No, the project management office (PMO) isn’t dead, it’s just different since agile came along. In an organization that does not use agile approaches, a traditional PMO might do everything from prioritizing projects, assigning people or resources to projects, managing the execution of projects, and promoting project management practices. In an agile organization, the role of a Lean-Agile PMO is similar although it acts more as an enabler rather than an overlord.
The role of a Lean-Agile PMO is to deliver value to the organization via:
- Enabling the organization to decide how to best use people and resources
- Managing the who/what/when of work done by agile teams
- Promoting agile values and practices
The Lean-Agile PMO serves the organization so that:
- Backlogs and work in process align with the organization’s strategy and reflect stakeholder priorities.
- Transparency and visibility help stakeholders know where their requests are in the funnel or when approved work will be completed. Stakeholders are better served by being able to tell them, in a timely fashion, if/when requested work will be done.
- The prioritization and execution processes can be easily explained to stakeholders.
- Planning & execution is done via right-weight, context-sensitive approaches (Agile or traditional PM) that best fit the work. Plans and deliverables are adjusted based on what has been learned from doing the work. Processes exist for intake, prioritization, planning, execution, and reporting.
- Work is assigned to technology teams, people and other resources in an optimized and sustainable fashion.
- A culture of shared ownership exists across the teams that are doing work and the stakeholders they serve.
- The Lean-Agile PMO facilitates prioritization of work and routing it to teams.
- It promotes agile values and practices as well as traditional project management practices. A PMO that is staffed with both agile practitioners and traditional project managers is uniquely positioned to support the organization in using the technique that best fits the situation.
- The Lean-Agile PMO recognizes that an agile approach does not fit some types of work and adjusts the approach accordingly to get the best result. No room for purists here.
- Where agile approaches do make sense, the PMO helps teams select the agile framework (Scrum, Kanban, etc.) that best applies to the situation.