The Organizational Structure of an Agile PMO

The Organizational Structure of an Agile PMO

Enterprises are always running multiple complex projects simultaneously, and the field of project management is always finding ways to become more efficient. Recently, companies have begun establishing project management offices (PMOs) to ensure project management expertise and knowledge is shared throughout the organization. However, project management must also evolve and adapt as businesses change rapidly.

The adoption of an Agile methodology allows organizations to be flexible, adaptive, and open-minded in project management. Agile empowers organizations not only to respond quickly to change but also to embrace change to realize successful projects.

Today, globalization and digitization are unstoppable forces that require companies to be more efficient and versatile than ever. With hybrid work environments and the proliferation of technology in all business areas, more businesses than ever are adopting Agile principles to meet the moment. Agile PMOs are gaining popularity thanks to their increased flexibility over traditional project management techniques.

On this page, we will examine the Agile PMO organizational structure, the benefits of an Agile PMO, and how you can build one for your organization.

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What is an Agile PMO?

The PMO promotes project management standards and processes within an organization. Additionally, PMOs monitor project timelines and progress to ensure the project team meets deadlines without exceeding their budget. The exact responsibilities and control bestowed on a PMO will vary from company to company. Some simply project managers with tools and templates to ensure project consistency, while others provide a more robust centralized management role, including allocating financial and other resources to projects.

While the primary function of a PMO is to give an organization structure and guidance that helps it meet goals while using its resources to benefit all stakeholders, here are a few ways PMOs help organizations:

  • Budget management: A primary role of a PMO is to ensure that a project stays within its budget.
  • Boost productivity to meet deadlines. PMOs monitor deadlines. They establish timelines and tasks for the project team to follow to meet these deadlines. They then partner with the team to track progress toward completing the smaller goals to ensure the team meets the more significant deadlines and makes needed adjustments along the way.
  • Satisfy customers. Organizations with PMOs tend to have customers with higher levels of satisfaction. Productive teams who meet customer expectations and deadlines send the message to customers that their time is valuable.
  • Improve inter-departmental communication. PMOs can liaise between management, teams, and other departments. In doing so, they can improve communication within the organization and demonstrate effective project management strategies to boost performance.
  • Reduce errors. When planning a project, the PMO may predict, based on historical project performance, how long it will take to complete the project and identify potential barriers that can slow down progress. This forecast helps it decide how to allocate resources, create teams, and choose which strategies to implement.

An Agile PMO is a Project Management Office that uses Agile principles and practices to help organizations manage their projects more effectively. These entities provide guidance and support to project teams so they can deliver value to customers more efficiently and effectively. They also help organizations adapt to change and embrace new ways of working that enable them to be more agile and responsive to customer needs.

Successfully establishing an Agile PMO organizational structure has many benefits. For example, they can help organizations improve their project management processes to be more efficient and effective. The Agile project management office can also help organizations adopt new technologies and approaches to be more agile. And finally, the Agile PMO can help organizations build a culture of collaboration and innovation to be more successful in the long term.

How is a Traditional PMO Different from an Agile PMO?

The Agile project management office is a relatively new concept, but it is gaining popularity as more organizations adopt Agile principles and practices. The Agile PMO is different from a traditional PMO in several ways:

  • First, its focus is on delivering value to customers rather than on following processes and procedures.
  • Second, the Agile PMO is more flexible and adaptable to change than a traditional PMO.
  • Third, the Agile PMO is more collaborative, working closely with project teams to help them succeed.

A traditional PMO attempts to standardize and control project management processes across an organization, while an Agile PMO embraces and instills flexibility and adaptability among project teams. In addition, a PMO typically employs a “command and control” management style, while an Agile PMO promotes self-organization and decentralized decision-making. If your organization has a PMO, it is best to try to work with them to understand their goals and objectives. It may be possible to find a way to coexist and incorporate some aspects of Agile into the PMO’s process, making them a hybrid PMO, while still adhering to a more traditional PMO framework. However, in many cases, choosing between the two approaches may be necessary.

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How Agile PMOs Influence Organizational Structure

PMOs have many responsibilities, including:

  • Standardization of processes, policies, procedures, templates, and other documentation, along with compliance.
  • Knowledge sharing and developing best practices for project managers.
  • Training, coaching, and mentoring professionals within the PMO.
  • Serving as a project management resource for initiatives throughout the organization.
  • Managing and allocating resources across all projects.
  • Ensuring timely and transparent communication across projects.

