software development design development implement analyzeA project management office (PMO) can fulfill multiple functions related to the supervision of an organization's project portfolio, often with managerial functions and with a strategic orientation that is added to the simple control and monitoring layer.

However, it is not clear what an agile PMO is or how it is structured. It is becoming increasingly urgent to clarify this aspect, since many teams and even entire organizations, especially in the field of software and application development, rely entirely on agile methodologies such as SCRUM.

Before entering into the matter, it is necessary to clarify three different senses of what can be understood by agile PMO.

Disambiguation: What do we mean by agile?

An agile PMO can refer to several situations, such as:

1. The agile implementation of a PMO

As the start-up process is long, complex and may have difficulties in demonstrating its benefits to stakeholders with a high capacity for influence, some experts advise that the start-up approach be agile and be protected from criticism towards a structure that it is not working 100% yet. In addition, it is possible that the difference stakeholders do not agree on what should be the role of the PMO in the organization, in which case their scrutiny on the development of the implementation will necessarily be uneven.


To combat this disadvantage, a PMO whose implementation is conceived as an agile project must deliver processes and functions useful for the operation of the PMO in a continuous and early manner.

The measure of the progress of the project, as is logical, is given by the functionality of the PMO itself.

An agile implementation is usually characterized by an initial diagnostic phase, followed by phases of planning, execution and closure that can be iterated several times until the PMO has the desired maturity.

However, in the first iteration of the execution, the PMO already assumes characteristics that allow it to operate in one or more of its functions.

2. The role of a PMO whose objectives is to manage the project portfolio following agile principles

It is not essential to have adopted SCRUM throughout the organization so that we are interested in benefiting from some of the advantages of agile principles at the corporate level.

For example, the agility applied to the entire portfolio of projects allows for early decisions and rectifies the initial planning of projects when the context that justifies them is modified.

3. The role of a PMO in an organization that has exclusively adopted agile project management methodologies

What happens when an organization that worked with classical methodologies or waterfall becomes guided by SCRUM or other agile methodologies?

What is the role of the PMO in this new situation? Is the mission aborted and the office deleted, or is it given a new meaning?

The cultural and change management role of the PMO can be fully maintained. In the new context, the PMO facilitates the deployment of the agile culture in the different areas of the organization.

The predominant areas are the following:

  • Training: includes training new people in agile methodologies, preparing meetings and workshops, deepening for key embers, as well as coaching services.
  • Work monitoring: although the agile philosophy is very horizontal and does not require so much external control, a PMO can support the performance of the teams helping them to manage the backlog, offering clarity in the performance of the teams through an impartial external vision, and helping to that the documentation that works in the organization is productive and does not produce unnecessary work.
  • Interlocution with the business: One of the fundamental aspects of the manifest agile is the constant efforts to understand the need of the client and guide the work to the delivery of utility. In internal projects, it is essential that there is a well-oiled transmission chain with those who administer the corporate strategy so that they know that the engineering teams are working on the most critical aspects and that they deliver the most value to the business.

Next, we detail better what the work of an agile PMO consists of in this last case.

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The nuance is important, as our readers are well aware that managing agile projects involves ongoing guidance to customer requirements and very frequent evaluation cycles. The question is how the responsibilities of methodological guidance, centralization, control and direction of the PMO can be connected in these cyclical structures, maintaining customer orientation and business perspective.

The fundamental risk, let's face it, is to create a small bureaucratic monster that coagulates methodological demands without adding value.

Failures in the conception of a PMO

The main problem arises when, in order to achieve agile projects, an attempt has been made to establish rules of action that have merely pigeonholed and limited decision-making.

Despite falling under the range of agility, SCRUM requires the production of a lot of documentation with a very high frequency, including the requirements of user stories.

A recurring error when creating PMO in agile environments is utilizing them as centralized offices that impose internal policies and norms. Keep in mind that circumscription to certain standards at work can marry poorly with the completion of certain complex projects. There is the risk of restricting the freedom of action and the margin of manoeuvre that are fundamental to produce value in all sprints.

A PMO cannot be confused with merely a controlling body that seeks to fit agile projects into tactics, methodologies and master projects of the manager that have been preconceived without special attention to the changing nature of agile projects.

First correct interpretation of the agile PMO

In contrast to the centralized and bureaucratic PMO, the most attractive in an agile environment is the performance of a facilitation function.

This can be done by establishing recommendations to help manage the workload, distinguishing between priority and ancillary tasks, helping project managers determine how much they can rely on experts, and even set basic standards of performance and work ethics that are in line with the values and mission of the organization. So that all projects, besides providing value to the client, are oriented to the common benefit and growth and consolidation of the organization.

One difficulty of any multi-project organization is the barrier to sharing knowledge, both within the same project team and between different projects. In the first case, the difficulty is that the experience and specialization accumulated by the veterans is not limited to the tasks they perform - which would create bottlenecks; In the second, the difficult thing is that the experience in the development of a project is not forgotten with its completion, but rather to increase the experience accumulated by the organization.

An agile PMO, among other things, faces the specific knowledge challenges that hinder operational improvement in agile performance.

And one of the main goals of an agile PMO is to make all parts of the organization that take part in a project as a unit, as a team, and even as a team of teams. In this sense, it is important that whoever is going to coordinate the work of the PMO accredits the following virtues:

- Relationships. Good contact with leaders of other departments as well as people integrated into other projects.

- Trust. Openness in dealing with those who are going to influence the project is key to its success.

