Few days ago I had the opportunity to attend the event “L’evoluzione del PMO” successfully organized by the PMI North Italian Chapter PMO Italian Observatory –
During the day several companies have presented the status of their PMOs. A lot of them are in a mature stage and some of them are facing the emerging trend of Agile Project Management.
At the 2008 PMO conference I asked to Gerard Hill, author of the book “The complete project management office handbook”, how the Agile methodologies are managed by PMO. The answer was that Agile was not considered.
Four years are passed and now Agile is becoming popular in managing IT projects (and not only). PMOs have now new challenges to face in order to support the transition and a common support for classic and agile projects.
New problems are becoming evident: if with classical projects processes and procedures are guidelines to follow, in Agile the aim is to encourage the auto-organization and collaboration within all stakeolders. Agile teams tend to encourage the change request anticipating risks and opportunities.
In my opinion the PMO should give more attention to:
- soft skills improvement
- encourage team forming and collaboration
- provide coaching and training on Values and Principles at the base of Agile and Lean
- gather lesson learned periodically (every iteration) and promote improvements reducing waste (less work-in-progress -> high quality)
Which things a PMO should avoid:
- impose a common agile methodology
- track KPIs on single team member activities (it’s preferable to measure the whole team)
- ask for compliance to a processes when this compliance don’t add value to the deliverable
I’ve read two interesting books that may help the PMO to achieve these goals without change the overall process adopted by PMOs
Lean-Agile Software Development: Chapter 4 explain how to manage a Portfolio in a Lean way. The premise is that managing the work you are feeding the team is more important than how well the team works. Planning in short cycles (quarter based) allow to change the portfolio following the value stream.
Agile Project Management: Chapter 5 introduces the concept of Agile Enterprise Framework. This framework models with 4 layers the Enterprise Project Management. We have the Portfolio Governance, Project Management, Iteration Management and Technical Practices. For example you can use PMBOK in PM layer, Scrum in iteration management and XP in technical practices layer.
This is a great challenge for Enterprise organization that need to innovate keeping a governance on their portfolio. PMOs may be the key of the success if are able to support the agile transition.