and monitored after the project is completed.
  • Repeat and scale best practices around organizational change to future PMO projects.
  • Continue to build your capabilities around managing organizational change.
  • Increase the effectiveness and value of organizational change management.




Review lessons learned to improve organizational change management as a core PM discipline.

  • Lessons learned

Monitor capacity for change.

  • Organizational Change Capability Assessment

Define roles and responsibilities.


Formalize and communicate the organizational change management playbook.

  • Organizational Change Management Playbook

Regularly reassess the value and success of organizational change management.