How PMOs Can Help Agile Projects

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

It may not always be apparent, but the goals of the Project Management Office and agile teams are well aligned. Both groups want to get to the same destination: successful projects and happy stakeholders. However, things often come adrift as soon as the best direction to travel is discussed. The PMO might expect lots of planning and some documentation to confirm everyone understands the approach, while an agile project team might want to build some proof-of-concept models to test feasibility and get confirmation of understanding. Very quickly, the two groups can disengage and have difficulty generating alignment again.

This is one reason agile teams don’t always see the PMO as a source of assistance. All too often, a traditional PMO can Present Multiple Obstacles--but it does not have to be that way.

First, let’s examine what PMOs are supposed to do. The old roles of Rules, Tools and Schools goes some way to describing their functions, but a more complete set of offerings was provided in the 2010 PMI Project Management Journal article “Identifying Forces Driving PMO Changes”:

  1. Monitor and control project performance
  2. Develop and implement standard methodologies, processes and tools
  3. Develop the competency of project personnel, with training and mentoring
  4. Multi-project management, including program and portfolio …

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