Do you need a transformation management office?


A “transformation” means that something fundamentally changes — but it doesn’t always mean success.


In fact, most business technology transformations are not successful at meeting the original visions and goals defined for them.


Conducting an enterprise-spanning technology transformation can be a little like conducting heart surgery on someone who’s competing in a triathlon. Successful transformations require organizations to be multi-disciplinary, durable and focused over an intense period, and the best triathletes rely on collaboration across a team of coaches with distinct specializations, along with the support of other athletes, all to cross the finish line with success.




Change your approach to transformation


Transformation programs are comprised of several projects happening concurrently. Traditionally, a group of projects that might be interrelated rolled up to a program manager, with status reported to executive stakeholders through a Project Management Office (PMO). However, each project was managed by a project manager in a silo. The methodologies, metrics, and definitions of success would vary across initiatives, making it difficult to assess whether projects were delivering value at higher levels in the organization.


The landscape of stalled transformations is filled with these structures. This has spurred the emergence of the Transformation Management Office (TMO) as a differentiator for achieving success. The role of the TMO is not to replace the PMO. PMOs have been a staple of structured delivery for decades. TMOs enable PMOs to do what they do best, by bringing executive stakeholders together to better define the transformation’s goals and creating an accountability model to help decision makers determine if the investment is returning value to the organization. TMOs accomplish this by:

  1. Establishing visibility across projects and programs for enterprise stakeholders and decision makers
  2. Defining the metrics that will matter for measuring the success of the transformation
  3. Linking transformation outcomes to strategic planning, financial reporting and continuous planning processes
  4. Implementing continuous monitoring of risk to the investment and achievement of success criteria over multiple fiscal cycles

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- Defines performance metrics and success criteria for the transformation
- Designs the enterprise business architecture
- Develops change management & communications campaigns
- Applies governance standards across projects
- Enforces project management controls across projects
- Monitors ongoing risks and interdependencies impacting the transformation critical path
The value realization is:
- Consistent performance management across all projects in the portfolio
- Solutions are purpose-fit for the whole enterprise
- Users and stakeholders are ready and eager for adoption of solutions across the enterprise


Standing up a TMO to bring business users, stakeholders, customers, service providers and system implementors together to achieve a common goal — your success — can mean the difference between thriving throughout the change, being comfortably miserable and taking a costly and damaging “Did Not Finish.” 




Reasons for a TMO


An effective TMO focuses the efforts of project managers and multiple providers (like system implementors) to deliver your organization’s definitions of success. The TMO is not a barrier to collaboration; it is an enabler.


With little or no guidance from the TMO, a solution provider could configure an application and go live. However, without guidance from the TMO and business users (on metrics, objective success criteria, requirements and more), there is no guarantee that value will be delivered.


It is a common misconception during an ERP implementation, for example, that the project manager assigned by a provider can manage the diversity of risks and issues happening across the enterprise during an implementation. Project managers should be effective at governing their implementation methodology and keeping their resources focused at delivering against aggressive schedules. But they cannot, by themselves, pull together the interdependencies and manage the eccentricities that impact a program-level critical path.


Another misunderstanding is that the implementor’s configuration consultants are experts in your business.


Implementation services providers often differentiate themselves based on industry knowledge, but the application of a leading practice in a back-office process often varies between two competitors in the same field. The implementation teams are very effective at configuring their solutions when they understand your unique requirements. However, they are not effective in a vacuum. Business analysts, end users, and sometimes even customers are key voices that enhance the implementor’s understanding of your needs, to ensure that configuration choices deliver effective functionality to users. 




Principles and benefits of a TMO


Instead of focusing on the outcomes of individual projects, the TMO establishes guiding principles for the PMO, project managers and service providers to effectively work together and enable success for the transformation.


TMO guiding principles include:

  1. Each initiative will have a business case that ties the need for investment to an achievable business outcome
  2. Ongoing investments in each project will be monitored to verify that value is being delivered, following the metrics set by executive stakeholders and the TMO
  3. Success criteria will be objective and testable, with results across projects reported in a standard manner that provides transparency on progress against milestones in each project
  4. Cross-project collaboration to prevent interdependencies from becoming blockers — this is a requirement for success

When organizations implement and follow these principles, benefits of the TMO structure become clear to all parties involved in the transformation, such as:

  1. Leadership is aligned on definitions of success for the transformation and reviews investments through this lens
  2. Project managers, providers and stakeholders work collaboratively to achieve a shared objective or goal
  3. Governance and communication models are understood and used consistently across all projects (like project artifact documentation and retention)
  4. A standard language is used to assess and communicate the impacts of risks and issues to the transformation critical path
  5. Change management and communication plans are developed holistically, so users can interact with changes in a consistent and transparent manner



When to stand up a TMO


If a TMO can bring stakeholders and providers together and transform how they work towards a shared outcome, when should it be stood up?


In short, it’s never too soon, nor is it ever too late if a transformation is already underway. A transformation begins once an organization determines that a change is necessary. The TMO can help add form and structure to the complex business problems the organization wants to solve. It can drive value by bringing stakeholders together to define success criteria for the transformation, formalize requirements for solutions, identify critical interdependencies, and solicit and evaluate proposals from the marketplace of solution providers that will contribute to the end goal.


Ideally, if the TMO exists from the beginning, it curates an enterprise-level understanding of the target business outcomes and how to integrate workstreams, including data transformation, integration development, quality assurance testing, through to end-user training, in a well-governed manner. Rather than being reactive to issues as they occur across projects in the transformation portfolio, the TMO establishes and executes a quality control framework that proactively mitigates risks and removes blockers from the program’s critical path.


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This chart shows that implementation of a TMO is driven by a methodology implementation, and its output is a set of activities that train and transition an organization. The TMO drives value realization, dashboards and reporting, change management, intake and prioritization, governance structure and cadence, and a tailgate process. These activities all need to be informed and facilitated by differentiators and accelerators. 


Just as it is important to transition between disciplines in a triathlon, it is important to know how to transition between stages in a transformation. Effective governance models use steering committees with key stakeholders to make timely and important decisions as each project phase completes. The TMO can provide effective decision support, based on the requirements built into a quality management plan for releases.


Transformation management is also inclusive of organizational change management. Project managers run business process, integration development and testing workstreams, focused on getting technology ready for the business. The TMO helps ensure the business is ready to adopt the technology. The TMO can help establish norms and workflows for curating knowledge management collateral, like job aides, and create a training strategy to help users at all levels of the organization prepare for adoption.


Technology transformations tend to be long and complex in nature, commonly lasting between 12-24 months or longer, and are usually capital-intensive. To help ensure a positive return on these investments, it is critical that organizations take a thoughtful, interdisciplinary approach to planning their transformations. Transformation leaders and stakeholders need to be ready to develop and deliver transformation strategies that translate the value committed into value delivered.




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