From reporting change to change enabler

During organizational changes, the PMO is often viewed as a record keeper; but it's capable of playing a much grander role


During organizational changes, the PMO is often viewed as a record keeper. But it’s capable of playing a much grander role.


When an organization undergoes company-wide changes, the project management office (PMO) is usually tasked with reporting progress to executives. This means the PMO keeps track of the implementation of executive decisions, monitors program teams and keeps the executive steering committee informed. However, the PMO can utilize its close relationship with executives to play a much more constructive role in the process, making the move from a spectator to an enabler of change.

Some may argue that organizational change management is for the HR department, and they’re partially right. HR is good at managing changes, but the PMO can take it one step further by ensuring the change initiative’s successful implementation and adoption.



Every organization has a department or two that functions in a silo. That can be challenging when organization-wide changes occur. But the nature of the PMO’s functional disposition means it can more easily navigate organizational barriers and engage with all types of employees at all levels to complete project work. Its consistent interaction with each department puts the PMO in a comfortable position not only to complement change activities but also to lead them.


Large-scale change initiatives are sometimes met with fear and uncertainty by employees. For those initiatives to be successful, trust is extremely important. The PMO’s project delivery approach makes the PMO staff more accessible to employees, and having a trusted partner by their side can help workers ease into potentially difficult transitions. The PMO can also galvanize support for change activities among key groups of workers. Rallying behind a trusted employee who can sympathize with the burdens of organizational change makes the changes more bearable.


The PMO has the unique ability to integrate organizational change management tools and techniques with project management methodology. Treating large-scale changes as a project to be managed, the PMO can minimize resistance and ensure a smooth transition for the entire organization. Applying project management skills within the organization means everyone is informed, budgets are kept and schedules are met.

For the PMO to become an enabler of change, executives must utilize the PMO beyond its reporting functions. PMOs can play a significant role in ensuring that change among the target population takes a permanent hold—and the intended benefits of the change are realized for the organization. The PMO staff can reduce the gap between the company’s appetite for change and the capacity to support change. PM


Abid Mustafa is the author of In the Age of Turbulence: How to Make Executive PMOs Successful, available in paperback and on Kindle.

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