Project Management

Helping Your PMO Help You

Southern Alberta Chapter

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 www.LeadingAnswers.com about leading teams and www.PMillustrated.com, which teaches project management for visual learners.

Do any of these traditional PMO scenarios match your agile team experiences?

Your traditional PMO is so laughably outdated that most agile projects ignore them; other projects produce token deliverables to appease them, but these bear little resemblance to anything actually happening on the agile projects. The PMO looks for conformance to BDUF (big design up front) methodologies with signoffs to premature speculations about requirements and scope definitions. It reports progress on traditional projects such as being 75% through requirements gathering or 50% through analysis and design, as if these non-value delivering activities are actual progress. Finally, when projects have issues, the PMO responds by creating more review and approval groups to ensure competence and adds gates and signoffs to try and improve quality.

If these scenarios sound familiar to you, I would like to ask a follow-up question: How is your agile rollout going? Is the PMO the last bastion of opposition or are you fighting pockets of resistance and misunderstanding throughout you organization? Is the once no-brainer decision to switch to agile actually causing some headaches and frustration? If you answered “yes” to this too, you are not alone.

It turns out the PMO is not usually the problem, but they are a good litmus or “canary in the coalmine” for how an agile …


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