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A One-Stop Solution for Addressing Emerging Challenges of Scaling Agile

Better governance and visibility through an Agile PMO

4 March 2016

Shalu Tyagi
Information Technology

. . . A passing brainwave . . .

In my journey of Agile implementation, I have seen that when organizations have begun an Agile implementation, they continue to deliver value to customers with Agile (mainly Scrum) for some time. Then they reach a stage where they make the decision that Agile has to be scaled, and they encounter the challenge of managing certain activities that were well handled in the conventional model but do not seem to be accommodated in the Agile framework.

Companies try to fit these activities within the Scrum teams model on a large scale, but they somehow fail to do so. Instead they find themselves struggling to achieve the real essence of Agile while scaling up. This article aims to address such challenges. (You may also refer my earlier article that shares my practical experience about how to combat challenges while adopting Agile: “The Cheetah Wave: Agility Trumps Speed.")

In the absence of a traditional manager role in Agile, organizations struggle to figure out the best way combat the challenge of managing and governing projects around three critical dimensions: people, procedures and methods, and tools and equipment. Given roles for ScrumMasters, development teams, and product owners, former project managers can be found questioning their roles.

From here emerges the need for a group that comprises people who are not actively involved as the Agile team members. This group can be called the Agile Project Management Office (PMO), which focuses on the following to help teams reap the true benefits of Agile adoption.

The Project Management Office plays a vital role in enabling the transition from a conventional to an Agile framework. People can be so rigid about old methods that there is often retrenchment initially. However, this can be very well addressed by the PMO. Let’s see how a PMO can help deliver business value across multiple projects, programs, and portfolios in an Agile environment.

What is the structure of a PMO in scaled Agile? There are multiple Scrum teams working together, governed by the Scrum of Scrums, and above them all is a PMO. Here are some areas where the PMO can help:

Competency development. Developing the competency of individuals in Agile methods and practices is absolutely essential during the implementation stage. The PMO can be of utmost importance, dealing with activities ranging from drafting a standardized plan around required trainings to orientation to coaching throughout a successful execution to assessing effectiveness over the course of time.

Keeping in regular touch with the industry. Apart from emphasizing competency and skill development in Agile through internal programs, it is absolutely imperative for a PMO to have programs in place so that coaches and trainers are in regular touch with the industry. This support can include attending Agile user group activities as well as attending seminars and conferences to share best practices.

Contractual obligations and compliance needs. Many organizations are bound to comply with contract and compliance needs (such as the International Standard on Assurance Engagement 3402 and other standards). Here the PMO helps align Agile processes to cater these needs.

Documentation, reporting, and metrics dashboards. The typical, conventional means of governance generally do not fit into the Agile framework in terms of reporting changes to real-time artifacts (such as burn-down charts, backlogs, big visible information radiators, metrics based on velocity, etc.). Here the PMO helps Scrum teams focus on business outcomes during Agile transitions.

You may also refer my article covering certain areas that are less talked about in Agile: “Roads Less Traveled on the Agile Journey.”

Apart from all of this, the PMO supports Agile transformations through resource management; scope/schedule/cost/quality management; KPIs; business realizations; organization change management; opportunity analysis; strategic planning; devising pricing models; and aligning business goals with the initiatives at the project, program, portfolio, and enterprise levels.

So why not form an Agile PMO before switching to an Agile transitioning program?

. . . A passing brainwave.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 4.5 (15 ratings)


Anonymous, 12/15/2017 10:16:40 AM
Another good aspect has been highlighted by you. The PMO team indeed a good idea to keep up the momentum of the agile roles. I was just wondering if these roles can be revolved around and the person should have a chance to chose on which roles he/she fits well! It might help in cross skill also (just a wild thought). Cheers for giving us another enriching article Ms. Shalu. Keep sharing.
Shalu Tyagi, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 12/15/2017 11:28:59 AM
Thanks for enlightening this valuable idea, which makes lot of sense and is definitely a learning for next write ups.

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