There could be several impacts if a PMO incorporated some aspects of Agile. On one hand, it could potentially improve communication and collaboration between the PMO and project teams, as well as improve the overall efficiency of projects. However, there is potential for it to cause conflict if the two approaches are incompatible. In addition, the PMO would need to be willing to change its direction and culture to fully embrace Agile principles. The two could coexist if the goals and objectives of the PMO are well-defined and understood.

The benefits of a non-traditional PMO with agile practices in place are increased transparency, improved communication, and faster delivery times. In addition, an Agile PMO can help to create a culture of continuous improvement within an organization, which is essential for any organization undergoing a digital transformation. In doing so, they influence organizations in the following ways:

  • Faster deliverables: Businesses are results-driven organizations at every level. Following agile principles, PMO representatives can prioritize tasks that can be done quickly, enabling them to deliver value to customers sooner.
  • Enhanced flexibility: Putting the methodology and process manual into the implementation phase is where issues start to evolve, depending on the work’s complexity and the stakeholders’ maturity. The agile approach helps coaches find out about these issues at an early stage and modify their implementation accordingly.
  • Better cooperation: Bypassing the more rigid processes found in traditional PMOs allows project teams to break up deliverables into shorter increments. The benefits of increased flexibility coupled with quick results enhance cooperation at all levels.
  • Executive visibility: Agile PMOs help senior management and delivery teams gain oversight of agile initiatives in the organization. This is vital for transparency, quality assurance, and ensuring PMO initiatives align with the strategy for agile initiatives.

How to Create an Agile PMO for Your Organization

Even for an organization ready and willing to undergo an Agile PMO implementation, carrying out one is no small feat. Completing this type of organizational change project requires intensive collaboration, flexibility, and regular analysis to ensure the effort is on track and delivering the desired benefits.

Building a PMO usually takes around a year to complete, but the timeline will vary depending on your own project management experience as well as your organization’s available resources for creating a new team. Here are a few important actions to take that will help you build a successful Agile PMO:

  1. Assemble a charter document: Your charter should include the mission statement, goals, and key performance indicators of your Agile project management office. You should establish processes and describe how you will analyze them to measure success. This analysis will also enable you to improve your processes over time.
  2. Identify the necessary resources: Once your charter document is complete, you’ll need to assemble your team. Understand what roles you will need to fill to operate a successful Agile PMO and ensure your hiring reflects the requirements of each role.
  3. Create relationships: Early in the process, you should introduce the project stakeholders and your team since you will be responsible for the success of the Agile PMO implementation. Additionally, find ways to bring your team together and foster chemistry through activities outside the PMO. Socialize outside of work and conduct team-building exercises. Learn to trust your team, ask questions, give and receive feedback, and keep an eye on their momentum and progress without hindering them.
  4. Emphasize education: The further along the process gets, the more responsibility your team will have. Giving your team opportunities to learn will position them to succeed as the effort matures. Similarly, once the Agile PMO is operational, it should provide ongoing training and mentoring for all project teams.
  5. Implementation: Establish a comprehensive system of guides, tools, and templates to ensure project managers are in the best position to succeed. Templates are vital to ensuring projects are uniform and organized. However, they should be flexible enough that users can mold them to fit the unique needs of their projects.
  6. Evaluate progress and gather feedback: To be truly Agile, you have to be able to make changes quickly. Keep communication with stakeholders open, collect feedback and implement new iterations to ensure your PMO continues delivering value. For Agile PMOs automated information radiators, like reporting dashboards, provide quick and comprehensive data insights related to your projects.

Conclusion

Business environments today are dynamic, global, and constantly in flux. Agile practices are uniquely positioned to add value to modern businesses. Agile PMOs enable organizations to react more quickly to take advantage of new requirements. While uniting all project management practices across large organizations is challenging, the benefits are worth the effort. When you consider the reality of business operations today, implementing an Agile PMO to become more flexible is essential to remain competitive in the market.

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Jan 30,31,Feb 1,2 8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MA
PMP Certification Training
Mar 13,14,15,16 8:30am-6:00pm
Burlington, MA
PMP Certification Training
Jan 23-26 & 30-Feb 2 12:00pm-4:30pm
Online - Green Mean Time (GMT)


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Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO