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Topics: Agile, PMO, Scrum
Is the PMO needed in Agile?

According to Agile enthusiasts Scrum and/or other (software) Agile frameworks are enough to manage projects and can be scaled to an Enterprise level. What do you think?
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Agile has it's place, but it is not a panacea. It naturally lends itself to software projects. With hardware and when there are very long lead times on aspects of the project, that kind of iterative development is tricky. Going back and making changes can sink a budget very rapidly once the plan is fully baked.

Agile doesn't manage projects, but it's a way of doing projects. When organization have a large number of projects, and there is value/benefit from managing or monitoring them centrally, then a PMO can help. A PMO may adopt Agile in one or many of it's projects, but Agile will never take its place. A PMO may be needed regardless of Agile being adopted or not, and if it is adopted, I don't believe it will diminish the need for a PMO.

Scaling up of Agile is required for managing multiple related projects. PMO or similar structures is necessary to address project dependencies. Scaling up can be at program or portfolio level based on the number of projects involved

Stelian -

Even if agility is extended to the organization and its portfolios, there is benefit in having a group which is responsible for facilitating portfolio decision making, supporting self-serve information pulling, monitoring and reporting on organizational blockers and helping to elevate organizational delivery capability. As the rest of the organization transforms, established PMOs will need to transform as well to avoid becoming obsolete.


@Keith, I agree that Agile is not a silver bullet and is not always the best option. In the original paper Takeuchi and Nonaka mentioned few situations when Scrum won't work even in software development. But that's not the topic. The question was about the PMO in Agile. Scrum doesn't need a PMO and from the Project Management point of view what a Scrum does is not a project.

@Sante, I share teh same view. Agile is not a methodology; it is a collection of practices that can be used to deliver parts of a project. I've seen organisation that try to replace the PM with SM, mainly as a cost saving exercise. If there are no projects and no PMs is there a role for PMO?

@Symon, I don't believe that the role of the PMO is to address project dependencies. That's what programs are for. In my opinion PMO's role is to define the project delivery framework/methodology and to support the Project Managers. Unfortunately in many organisations the PMO is just a reporting team that manage a PPM tool making sure that PMs are updating the RAG status. I don't believe that that kind of PMO ads value in an Agile organisation and from the Lean perspective is just waste because it doesn't contribute to the project(s) delivery. Agile means thinking outside the box and challenging the status-quo. One of those challenges is the presence and the role of the PMO.

@Kiron, I share your views.
1. There is a place for a (transformed) PMO in Agile
2. PMO must respond to the need of an Agile organisation. The traditional PMO doesn't add value to Agile delivery and in many instances is an impediment to Agile
3. PMO should work from the portfolio level upwards
4. PMO should have the profile of an Enterprise Scrum Master, facilitating delivery by creating/supporting an Agile culture, fostering collaboration rather than control, the pull of (relevant) information rather than pushing, removing impediments that are beyond PO's responsibility etc.

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