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

Part 5: Planning Your Journey to Become an Agile PMO

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The past four blogs in our series are based on the whitepaper, The Agile PMO: 5 Steps to Driving Agility at Scale and have centered around how the PMO can guide the enterprise towards greater agility. It requires the PMO to reinvent itself from a central command organization to one that enables and empowers with “just enough” governance and an eye on a more product-centric approach. It requires that the PMO start embracing agile. The underlying element in all of this transformation is change.

Change is often a scary concept because there is so much that is unknown and, well, we like the comfort of the status quo. But change doesn’t have to happen overnight. In fact, some of the best change is incremental. In Part 5 of this blog series, we discuss the journey toward change in order for the agile PMO to drive greater value faster.

If you missed any of the previous installments of this series, be sure to check out the list below:

Part 5: Planning Your Journey

Every destination involves a journey. Becoming a more agile PMO is the destination, but how do you get there? The first step in the journey is to define the “why.” Why is there a need for change? What are the key outcomes and impact you want to make? How do you set the direction and pace for change?

A common misconception with change is that if you agree to it, then you must change everything. It’s an all or nothing kind of thing—the baby with the bath water, right? Not so with the shift towards a more agile PMO. In fact, agility means flexibility, giving the PMO the ability to work with stakeholders to determine which parts of the process and practice need to change and which are fine as they are. For example, some elements of governance may still apply, but are adapted to various ways of working, like collaborative, iterative, Lean, and Agile.

A truly agile organization means adapting as you learn to optimize processes and practices.

The PMO’s greatest value in this brave new world is to empower teams to innovate and deliver their own value that is aligned with achieving corporate strategy. To fulfill this mission, the PMO leader should address five areas to facilitate necessary change along the journey toward agility.

Every Journey Is a Collection of Steps

Step 1

The first step in the journey toward agility is to integrate delivery with strategic and portfolio planning. The overall strategy is a top-down initiative brought to life through portfolio investment funding. By communicating enterprise-level objectives to the individual teams and then giving those teams autonomy to problem solve and deliver, the PMO is fostering a culture of creativity, innovation, transparency and trust.

Step 2

Step 2 is enabling the practice of continuous planning. The planning cycle must recognize what’s discovered through learning as well as the constant changes in resources, the market and competitive landscape, and be able to adapt without interruption. Instead of annual planning that is incapable of anticipated future change, take a step toward quarterly planning to eventually embrace continuous planning. This becomes essential as the organization moves from projects to a product-centric approach. Instead of executing discrete projects, persistent teams deliver outcomes defined by a product roadmap. With the overall strategy driving all work delivery, continuous planning of project, products, and programs allows for a more agile demand management and capacity planning to account for change. Change is no longer the enemy, it is the spark that ignites innovation.

Steps 3 and 4

Step 3 and 4 in the journey toward embracing agile is to adapt the portfolio management approach and support any type of work. Every organization is different, just like how each delivery team works and delivers value. The goal is to transform the business from rigid to adaptable. When teams are given the freedom to find the method and process that is most efficient and productive for them, they will deliver value faster. Adding this flexibility doesn’t mean the PMO has no say in the matter. Executives are counting on the PMO to connect the work of the teams to the portfolio to mitigate dependencies, assess progress toward objectives, and ensure adherence to regulatory and compliance practices.

Step 5

Lastly, the final step toward a more agile PMO is to collect the right analytics and transition from reporting on activities to generating insights into value-based performance indicators. Transparency is key during any change, so track, measure, and report often on the KPIs that matter to stakeholders, those that properly illustrate the value being delivered. No matter what that value is, large or small, one-time or ongoing, it needs to be quantified and communicated. When teams and executives are equipped with progress and performance data, they can make more informed decisions that are based on real data rather than gut feeling. The next-best step, therefore, can be taken with the confidence of embracing uncertainty through failing fast and course correcting quickly. Adapting to change is less scary because managing change becomes the norm.

Planview-Blog-Agile-PMOSmall Steps Are Better than No Steps at All

The shift towards agility may seem more like one giant leap than one simple step. Of course, jumping from Point A to Point Z is daunting. Thankfully, the steps in between are worth taking to get there—by mapping the path with learning, adaptability, and continuous improvement. Instead of delaying the transformation out of fear of change, remember that every step you take brings you one step closer toward your goal of agility. You won’t get anywhere standing still.

By setting your destination and finding your path, you can reinvent your PMO from a cost center to a value center, using best practices to guide the rest of the organization into transforming itself into a more agile enterprise—one that is nimble to change, fast to market, and continually delivering value. The good news is you don’t have to take a single step on your own. From your first step to achieving cross-organizational agility, Planview can walk you through your journey. Planview has been a global leader in portfolio and resource management for decades, partnering with organizations to mature their processes to maximize their agility. It can be done. We can help.

Follow us as we finalize this six-part blog series with a summary that pulls together key takeaways from each blog. In the meantime, be sure to download the full whitepaper The Agile PMO: 5 Steps to Driving Agility at Scale for in-depth analysis.

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Linda Roach
Written By

Linda Roach brings 19 years of experience in product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing to her role as Solutions Marketing Manager for Planview. Upon joining the company in 2004, Linda led the launch of Planview Enterprise, repositioning the company from a single product to a highly successful multiple product line. Prior to joining Planview, Linda held management positions at Pervasive Software, VTEL Corporation, and Kodak where she led go-to-market initiatives covering new products, product line expansion, and opening new market segments. Linda holds a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She has participated in Executive Education programs at the University of Michigan, Wharton School, and University of Texas at Austin.