What is an Agile PMO?

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PMO as per Wikipedia

A project management office, abbreviated to PMO, is a group or department within a business, agency or enterprise that defines and maintains standards for project management within the organization. The PMO strives to standardize and introduce economies of repetition in the execution of projects. The PMO is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution.

PMOs may take other functions beyond standards and methodology, and participate in Strategic project management either as facilitator or actively as owner of the Portfolio Management process. Tasks may include monitoring and reporting on active projects and portfolios (following up project until completion), and reporting progress to top management for strategic decisions on what projects to continue or cancel.

The degree of control and influence that PMOs have on projects depend on the type of PMO structure within the enterprise; it can be:

  • Supportive, with a consultative role
  • Controlling, by requiring compliance for example
  • Directive, by taking control and managing the projects

An agile PMO. Surely such a thing exists; but then how could it? Given that in the majority of organisations a PMO has directive control.

Controlling project delivery, managing capacity, risks, documentation, progress reporting. Whilst in an agile environment, the teams are self organising; controlling their own delivery, capacity and reporting is dynamically available at any given point in time. No need for extensive project reporting.

So the question is where does a PMO fit in when transforming to an agile methodology?

People naturally are adverse to change and an agile transformation is no exception. The PMO can assist greatly in the acceptance and understanding.

Training Transforming to agile is a complete mind shift in how to approach a problem. Training individuals on the concepts and benefits. Selling the process to the teams.

Facilitating & Coaching. The scrum ceremonies have a strictly defined format and each of those rules as to how to conduct a session are there for very good reasons. The PMO can initially facilitate the sessions being careful not to drive the session, but facilitate and remind of the ceremony rules an format. Stand-ups; for example, the PMO member can attend and in fact turn his back to the circle or stand on the outside of the circle. Listening on the peripheral. Should team members not answer the three obligatory questions or get in to design detail, this is the opportunity for coaching the team to stick to the 15 minute stand-up rule and take detail off-line.

Consolidating Metrics. As it did before the PMO can collect the metrics which are now real-time and in tune with actual progress. Consolidation for reporting on an overall project  or programme progress as a whole becomes that much simpler. No more asking someone for a thumb suck of the percentage complete on a task they gave you a thumb suck estimate on.

Managing the pipeline. Limiting incoming projects to capacity. Assisting the organisation management in understanding the working teams capacity and prioritizing the pipeline with this in mind.
So where does a PMO fit in when transforming to an agile methodology? (and post transformation..)

Everywhere, with the bonus of reduced operating overheads.

Advocates and trainers of the process, coaches and facilitators in the ceremonies. 

Gatekeepers to enter the process

High Level Reporting

.. everywhere


Author: Suzanne Webber, Business Transformation Specialist at Infoware Studios.


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