Monday, August 17, 2015

How to Adjust IT Management to Embrace Agility

Agile sees the world through the lens of changes.

Agile sees the world through the lens of change and put emphasis on three “I”s Interaction, Incrementalism, and Improvement. It is not only the methodology for software development which largely resides in the stochastic or empirical domain, but a philosophy and a set of principles to run IT and business as a whole.  The correct level of management control needs to be in place - essentially governance, reporting and change management" From IT management structure perspective, does your PMO live in the Agile world as well? Where does the PMO sit when the management model moves away from control and change management toward influence and prioritization?

PMOs move from a "controlling / governance / reporting" role to a "predominantly governing / facilitating" role. The term PMO is more aligned with Waterfall Methodology and it doesn't mean you shouldn't call yourself as PMO in Agile organization. PMO defines the services/software methodology, enhances the Agile maturity of the teams, defines metrics and governs software development life cycle. There are a few flavors. PMOs should provide "bespoke" tools for agile environments-something tailored to be fit for purpose for your project. Bespoke means something built for a specific customer, that nobody else uses. The main alternative is "off the shelf." Dependency management is a great way of managing deliverables in an agile world where most people think plans aren't required because we're "agile." Change control is also a great management tool, even if it is light touch to suit agile practices. User stories can be vague and mean different things to different stakeholders.

Multifunctionality of PMO: Agile is a mindset. The change in mindset means that you regard this as a strength rather than a weakness; it helps IT managers not to make decisions too early. Often, organizations get traps in, "decided to be agile without fully understanding what it means" - If you are not going to be agile, you might need a traditional PMO. Just don't call it being agile. If you are going to be agile, then everybody needs to learn what it means. Establishing and maintaining a strategic project office, as an advisory committee to the CxO, will help facilitate and maintain the corporate Agile transformation to a new level of efficiency, productivity, quality and commitment to excellence. PMO is more to do with the IT program/portfolio delivery. This provides overall direction, control, and transparency in the delivery of various projects. Whilst the agile methodology allows for quicker sprints of activity/development being carried out across multiple different projects. There is a desire to try and give a high-level senior view of progress and delivery milestones beyond the sprint cycles. There is also the personal program element of conflicting resources, cost. The following functions may be considered for initial implementation:
-Report overall and individual project status, issues and risks to upper management
-Advise senior management on strategic project initiatives
-Provide coordination between projects, eliminate silos and ensure effective communication
-Provide mentoring, coaching and training in project management and methodologies
- Allocate resources between projects
- Implement and manage Best Practices and Lessons Learned databases to ensure the effectiveness of the program

PMO needs to adapt to the velocity and continuous delivery mode of Agile.The typical PMO may need to go through a transformation from a group supporting the PM and Project Executives to control the development and delivery process, to one supporting the whole delivery team to deliver through self-organizing and working transparently. Agile development is characterized by frequent rapid delivery of useable software by self-organizing teams with regular adaptation to change. Working software is the principal measure of progress; and increased throughput (velocity) by reduction of bottlenecks, is the primary measure of efficiency. Such methods are not very conducive to authoritarian control by the standard PMO model. Currently, many PMOs believe that Agile is a blip on the process radar that will someday go away. Agile isn’t going anywhere, mainly because customers love frequent deliveries. PMOs need to understand the Agile methods being used in their company and manage strategic processes and decisions accordingly. Somebody’s got to be the agility leader; the successful PMO will be the one that understands the difference between a project schedule and an Agile roadmap, osmotic communication, and minimal documentation vs. maximum invisible documentation.

The PMO functions, regardless of the models are almost all challenged when dealing with an Agile project. However, there is still a role to play on quite a number of these functions. The PMO should be there to ensure the correct level of management control is in place. Essentially governance, reporting and change management. Processes should be developed to suit the agile environment and help inform decisions, not hamper delivery with process and documentation.


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