Pmo in an agile world


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In this study, Forrester worked in partnership with the Project
Management Institute (PMI) to survey about 700
project management professionals to gather
& summarize their views on Agile Project Management Offices

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Pmo in an agile world

  1. 1. August 3, 2011The PMO In An Agile World:Can’t We All Just Get Along?by Margo Visitacionfor Application Development & Delivery Professionals Making Leaders Successful Every Day
  2. 2. For Application Development & Delivery Professionals August 3, 2011 The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? by Margo Visitacion with Mary Gerush and Adam KnollEX ECU TI V E S U M MARYMuch has been written about the benefits of Agile development, and it has been proven that Agiledevelopment teams consistently deliver higher-quality applications faster than those that followtraditional practices. However, one role has been conspicuously absent in these discussions: the roleof the project management office (PMO). Development teams often see PMOs as bureaucratic teamsthat create barriers as opposed to providing support. But PMOs play an important role managingexpectations for a broader audience. PMOs and application development professionals need to establishcloser ties, and in order to do so, they need to rethink communication strategies and build stronger trust.TABL E O F CO NTE N TS N OTES & RE S OU RCE S 2 Developers, Project Managers, And The PMO — Forrester worked in partnership with the Project Disconnected And Discontented Management Institute (PMI) to survey 693 The Problems Are Quite Clear project management professionals to gather information used in this report. 2 Forrester Identifies The Problems And How To Fix Them Related Research Documents Problem No. 1: PMOs Focus Too Narrowly — “The State Of The PMO In 2011” And Too Traditionally August 3, 2011 The Fix: Broaden Your PMO’s Horizons “Are You Ready To Transform Your PMO?” Problem No. 2: Lack Of Trust April 8, 2011 The Fix: PMOs Have To Take The First Step To “It’s Time To Take Agile To The Next Level” Build Trust March 25, 2011 Problem No. 3: PMOs Are Too Busy To Be Strategic The Fix: Get Out Of The Weeds And Build Bench Strength WHAT IT MEANS 8 The PMO And Agile Teams Can Get Along — But Both Sides Have To Give 9 Supplemental Material © 2011 Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Forrester, Forrester Wave, RoleView, Technographics, TechRankings, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Reproduction or sharing of this content in any form without prior written permission is strictly prohibited. To purchase reprints of this document, please email clientsupport@ For additional reproduction and usage information, see Forrester’s Citation Policy located at Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change.
  3. 3. 2 The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? For Application Development & Delivery Professionals DEVELOPERS, PROJECT MANAGERS, AND THE PMO  DISCONNECTED AND DISCONTENTED The development team, project managers, and the PMO share the goals of delivering projects and applications, but their methods often seem at cross-purposes. Developers want as little process as possible, while PMOs appear to thrive on it. Developers consider PMOs to be bureaucratic impediments to their creativity, while PMOs see developers as undisciplined. Project managers, attempting to satisfy both the development team and the PMO, get caught in the crosshairs. Being at opposite ends of the spectrum creates conflict, and teams are doing little to remove the contention. All teams deliver value in the right context, and neither institution is going to go away anytime soon, which begs the question: “How do we all get along?” The Problems Are Quite Clear While developers, project managers, and the PMO have common goals, their methods and audiences differ. We see that: · Developers seek to meet the needs of their project stakeholders and customers. Developers see the day-to-day ebb and flow of a project and have intimate knowledge of status changes. They’re aware of how scope or technical changes may affect delivery dates, and they know how to work through them. · PMOs must satisfy multiple sets of stakeholders. Executives and multiple project stakeholders look to the PMO for information. While some PMOs have hands-on project managers, many are not involved in daily project management but need to be able to compare and report progress on multiple projects. They look to standards in reporting to provide confidence in their project portfolio’s status. · Project managers get stuck in the middle. They must manage dates, progress, and expectations. Good project managers seek to remove the barriers that affect their teams, but if they are dealing with unrealistic expectations, they find this impossible to manage. The customers and sponsors want what they want when they want it, and organizations incent project managers to meet their needs, regardless of the politics above or the chaos below. FORRESTER IDENTIFIES THE PROBLEMS AND HOW TO FIX THEM Collaboration between PMOs, developers, and project managers can improve the current state, but organizations need to understand the core problems before they can outline how to fix them. Forrester and the Project Management Institute (PMI) recently hosted a survey on the state of the PMO. Its findings indicate that if organizations address a few of today’s PMOs’ key challenges, they can build a more collaborative and productive delivery organization.1 August 3, 2011 © 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
  4. 4. The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? 3 For Application Development & Delivery ProfessionalsProblem No. 1: PMOs Focus Too Narrowly — And Too TraditionallyAccording to the survey, PMOs support a limited set of methodologies. Not surprisingly, traditionalproject management outweighs other practices, which highlights a disquieting disconnect betweenwhat application development professionals need to be successful and what PMO leaders strive todeliver (see Figure 1). Today’s PMOs: · Continue to favor the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). Seventy-six percent of survey respondents whose PMO focuses on methodology development indicated that their PMO supports the PMBOK as a primary methodology. While the PMBOK is a framework of practices adaptable to a variety of situations and needs, its use most frequently indicates traditional planning practices, especially in immature PMOs.2 · Question or don’t fully understand Agile practices. Only one-third of respondents currently support Agile, Scrum, or Lean practices. If the PMO fails to support these modern practices, though project managers may manage to the critical path, they may fail to control scope through continuous evaluation of what needs to be in scope for the team to deliver a successful outcome.Figure 1 Today’s PMOs Fail To Adequately Support Modern Methods “What is the focus of your PMO?” (“Methodology development”) PMBOK 76% Waterfall 40% Scrum/Agile/Lean 33% Base: 482 PMO professionals who have a PMO with a focus on methodology development (multiple responses accepted)Source: Forrester/PMI April 2011 Global Project Management Office Online Survey58511 Source: Forrester Research, Inc.The Fix: Broaden Your PMO’s HorizonsToday, PMOs must look beyond traditional and critical-path-based practices to recognize andincorporate changes to development practices. PMOs must look at more than just project planning;they must also integrate development and test activities to manage the continual change inherent inAgile and Lean practices. The PMO should:© 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited August 3, 2011
  5. 5. 4 The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? For Application Development & Delivery Professionals · Update industry practices. There’s no reason to be behind the times. In 2011, the PMI will introduce an Agile project management professional (PMP) certification.3 To work toward updating the PMBOK, it has also formed an Agile council to examine how Agile best practices align with the PMBOK framework. The updated framework will provide management and reporting methods that support more-iterative development practices while still providing information the PMO needs to manage consistent, standard practices. · Solicit development input. Both the PMO and development teams want to succeed. Development organizations may balk at what they perceive as needless administrative overhead, but there are ways to create information that meets both sides’ needs. Organizations should consider adopting application development management tools or Agile project management tools to enable developers to work in their familiar environment while still delivering necessary data for PMO status reporting. Problem No. 2: Lack Of Trust According to the survey, the biggest challenges PMOs cite in working with project managers relate to trust and honesty (see Figure 2). Based on survey responses: · Fifty-eight percent of respondents think they don’t get realistic information from their PMs. