The Agile PMO Role

Tamara Sulaiman, PMP, CST
The program management office is one area where an identity complex of sorts can develop when organizations shift to agile software development practices. To many practitioners in the agile world, the term "Agile PMO" sounds like an oxymoron. Under agile methods, agile teams are cross-functional, self organizing and self managing, right? Doesn’t this imply that a centralized managing structure like the PMO isn’t necessary anymore? While it’s certainly true that agile teams are cross-functional as well as self-organizing and self-managing, it is not true that there is no role for the PMO in an agile organization.
 
First, let’s take a look at what I mean by program management. The definition of traditional program management that I use is relatively straight forward: 
  • A group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually.
  • Programs may include elements of related work (e.g. maintenance operations) outside the scope of discrete projects
A traditional PMO is responsible (in full or in part) for: 
  • Participating in project portfolio management
  • Supervising project objectives
  • Maintaining standards
  • Reporting enterprise project information

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