Using Change Management to implement PPM successfully

Blog 08-04-2021

A feature of my recent blogs has been how to choose the right PPM tool for your organisation. Too often, I have seen a glitzy tool that has been chosen and the organisation has years of painful implementation ahead of them. And some just abandon the toolset. So assuming that you have picked the tool that is right for your organisation, you now need to plan its implementation. In your tendering process you should have understood from the vendor their preferred approach to implementation and what support they will give you to ensure that the toolset is successful. We need to remember that PPM tools are often bought for a minimum of 3 years so you have plenty of time to repent if you choose the wrong one.

At a recent bid that we were doing for our PPM tool, PM3, we were asked about our change management approach to implementing PM3. I was delighted by this question as it is so important but so infrequently asked. Typically, selection is focused on a myriad of functionality that is ‘needed’ by the organisation. These needs are often a wish list and hardly ever prioritized into MoSCoW categories. Many PPM tools have very similar functionality so an important selection criterion should be assessing the change management approach from the Vendor and the level of support that a vendor can provide you.

I do have some warnings here. There are many PPM tools in the marketplace but some are literally one-man bands. We recently replaced an incumbent tool at a FTSE 100 company that was using a PPM tool from a supplier that had one employee! They had no support, one release every 18 months and, apart from a little initial training, no further support or training were offered. Unsurprisingly, this tool was quickly abandoned.

You also want to select an organisation that is financially stable. To find out the financial strength of a company, check their financial position on Companies House or use this website that presents Companies House data in a user-friendly format.

The other extreme is the large multi-national vendor that is usually based in America and has sales offices in the UK. They can offer good support but the ‘sales offices’ are targeted at sales, not on-going support and, If this has to come from another continent, it may not suit you.

Change Management Approach

There are probably PPM tools in the marketplace that have more functionality than our PPM tool, PM3, but few organisations adopt our approach to implementing a PPM tool. Our approach is summarized below:

  • We treat implementing PM3 as a project and, ‘eating our own dogfood’, we plan and manage this implementation project using PM3
  • We ensure that we have an active and senior sponsor who can champion the tool implementation. Although PM3 offers many benefits to the PMO and project managers, there is sometimes a ‘not invented’ here syndrome, where project managers start using Excel, PowerPoint, and other tools to manage their projects and not a central PPM tool
  • Develop a compelling need to change for all the PPM stakeholders. This really does need to be compelling, and stakeholders need to buy in to why we are using this new toolset and the benefits that will accrue. This narrative should also explain why the status quo is not a viable alternative
  • Understand the organisation’s processes that the new tool like PM3 must support or integrate with. Implementing a tool in isolation from processes is not desirable and will not deliver successful outcomes
  • Break the tool implementation into phases. Start small and then scale up in subsequent phases. For example, we recommend using the planning, finance, and governance of PM3 in phase 1 and then in subsequent phases adopt other tool functions like: resource management, portfolio planning, and demand management. Trying to implement the toolset in one phase can overload the stakeholders with too much change and lead to a poor level of adoption
  • Training. Our recommendation would be to use role-based training as this should ensure that the training is more targeted at what people need to use the tool in their day to day jobs rather than covering parts of a tool that they will never need
  • Mentoring. Our view is that training is necessary but not sufficient to embed a new tool into an organisation. The mentoring, ideally by project and programme professionals (Bestoutcome’s approach) is a great way of reinforcing the change narrative and overcoming a learning curve with any new tool
  • Post Implementation audits and health checks. After 6 months or a year, there should be a health check that looks at how well the tool is being used and recommends any further implementation activities that may be required to ensure the organisation’s benefits of the PPM tool are being delivered.


In my view, these change management activities are so important to releasing the benefits of a tool like PM3, it is essential that when you select your PPM tool the vendor can support you in managing this change.

If there is a choice between a slightly better tool coupled with poor change management and a tool that is not as functionally rich but it is implemented successfully using good change management, I would always opt for the latter!

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