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The Uncertain Role of the PMO in Agile Environments

The world seems to be embracing all that agile has to offer, so it seems important to take a look at the inner workings of agile and its functionality within organizations. In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Lindsay Scott explores the Global State of the PMO 2015 report to uncover how agile is functioning with PMOs.

Making the Organizational Connection

According to the survey, in 2013, 42 percent of organizations made the claim that they utilized agile in some way. Of this 42 percent, nine percent utilized agile as an approach on over half of their projects.

One of the questions asked on the survey was what the most difficult aspect of implementing agile was. Of the responses, change was cited as a huge adversity to overcome in the integration of agile: “The change aspect – changing culture (52%) and changing methods (44%) and the direction needed from the top (43%) were highlighted by respondents.” Change was cited as such a hurdle because organizations have a lack of trained people, a poor understanding of the PMO, and they do not understand the role they can play in agile’s success.

PMOs are struggling because they do not fully understand all of the philosophies and frameworks that the organization seeks to adopt. PMOs may find it helpful to look at agile in the terms of “organizational readiness,” or how ready the organization is to take on this new system.

The PMOs that have embraced agile and successfully implemented it into their organizations have developed knowledge. Knowledge is what helps the change to make a smooth transition. When people understand what an agile approach means for them, they are better able to embrace agile and make it work for them.

Scrum is the most common framework, at 79 percent, that PMOs are supporting the adoption of. As PMOs continue to support the integration of these new frameworks, they can begin to shift their focus towards supporting the program itself.

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