Project Management

How PMOs Can Help Agile Projects

Mike Griffiths is an experienced project manager, author and consultant who works for PMI as a subject matter expert. Before joining PMI, Mike consulted and managed innovation and technology projects throughout Europe, North and South America for 30+ years. He was co-lead for the PMBOK Guideā€”Seventh Edition, lead for the Agile Practice Guide, and contributor to the PMI-ACP and PMP exam content outlines. Outside of PMI, Mike maintains the websites about leading teams and, which teaches project management for visual learners.

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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