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What Is an Agile PMO?

Marrying a really rigid taskmaster of a PMO with agile teams is never going to work. Fortunately, a PMO does not have to be an unending series of toll gates and turnstiles in order to be effective. In a post at Managed Agile, Chuck Cobb describes how the PMO and agile can coexist and thrive.

A Different Management

Cobb begins by reminding us that agile and waterfall are not a one-or-the-other proposition and that a smart business is going to use both methodologies according to needs. A PMO should be ready to accommodate whatever project comes its way. But in the first place, a PMO’s standard responsibilities generally fall into these categories: (1) align projects and programs with business strategy, (2) provide oversight into project execution and reporting, and (3) provide guidance and training to project teams in the tools and methodologies espoused by the business.

In a general sense, none of this should change in an agile setting, though how these things get achieved will change. Cobb provides graphs at his website of how a traditional PMO might interact with a project compared to how an “adaptive” PMO would. Essentially, an adaptive PMO acts more as a project consultant than a controller, particularly where efficient processes are concerned. Meanwhile, the product owner takes on the responsibility of interacting with business users and dictating project direction. On the flip side, that means that the business side needs to be ready to support the product owner too. The PMO no longer provides any buffer in that regard.

Cobb believes it would be quite challenging for most businesses to adopt a completely adaptive PMO, though there are many ways to build a practical, good-enough hybrid PMO:

Some organizations may choose to implement a relatively complete top-to-bottom Agile transformation for their business – Dean Leffingwell’s Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is an example of such a model. However, that can be a very ambitious and gut-wrenching change for many organizations and it… also may not be the best solution

I think it is a mistake to believe that you have to force a company to do an extensive, top-to-bottom Agile transformation in order to adopt an Agile process at the development level…

Businesses have to find the approach that works naturally for them. Unfortunately, trial and error may be the only way to get from point A to point B. You can view the original post here: http://managedagile.com/2014/12/19/what-is-an-agile-pmo/

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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