Disruption Done Right

EPMOs Can Help Digital Transformations Spark Cohesive Change

By Abid Mustafa

The digital revolution can't be stopped—but it can stop organizations. According to a 2019 global survey by Couchbase, 81 percent of enterprises had a digital transformation project fail, suffer significant delays or be scaled back. One upside to a competitive landscape littered with setbacks is that there are so many lessons to be gleaned. Before organizations launch complex digital initiatives, they must examine the failures across their respective industries.

As a neutral and avid observer of many such attempts, the enterprise project management office (EPMO) can help shape the debate around successful transition strategies. Here are three ways the EMPO can proactively foster executive consensus for digital success.


The C-suite often disagrees on what “going digital” means. A CFO sees a reduction in the workforce. The COO imagines paperless workflows and greater process automation. The CIO envisions faster deployment of automation to solve business problems. And the chief strategy officer will unequivocally talk about a new online channel to sell products. With support from the C-suite, the EPMO can step in to erase confusion. The EPMO should drive the discussion to generate a unified view on what digital represents in its industry and what it means to the organization.


Organizations too often rush to create online digital channels, such as implementing a mobile app or a chat channel with existing processes. Very little thinking goes into the business model or how the use of digital tools reinvents the customer journey. A crude analogy: The C-suite views digital akin to putting radio on television. Replicating existing processes and putting them in the digital space are likely to lead to failure. The EPMO is well suited to spark ideas about reinventing business models and customer journeys that achieve the right goals.



Many organizations do the hard work and succeed in adding new digital channels—only to fail in attracting customer traffic. Why? The organization put no thought into changing customer behaviors to adopt the new digital channels. With its rich history in change management, the EPMO is ideally placed to develop an organizational framework for the customer adoption of digital channels.

It might seem logical to let external consultants develop the digital vision, then turn to the organization's experts to implement. But the EPMO should be given responsibility for concept development and execution. With the right type of encouragement and support from the C-suite, the EPMO can help the organization to reap significant savings and simultaneously deliver complex digital programs. PM

img Abid Mustafa has worked with project management offices for 12 years. His book In the Age of Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful is available in paperback and on Kindle.
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