- Experience. Undoubtedly, having previously faced similar projects provides sufficient evidence to address future projects.

The goals of an PMO agile

Once we have analyzed some guidelines of an agile PMO , we are going to offer you the primordial purposes of these organs. Take note.

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1. Manage new project entries

It makes no sense to approve projects above the delivery capacity of development teams. The PMO can function as the housekeeper to resist the temptation to start projects too soon. You have to wait to finish projects to start others of equal size.

2. Validation of the planning rules

The probability of unexpected and unnecessary changes must be reduced to the maximum, due to the overall understanding of the program.

3. Creation of training programs

Training is fundamental so that the knowledge of the equipment is truly complementary and there are no empty areas. The detection of gaps should be the basis for proposing training to members.

4. Limit waste

Only the PMO will have aggregated information on where time and effort is wasted. It is possible that different projects have similar patterns that point to the inefficiency of the processes. Drawing attention to them is the first step to rectifying them.

5. Delivery report

Reporting to consolidate an accredited view of the status of part of a project or its overall vision will facilitate the interpretation as to whether the affairs of the organization are being carried out in the most functional way. Without going further, conclusions that can be drawn from these reports may become important in the allocation of personnel for certain tasks or working schedules.

6. Business rules related to the benefits of the project

When making a commitment on a project, it is imperative to keep in mind that there are minimum results that have to be fulfilled. This duty also facilitates the adjustment to content that is compatible with existing quality projects. A uniformity that you do not have to understand as negative, but as an orientation towards excellence.

7. Validation of a resource plan

Every project requires a realistic allocation of resources. You have to keep in mind that the amount of resources of an organization will always be insufficient to delivering all the projects that can be generated, hence it is necessary to select, analyze conscientiously and not to precipitate. The allocation must be reasonable (it is fundamental to minimize the risks) and must be based on the fact that, in a final global calculation, the investment and achievement are compensated.

In short, we hope this text has helped you understand how an agile PMO has to works.

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airport terminal, airport with control tower ,In this blog series we have already spoken about the different types of PMO following the classification of Casey and Peck in 2001, and the tracking function as a "weather station".

When the PMO acquires authority to establish action guidelines, its function can be compared with that of a control tower that establishes when a project can be placed on the runway, deploy the flight and know what the conditions will be of the environment and competition for airspace (ie equipment time and funding).

The control PMO, however, not only makes decisions to guide projects. If the “weather station” measures, the control tower defines procedures and standards. It then monitors its compliance and seeks improvements.


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While it is always important to recognize the differences that each PMO must include to fit its parent organization, these are some of the typical functions of a control project management office:

1. Establishes standards for project management

Every project must meet standards that serve as a reference and which should be adjusted as much as possible from the initiation phase. It is recommended that the standards be flexible and allow a certain adaptation to the circumstances that may be present during the project. Standards can refer to different areas, such as:

  • Information and nomenclature. PMOs often provide report templates that allow the information to be treated in a homogeneous way, facilitating their comparison and analysis between projects. It is convenient to establish what types of reports are provided, the frequency with which they are issued and the structure they present.

  • Risks. What can be presented at what time, what is the probability that they will occur and what impact they may have on the project.

  • Configuration of the project or organization. This entails the establishment of responsibilities for each of the people involved in the project, so that important milestones and decisions are taken by the responsible parties in the shortest possible time and with all relevant information.

It is good practice for standards to strike a balance between structuring and facilitating work: they must be sufficiently elaborate to capture the complexity of the organization without falling into bureaucratic excesses. It is about making things simple, for everyone to be clear about what to do, how to do it, what their responsibilities are, and who to communicate their results, their doubts or the problems that may arise.

2. See how to meet the established standards

This consultation should have two approaches:

  • External focus. Document techniques for measuring risks, quantifying the progress of a project ... See similar cases in other companies and try to apply them to your specific situation.

  • Internal focus. Make sure that all team members and staff of your company understand and know how to implement the standards you have established. On the other hand, involve them in the detection of errors and in the suggestion of improvements. Everyone should feel part of the team in which they participate and collaborate in their success. A close view, from within, provided by the workers themselves, is an irreplaceable resource.

3. It promotes the compliance and the elevation of the standards

Organizations with a culture of advanced quality will find it easier to take this step. It is also important to consider incentives for those who strive to do their work to the best of their ability, for example, by including the adoption of standards in staff reviews.

4. Participates actively in the improvement of standards

In addition to rewarding those workers who suggest ideas that allow to improve the established standards, from the own direction of the project office it is necessary to work actively in its improvement. Accumulated management data is a great starting point for improvement. It will be important to consider what programs and areas of activity may suffer most from the adoption of change, to cushion the shock through raising awareness.

Process of implementing a control PMO

As with any other change management process that affects the entire organization, the beginning can be quite difficult.

However, there are some factors that help facilitate the process:

  • An extended recognition of the shortcomings for which it was decided to create the office

  • Leadership shared between senior management, middle managers and the management of the new PMO

  • The adoption of complete but simple software such as ITM Platform, which allows organizing projects in programs and analyzing complex information in a unified way.

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If these conditions are not available, or if implementation difficulties are high, it may be advisable to start with a set of more basic functions, related to the centralization of information and the facilitation of decisions.

Being rigorous and exhaustive in the data collection allows you to gain the trust of the clients and the managers, who will later be more likely to adopt the changes proposed by the PMO, that could introduce new management systems for projects gradually.


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