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Topics: Agile, Organizational Project Management, Scrum
Do we need a PMO in Agile?
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Many advocate for the replacement of Project Managers with Scrum Masters.
What tipe of PMO, if there is still a PMO, will Agile bring?
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A traditional command and control PMO may not be needed, but if the PMO becomes the catalyst for driving increased organizational agility through practitioner support and coaching leadership roles through the mindset shift then it can still add value.

However in those companies where there will continue to be a mix of traditional and adaptive projects, the PMO might still need to provide standards, tools and templates.

There is also value in a PMO playing a delivery assurance role and that is irrespective of delivery approach.

It is possible the PMO might rebrand itself to clearly indicate the shift in its focus - for example a Delivery Transformation Office or something similar...

Kiron
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Mar 14, 2019 6:33 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Kiron. I agree that the new PMO, if needed, should be different than what a "traditional" PMO looks like. Personally I doubt that there will be an Agile Enterprise that won't use at all planned approach, at least at the portfolio level, therefore I believe that the PMO will always be needed, although sometimes with a different name.
Agile is maturing, embedding Lean Six Sigma practices to ensure that delivery is also efficient.
I see few challenges for the new PMO:
1) knowledge. It has to master and support all delivery frameworks
2) metrics to provide meaningful visibility on progress
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great question!...great discussion!....very topical from my point of view...on this forum we see discussions around Waterfall, Agile, Hybrid....I can advise that major Canadian Fin Serv firms are telling their IT staff that Agile is the only way forward to Digital Transformation... full stop, no discussion. And the message is coming from the most senior executives...makes it easy for us I guess....:)
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Mar 14, 2019 6:40 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Al.
The support from executives is indeed crucial for Agile and Digital Transformations but...
1) Agile should not be imposed otherwise it will fail. Maybe part of the "Agile PMO" responsibilities should be to focus on Organisational Change Management. I think that the ADKAR framework is a good strategy to implement change, including agility
2) I don't believe that the new Digital transformations are different than the original Digital Transformation when computerisation complemented, supplemented, replaced and enhanced manual processes. We should learn from the past mistakes. Organisations start realising that moving to cloud is neither cheap nor free of risks... Transition to Agile is the same: neither cheap nor risk free.
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Do we need a bathroom with agile?
It is just a piece of infrastructure and might look different depending on your culture.
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Mar 14, 2019 6:43 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Thomas.Yes we do and I see your point. I don't believe that Agile is just a piece of infrastructure. It is indeed a mindset change and it needs careful consideration. PMO can help, I don't believe in "Agile" PMO as I don't believe in "Agile" PM, BA etc, Agile is an attribute and the degree of agility should fit the purpose; like the bathroom :)
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The typical answer is no, there's no PMO in an Agile organization. In a nutshell, the argument follows this pattern: Projects are temporary endeavors undertaken to perform some sort of change (new product, service, or result). Agile organizations view change as constant, with no defined end. Therefore, there are no "projects" for anyone to manage, so there is no need for a PMO.

Having said that, there are plenty of Agile organizations that keep project managers. I've witnessed plenty of examples. In contrast to the traditional construction or aerospace PMs that we like to show in full control, an agile PM might be an assistant to a product owner or help coordinate organizational change. I like Kiron's answer here, that a PMO can exist so long as it offers value to the organization (and that should be true regardless of whether the organization is agile or not).

PMI has been working hard to adapt as more and more organizations shift to an agile culture. Frankly, there are a lot of things we still get wrong and we have a lot of catching up to do. For example, you're right that a lot of people advocate for moving PMs into scrum master positions, but this is a common mistake. The two positions are not related, and while an individual PM might be able to make the transition, it really is a type of career change away from project management.

I'm happy that project managers are making the effort to adapt to Agile, but I hope that we don't lose sight of the things we already do well because we're chasing after something else.
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Mar 14, 2019 6:54 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Wade. I don't know where in Agile it's the mandate for 'no defined end'. Incremental and iterative doesn't mean that at some point there is no end. All products and services have a lifespan. Projects are just iterations that deliver one or more increments. Real Agile should deliver multiple increments, to the users, during the project. Each Release/Version of a product can be considered a project when the end is the go live. Done correctly Agile should minimise the traditional Project Closure Phase.
Anything, including Agile, should exists as long as it adds value to the organisation.
I agree that PM and SM are complementary roles in a project and I don't understand how people can promote the replacement of PMs with SMs and then ask the SM to to exactly the same tasks as the PM, usually at a lower pay.
I agree that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater and retain the useful knowledge and experience that project management discipline has.
I am one of the few who transitioned to planned project management from Agile. I was (sort of) lucky to use Agile patterns in mid 80s. I believe that using planned approach can improve the benefits of agility, if done right, and experience needs time. It can't be acquired in the training class.
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Do you need a PMO with Lean? Do you need a PMO with Six Sigma? Do you need a PMO with any enterprise strategy approach you decide to take? The same for Agile. Is not a matter of strategy.
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Mar 14, 2019 7:04 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Sergio. Excellent question, I will use in my next webinar about the role of the PMO in the Agile Enterprise (with credits).
If Lean Six Sigma, focused on eliminating waste, didn't recommend the removal of the PMO, if the computerisation didn't eliminate the need for a PMO, why Agile won't need a PMO.
I worked in (small) software companies, implemented XP and Scrum and delivered without any formal project management framework. But..
When the company grew we had to define a strategy, we had to plan, we had to introduce governance.
In mid 80's, when I probably worked in the most Agile environment, we had to obtain funding for our research. There was no PMO, but a body that made sure that whatever we do with the money has a justification. Unlike in a commercial environment, sometimes all we proved was that an idea it's not feasible, although it looked good and smart.
I don't see the need of governance disappearing in Agile, nor the need for support. I've seen many new names for the PMO but it seems that everybody agrees that there is a need for something beyond the Scrum or Project Team.
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Stelian,

