From PMO to APO


The Transformation of a

Project Management Team



By Celina Saavedra, Dr. Schenita Floyd, Mohammad Mobashirin and Rodney Ivester

University of North Texas System

Denton, Texas, USA


Change can be difficult and unnerving, especially when it involves a major transformation in the workplace during a pandemic. In such a circumstance, strategy and compassion must be of the utmost importance when executing a major workplace transformation. That was the approach our leadership team took over a year and a half ago to transform our team from a Project Management Office (PMO) to an Agile Product Office (APO). The start was rocky due to budget and job cuts. Still, the leadership allowed the team to navigate through the turbulence and develop a strategy that would benefit the immediate team and the entire organization.

The transformation entailed the team formerly known as the PMO to assess the processes and tools used in their current workplace and streamline it to be more agile and valuable to the customer. The agile manifesto helped the team set their initial steps. The steps included showing empathy for the customer by eliminating unnecessary approvals. Other actions followed, including a roadmap, training curriculum, and continuous improvement based on solicited feedback. Take a ride with us as we demonstrate the path taken to transform a PMO into an APO while maintaining project management best practices and state-mandated processes and procedures.

Keywords:  agile, project management, workplace transformation, training

From PMO to APO: The Transformation of a Project Management Team

Change is inevitable and necessary to stay competitive in our advanced society. Leaders evaluate their organizations to identify ways to be more effective and efficient. ITSS leadership team tapped the Project Management Office (PMO) to implement new processes and procedures to eliminate roadblocks, add value, promote agility and customer service, and increase efficiencies. The PMO focused on incorporating more agile practices, which initiated the transformation from a PMO to an Agile Products Office (APO). Within months, the team went from less than a handful of agile projects a year to complete agile immersion as it transformed into an APO.

Capturing the essence of the transformation the PMO underwent requires understanding the ITSS organization, background information on the transformation process, and a concise narrative of the before and after picture of the organization. Training the organization was pivotal to the transformation, so a curriculum was developed to educate employees across all divisions to continue the momentum and ensure cohesion. A roadmap helped maintain the momentum. Through the journey, lessons were learned, and tools and techniques were identified to help tell the story of how ITSS transformed from a PMO to an APO.

About ITSS at UNT System

University of North Texas Information Technology Shared Services (ITSS) is committed to helping the UNT System campuses accomplish their mission and strategic goals by working in a partnership with customers, understanding their needs, and striving for excellence in the technology solutions we offer.

Enterprise Applications provides application development, administration, security, and support for the UNT System’s enterprise deployments of PeopleSoft Campus Solutions: HR/Payroll, Financials, Constituent Relationship Management, and Application Portal. Business analysis services are also an integral part of this PeopleSoft offering, known across the System’s campuses as EIS (Enterprise Information System).

In addition, EA also provides deployment support for Perceptive Content, the document imaging system used across the system, and data integration and technical support for key systems, including the Blackboard learning management system; Blackboard Analytics, an academic reporting and data analysis system; uAcheive, an advising and degree audit system; Ad Astra classroom, exam, and event scheduling; among many others.


To read entire paper, click here

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 14th UT Dallas PM Symposium in May 2022.  It is republished here with the permission of the authors and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Author Saavedra, C., Floyd, S., Mobashirin, M., Ivester, R. (2022). From PMO to APO: The Transformation of a Project Management Team; presented at the 14th University of Texas at Dallas Project Management Symposium in Richardson, TX, USA in May 2022; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue VI, June.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/pmwj118-Jun2022-Saavedra-et-al-from-pmo-to-apo-transformation-of-pm-team.pdf

About the Authors

Celina Saavedra 

Denton, Texas, USA


 Celina Saavedra, PMP, CSM, PMI-ACP leads the Agile Products Office (APO) project management team at UNT System. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and many certifications, including project management professional, certified scrum master, and PMI agile professional. She has over twenty years leading change, managing teams, and influencing continued growth. She has experience implementing workforce management programs, business financial systems, grant management systems, and other information technologies. Celina can be contacted at Celina.Saavedra@untsystem.edu


Schenita Floyd, PhD 

Denton, Texas, USA


Schenita Floyd, PhD, PMP, CSM is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas with over twenty years of program and project management experience in the information technology industry. She has a PhD in information science from the University of North Texas, an MBA from Southeastern University, a Master’s certificate in project management from George Washington University, and a BS in electrical engineering from Texas A&M. She has published journal articles on project management and various technologies. Additionally, she has received several awards and was featured in the Dallas Business Journal. Before becoming a full-time professor, she worked as a senior project manager at UNT System, managing large system-wide projects and helping the team to build the Agile Products Office (APO). She worked with other team members of the APO to evangelize agile principles and train employees on agile practices throughout the IT organization. When she is not teaching or researching, she is active in several non-profit organizations, including Dallas CASA, where she advocates for foster care children in the Dallas area.


Mohammad Mobashirin 

Denton, Texas, USA


Mohammad Mobashirin, PMP has over twenty years of experience in information technology as a project manager, business analyst, system analyst, and software developer. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas and an MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas. He leads many state-mandated and system-wide large projects for all the University of North Texas System campuses. He has a remarkable ability to build teams that embrace agility, creativity, and profitability.


Rodney Ivester 

Denton, Texas, USA


Rodney Ivester, PMP is currently with the University of North Texas and has been a member of the APO team since 2019. His professional career includes over 37 years with established Information Technology experience in project management, process management, sales, and a variety of areas of technical knowledge. He has managed small to large scale rapid deployment projects across a variety of technical and business organizations working directly with business executives and C-level personnel, balancing in-depth technical knowledge as well as strong business continuity. His expertise includes in-depth work within multiple levels of Service Management (ITIL certified), Project Management (following PMP standards) within a multitude of industries, while also maintaining a Federal Government 6C “Top Secret” clearance. He is also a network and systems engineer that has performed a variety of functions and working with technologies including Datacenter relocations/buildouts, Cyber Security, Network design, Call Centers, Business and Technology consulting, Sales support, Datacenter Operations, Cisco, Nortel, Network General, Citrix, BigIP, Microsoft Server, Novell Netware, IBM OS/2, UNIX, Mainframe, Token Ring, Ethernet, Fiber, Dell/IBM/Compaq servers, and IVR voice response telephony systems utilizing advanced call processing technologies and network interconnectivity. He has worked within U.S. federal government, city government, healthcare, financial, travel, transportation, telecommunications, energy, commercial, and private industry environments. His portfolio also includes working with corporations to attain ISO 9000/9001 certifications.