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Project Portfolio Management, Transformation

Why Proactive Change Management is the Right Approach to Transformation (Part 1)

Putting people before technology is always the best place to start.

Published By Debra Aizikovitz
Why Proactive Change Management is the Right Approach to Transformation (Part 1)

You know the saying: The only constant is change. It’s true in business — it’s certainly true in life — and it’s why proactive change management matters.

Consider this statistic from Gartner:  

“The typical organization today has undertaken five major firmwide changes in the past three years — and nearly 75% expect to multiply the types of major change initiatives they will undertake in the next three years.” 

As often as we humans must respond to change, you’d think we’d have a higher success rate with big changes at work, such as business transformations. 

Turns out that’s not the case. 

Back to Gartner: “Half of change initiatives fail, and only 34% are a clear success.” 

When a transformation doesn’t stick – whether it’s digital, Agile, organizational, or a combination — you risk missing your critical business outcomes.  

You still don’t move the needle on your growth targets. You still don’t get products to market any faster. And so on. 

Enter Organizational Change Management 

Organizational change management (OCM) — an approach to transformation that champions the “people side of change” — is one of the best strategies you can use to improve the effectiveness of your transformation initiatives. 

Because here’s the thing: People are the common denominator in every change, large and small.  

And the more intentional you are about including the people in your company and communicating clearly with them, the more successful your change will be. 

In this series of three blog posts, you’ll dive into the story of a biotech company we’ve recently worked with to help them align their technology and business teams so they could start achieving the outcomes of their transformation.  

Read on to find out how the principles of proactive change management played a large role in resolving pain points they experienced with their previous software implementation. 

Integrating and Standardizing a PPM System 

Before this biotech company came to Planview, its leadership recognized the need for managing the people side of change. The main stakeholders created a Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) Transformation Team to define the goals for a new project management office (PMO) and implement a new software solution.  

The key objective for their transformation was to integrate and standardize their PPM system.  

Their diverse portfolio of projects spanned multiple business units and used an existing, partially configured project portfolio management system and various disparate tools. They had no data visualization or analytics tools available, which provided no actionable line of sight to the capacity of and demand upon the resources.   

They needed an easy-to-use system with robust resource management capability and intuitive analytics to improve project outcomes and maintain awareness of portfolio health. 

Specific pain points within the existing PMO ecosystem stymied the implementation of their existing Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM) and PPM solutions. Those pain points included, but were not limited to:   

User Experience 

Many users did not consider the current PPM system modern, intuitive, or user-friendly. 

Demand Management 

The absence of a consolidated view of demand with consistent governance and related processes hindered proactive planning, decision making, and overall control. 

Financial Management 

Due to loosely coupled PMO and financial management processes, it was difficult to ascertain or articulate how the technology organization contributed to business success.  


The initial PMO operating state was federated across the business units with various tools and methods. Without a foundational process framework supported by the PPM toolset, it was difficult to set expectations and serve as an authority for standards of execution. 


The lack of an integrated PPM solution drove the proliferation of tools and hindered the establishment of standards for efficient and prompt project execution. Additionally, user adoption of their existing PPM system adoption was limited. The implementation focused too little on the people using the system and too much on simply using the system.  

A Change in Tools Needed a Change in Governance 

As much as this company planned to integrate and standardize its PPM system to address the above pain points, it also planned a change in its governance structure.  

The PPM Transformation leaders at the biotech company understood that by creating a new Portfolio Management Office Center of Excellence (PMO COE) they could centralize and advance core PPM capabilities.

This enabled their technology teams to better align with business demand.  

The new PMO COE drove the restructure to include a streamlined and simplified PPM landscape that supported collaboration and insights across all business units and the implementation of a holistic, fit-for-purpose PPM technology strategy. 

With these changes in governance and tooling, the company sought this business value:  

Alignment on business value delivery 

Business value is defined, checked throughout execution, and measured upon completion of work, in alignment with the stated objectives of the requesting business. 

Accelerated execution through more efficient processes 

Processes are right-sized, roles and responsibilities are clear, touchpoints with adjacent processes and teams are seamless, policies and controls are accounted for, and tools are simple and intuitive, allowing teams to focus on and accelerate delivery 

Visibility to and governance of the entire portfolio 

They have a complete, holistic view of technology work and make fact-based decisions to drive delivery. 

A single version of “truth” for the portfolio 

Consistent messaging and transparency, with aggregated portfolio data across business units for meaningful insights.   

5-Point Organizational Change Management Plan 

By leveraging the principles of proactive change management, this biotech company facilitated a holistic change implementation and adoption of their new PPM Transformation process and technology solutions for all stakeholders. 

The focus was on changing the people’s mindset to move from the disparate systems along with the lack of use for the existing PPM system to think about transformation using a change-adapt-revise mindset.  

Put simply, the people came before the technology.  

They developed the following guiding principles for change management to help the organization understand how to move through the change: 


Provide targeted messages through a cohesive story relevant to the impacted stakeholders. 


Enlist engagement from executives, directors, and manager influencers to mitigate resistance and increase adoption. 


Engage leaders across the organization who visibly support transformation and empower others. 


Deliver relevant, just-in-time training via multi-channel formats. 


Identify the early adopters and people who have contributed to the success of the transformation.  

Scope for Organizational Change Management 

Finally, the company incorporated these key focus areas to create a holistic, proactive change management plan.  

  • Stakeholder identification and management 
  • Planning and execution of program communication and branding 
  • Establishing the Change Champion role and responsibilities 
  • Preparing and guiding Change Champions through the change process 
  • Stakeholder feedback and lessons learned 
  • End user preparation and training 
  • Change adoption monitoring and metrics 

Make Transformations Stickier 

Organizational change management is a key strategy for improving the effectiveness of transformation initiatives, as it puts people first and acknowledges their role in change. By intentionally including people and communicating clearly with them, companies can improve their success rates. 

You want to know the rest of the story, right? Check out part two of this biotech company’s story, where you’ll learn five actions to help your organization beat the transformation odds.

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Written by Debra Aizikovitz

With 30+ years in the project portfolio management field and an emphasis on strategic planning, Debra is a key thought leader who will help customers drive their enterprise strategic planning and delivery of investments to become a strategic planning powerhouse with a touch of organizational change management.