Project Management

Lean Governance: The Future of PMOs?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

There are certain phrases or terms that seem almost destined to cause confusion around projects. “PMO” is one of them: Does the P stand for portfolio, program or project? Is a PMO a governance and oversight function for project delivery, or a business department aimed at improving organizational performance? Or is it both? The answer is almost always, “It depends.”

And that’s always the problem when it comes to writing around such terms. Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about lean governance, so I thought I may as well weigh in with my thoughts, likely clouding the waters still further with my own interpretation of what it is—and what it means for PMOs.

What is lean governance?
We have to start with that most problematic question of what the concept is. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) describes it as “the oversight and decision-making of spending, audit and compliance, forecasting expenses, and measurement.” There’s a bit more detail in that link, but it really only talks to the importance of dynamic funding, constant measurement and continuous adjustments to maintain compliance. It’s lacking in detail.

PMI’s Disciplined Agile offers a definition of lean IT governance that states it “is the leadership, organizational structures and streamlined processes to enable IT to …


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- Robert Frost