Agile PMOProject Management Office

3 Ways to Solve ‘Double Work Agile’ in the PMO

In a healthy organization with a mix of waterfall and agile projects, the PMO must devise separate ways of handling each type of project respectively. The PMO particularly runs the risk of agile teams crying “double work agile,” a situation where an agile team feels like it is doing double the work by updating its backlogs and then having to do a separate report for the PMO. A post at PM Majik suggests three simple ways to avoid this concern:

  1. Simplify reporting.
  2. Leverage agile assets.
  3. Create a draft report.

Running Parallel Lines

When an agile team feels like it is losing too much time to reporting, they will get vocal about it to their sponsor. The sponsor will probably relieve the team of the added reporting, yet still somehow hold the PMO responsible for reporting on the project. Thus, the above tips are needed to avoid messy situations like that.

In the first place, there is likely some way you can simplify how much information must be reported. A single-page report hitting all key indicators is ideal. Of course, asking that might create the opposite problem of teams saying that is not enough space, but it is enough space. The PMO can coach teams on which elements are absolutely essential to reporting—and which are not.

About leveraging assets, this is discussed:

While agile uses the approach that only produce the absolute minimum, information is captured in respect of scope, activity and progress through artefacts like the product back log, sprint back log, etc.

The PMO should review [these] assets and establish what information can be re-used.  For example, if a sprint burn down or story burn down chart is being produced, it may be possible to insert this into the single page report.  This will then give a visual update of progress.  However, it is important that there is still high level commentary to provide the important highlights.  The reason being that the report audience may not fully understand the chart and / or they may be someone who likes to read updates in text form.

Lastly, it could be a good idea for the PMO to just start attending daily stand-ups. Then they will have current data to be inserted into a draft report, which can be signed off on by the project team. A lot of immediate benefits are apparent in this strategy, if the PMO can arrange it. Smart thinking like this is what keeps the PMO alive and coexisting with agile in the first place.

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  1. “It could be a good idea for the PMO to just start attending daily stand-ups–or the PMO could stifle issue resolution by attending. In a recent unscientific blog that I posted (there is very little research in this area), I received 72 comments on this subject from both Agile PMs and Agile Practitioners. Most PMs thought that a PMO could, if managed properly, benefit Agile teams. However, most Agile Practitioners not only viewed the PMO as the Evil Empire, but considered not only the PMO but all project managers to be waste, bottlenecks and a hindrance to velocity. Many questioned whether either should be allowed to breathe oxygen in an Agile environment.

    More on this in my Jan 2016 article in Crosstalk Magazine, The Journal of Defense Software Engineering, titles titled “The Tragedy of the Commons: Establishing a Strategic Project Management Office (PMO)”. My purpose was to define how establishing and maintaining a strategic project office will help facilitate and maintain corporate transformation to a new level of efficiency, productivity, quality and commitment to excellence.

    1. Thanks for sharing that resource, Pete! It’s unfortunate that people find coexistence so difficult on both sides of the aisle. I’m actually a bit surprised that agile practitioners responded with that much hostility in your “unscientific” survey.

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