Sunday, November 10, 2013

An Agile PMO

Agile PMO acts as the glue between Management & Agile teams  in Rapidly Business Changes.

Agile encourages iteration, interaction and incremental improvement to adapt to the rapid changes on the fly; does it make PMO –Project Management Office obsolete, or does Agile need to have an Agile PMO, if so, what’re the key characteristics?

When working with an agile team, the PMO will need more frequent updates and a closer relationship because agile is more accepting of the inevitable change that occurs in the process. Agile changes the way in which the PMO organization interacts with the development staff and business. Projects still need to be planned, scheduled, provisioned, and budgeted.

PMO has a crucial short-term role in the cross-departmental execution of projects and a hybrid role in the long-term planning around the organizational strategic goals. Essentially, Agile software development iterations are projects within one or more larger projects. Once the PMO is trained on Agile, and they gain confidence in the predictable engineering cycles, then they can start planning other organization initiatives around Iterations.

Any organization that has a PMO and also does Agile projects has ways to get the best out of both things if the PMO is open enough and willing to make a few adjustments. In order for the PMO to effectively participate they need to remain engaged in the planning and execution of a project. Due to the rapid iterations that occur in an agile project, the Project Manager will need more frequent updates on the status of the project, changes in scope, and adjustments to the schedule as a result. A tighter integration with Change Control is advisable in this situation as it will give the PMO greater visibility into the 'flux rate' on project scope, including new requirements, defects, and enhancement requests.

The PMO is the link between engineering and customers, and Agile PMO acting as a glue between the Management and the Agile teams, especially during the transition from traditional waterfall to Agile. Even the management needs handholding and training that the PMO could facilitate to keep close to the realized feature list.

The PMO can act as the group that guides the higher-level management effort but then defers to the delivery team during development. The use of 'Agile' for the development of a system represents a relatively small (but crucial!) part of the overall project delivery process. There is still the need for identifying the need, determining if and where a technical solution is required, some high-level determination of the costs, approval of the business case, sequencing of the project in relation to other work, the actual development and release effort, and post-production benefits realization, those are arenas PMO fits in its role. 

The PMO in Agile provides the most tactical value in the short-term by managing project deliverables that intersect with Sprints, and in the long-term strategic value by understanding the product backlog, Agile software development, and organizational goals to help shape the product roadmap. Agile projects see changes in requirements as "normal", so scope creep is not a valid metric or even something to worry about: it does not exist! Or if some of the requirements included in a sprint or iteration are not implemented at that iteration, that's no big deal, so the PMO should try not to be too pushy about gathering some metrics related to that

There is still a need for a steward of the overall portfolio delivery process. As Scrum Agile becomes more mature and scales across the enterprise, there are some successful implementations of Agile Program Management and Agile Portfolio Management. Metrics and forecasting have to be done - just more empirically. PMOs, as all other structures, can evolve and change to adapt to changing business needs. A good agile team should be able to provide more than enough detailed information to keep the PMO well informed of a project's progress as well as its expected delivery date. 

An Agile PMO to be a strong advocate of using the right project management practices (some could be agile, some could be waterfall and some could be in-between) based on the nature and size of the project. An Agile PMO definitely focuses more on enabling, facilitating, educating, and training. It will need to help Agile projects start up better and help with inter-project dependencies. It can also help with organizing QA and Test Management and Architecture across Agile projects.

An Agile PMO has the responsibility of scaling agile to the enterprise level and using agile practices in portfolio and program management while staying custodian of the processes, best practices, tools and templates in the organization. An agile PMO is to promote agility in the teams. An agile PMO can act to help the entire organization understand what changes it needs to make in terms of planning and executing in an agile context

Therefore, Agile does not negate or obviate the need for planning, especially in a large enterprise, PMOs have the critical role to play, but they also need to adopt to such Agile mentality and management disciplines. 


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