What is the role of the PMO?

In most case, you would want a PMO to cover all type of project management methods.
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Mar 14, 2019 7:09 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thsnk you Vincent.That's a good question too. Can an Agile Enterprise function and survive as a collection of Scrum Teams? Whatever the role of the PMO is, it should fulfil a need. Sometimes the need is just to produce monthly RAG reports. I believe that anyone and anything should add value and a PMO can add a lot of value. Maybe as a Servant Leader.
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When transitioning from traditional waterfall to Agile, I recommend creation of an Agile Center of Excellence (ACoE). This becomes the command post for governance, training, and Agile maturity within your organization.
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1 reply by Stelian ROMAN
Mar 14, 2019 7:19 PM
Stelian ROMAN
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Thank you Emma. The name is irrelevant. The PMO is already a center of excellence, for predictive framework. I believe that instead of discarding it it's more beneficial for the organisation to enhance it adding adaptive frameworks to their portfolio.
I strongly disagree with the term 'command post' and in some degree with the responsibility for training. Centralised training can be as bad as dogmatic Agile.
Each team should be able to and self-organise. Imposing a certain framework and a certain way to do things is not Agile.
BTW, the "traditional" waterfall was very Agile. The paper published by Royce in 1970 includes an option for a process that is very similar with some Agile frameworks. There are many Agile, or pretending to be Agile, teams, using a Requirements, Develop, Test, Implement swim-lines board, having a handover to QA (actually QC) or depicting the scrum iteration as a succession of mini-waterfalls: plan, develop, test, release.
In conclusion, I agree with a center of excellence but a center of excellence that can see beyond a team of 7.
Network:991



Mar 14, 2019 7:20 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
A traditional command and control PMO may not be needed, but if the PMO becomes the catalyst for driving increased organizational agility through practitioner support and coaching leadership roles through the mindset shift then it can still add value.

However in those companies where there will continue to be a mix of traditional and adaptive projects, the PMO might still need to provide standards, tools and templates.

There is also value in a PMO playing a delivery assurance role and that is irrespective of delivery approach.

It is possible the PMO might rebrand itself to clearly indicate the shift in its focus - for example a Delivery Transformation Office or something similar...

Kiron
Thank you Kiron. I agree that the new PMO, if needed, should be different than what a "traditional" PMO looks like. Personally I doubt that there will be an Agile Enterprise that won't use at all planned approach, at least at the portfolio level, therefore I believe that the PMO will always be needed, although sometimes with a different name.
Agile is maturing, embedding Lean Six Sigma practices to ensure that delivery is also efficient.
I see few challenges for the new PMO:
1) knowledge. It has to master and support all delivery frameworks
2) metrics to provide meaningful visibility on progress
Network:991



Mar 14, 2019 8:21 AM
Replying to Al Taylor
...
great question!...great discussion!....very topical from my point of view...on this forum we see discussions around Waterfall, Agile, Hybrid....I can advise that major Canadian Fin Serv firms are telling their IT staff that Agile is the only way forward to Digital Transformation... full stop, no discussion. And the message is coming from the most senior executives...makes it easy for us I guess....:)
Thank you Al.
The support from executives is indeed crucial for Agile and Digital Transformations but...
1) Agile should not be imposed otherwise it will fail. Maybe part of the "Agile PMO" responsibilities should be to focus on Organisational Change Management. I think that the ADKAR framework is a good strategy to implement change, including agility
2) I don't believe that the new Digital transformations are different than the original Digital Transformation when computerisation complemented, supplemented, replaced and enhanced manual processes. We should learn from the past mistakes. Organisations start realising that moving to cloud is neither cheap nor free of risks... Transition to Agile is the same: neither cheap nor risk free.
Network:991



Mar 14, 2019 9:07 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
...
Do we need a bathroom with agile?
It is just a piece of infrastructure and might look different depending on your culture.
Thank you Thomas.Yes we do and I see your point. I don't believe that Agile is just a piece of infrastructure. It is indeed a mindset change and it needs careful consideration. PMO can help, I don't believe in "Agile" PMO as I don't believe in "Agile" PM, BA etc, Agile is an attribute and the degree of agility should fit the purpose; like the bathroom :)
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