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Enterprise Agile Planning, Project Portfolio Management

5 Ways to Become Agile: A Summary

Part 6: The Journey Worth Taking

Published By Linda Roach


As we finalize our six-part blog series on how to become agile, let’s take a look back at the previous five blogs and provide you with a brief summary of their key points. Throughout this series, we’ve discussed the five ways to become agile, addressed the primary issues and roadblocks, as well as the critical steps required to transform the PMO, all based on the whitepaper, The Agile PMO: 5 Steps to Driving Agility at Scale. Whether your organization is in the beginning stages of this transition, rounding the corner, or caught somewhere in the middle, we hope you’ve found helpful tips and guidance on the next best step.

Part 1: Driving Agile at Scale: The Agile PMO

The speed and flexibility of Agile make it an attractive working mechanism for the entire organization, and the PMO is in the ideal position to lead the way. Organizations must become more adaptive to achieve greater innovation, responsiveness, efficiency, and productivity.

The path toward agility necessitates a thoughtful strategy and patience. While the majority of organizations recognize the need for organizational agility, few have achieved it across the enterprise. One of the primary reasons for this disconnect is the fact that PMOs aren’t embracing different ways of working, such as Lean, Agile, iterative, and collaborative. This must change. All work methodologies are welcome in an agile environment.

Agile development also advocates self-governing, dedicated teams over individuals assigned to a project for faster, more customer-centric delivery.  Funding and portfolio management approaches must also change to become adaptive. While these shifts may appear daunting, Gartner advises organizations to take steps to evolve, as agility is the only way to survive the digital business era.


Part 2: Agile Transformation Requires Just Enough Governance

Traditional portfolio management was based on top-down controls. Agility, however, turns this hierarchy on its head. To foster innovation, creativity, and productivity, the enterprise must balance top-down oversight with bottom-up agility. Gartner recommends collaborative leadership to enable continuous business outcome delivery and rapid response to bottom-up feedback.

The PMO becomes the broker, prioritizing investments at a high level and becoming the liaison between business leaders and delivery teams. When the PMO shifts from a control center to a guidance center, you can provide the right amount of direction to ensure strategic alignment without stifling innovation. Collaborative leadership aligns delivery with strategy by translating that strategy into measurable goals, connecting it to the investment and outcomes, then planning and managing cross-functional programs. By providing real-time visibility into funding and capacity, the PMO creates transparency and accountability.

Part 3: Agile Transformation: The PMO’s New Paradigm

Often, the PMO has a reputation of championing standard project management methodologies. The journey toward a more agile PMO requires a shift in perspective. It’s less about the methodology and more about the desired outcome. In this agile environment, different types of work should be embraced as long as teams achieve value delivery.

Further, the agile transformation demands that focus be redirected from projects to portfolio management and continuous planning to enable agility in translating strategy into delivery in an ongoing, cross-functional basis. PMOs can create a connected set of planning processes that are flexible and agile, including strategic, capacity, financial and investment, project and work, and technology planning.

The PMO should be able to continually assess the portfolio and reallocate funding and resources to those programs that are proving to continually bring the most value. The PMO will play a key role in developing strategic roadmapping to lead organizational change, measure progress, understand impact, and make adjustments.

Part 4: Shifting from Projects to a Product-Centric Approach

As customer demands continue to evolve, the PMO must be able to adapt, helping the organization continually deliver valued products. A product-centric model for software delivery requires product managers to take responsibility for the entire product lifecycle, from ideation to sun-setting, and translate customer demand into a product vision and roadmap.

Product owners work collaboratively with product managers, program managers, and the PMO to develop a plan to maximize the value of the product resulting from the development team’s efforts. The agile PMO aligns investment and capacity with company strategy and measure outcomes based on business value. Iterative funding will promote learn-as-you-go, fail fast experimentation, as well as more frequent planning that is adaptive to change. By funding outcomes of products and programs instead of projects, organizations will be able to guide investments by horizon for faster delivery and higher value realized.

Part 5: The Journey Towards Embracing Agile: A Holistic Approach for the PMO

The road to an agile PMO cannot be completely mapped out, but is worthy of the journey. Consider these five steps to help you get started and guide your path.

  • Integrate delivery with strategic and portfolio planning
  • Enable the practice of continuous planning to embrace inevitable change
  • Adapt to a lean portfolio management approach
  • Support any type of work
  • Collect the right analytics and transition from reporting activities to generating insights into value-based KPIs

By mapping the path toward agility with learning, adaptability, and continuous improvement, your PMO can be reinvented from a cost center to a value center. The PMO becomes the seasoned expert that guides the rest of the enterprise along a similar journey toward agility. In doing so, the PMO becomes the hero, building a broad foundation that enables teams, departments, and the entire enterprise to be responsive to change, fast to market, and continually delivering value.

lean-portfolio-management-for-the-PMOFinal Thoughts

As we have seen, the road to a more agile enterprise begins with a more agile PMO. The journey may have some roadblocks and unexpected turns, but in the end, agility in this rapidly-changing world is the key to longevity. For the PMO, the opportunity to be a change management leader must not be missed.

Don’t forget to download the full whitepaper, “The Agile PMO: 5 Steps to Driving Agility at Scale,” for more information on each part of this blog series.

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Written by Linda Roach Director, Solutions Marketing

Linda Roach champions solutions marketing at Planview, partnering with customers to articulate their business challenges and to quantify the value of implementing change. Linda leads Planview's agile go-to-market team for portfolio and resource management. During her tenure, Linda has helped drive Planview's market advancement and significant growth through marketing leadership roles. Previously, Linda held positions at Pervasive Software, VTEL, and Kodak where she led go-to-market initiatives for new products and product line expansion. Linda holds a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from SUNY Buffalo.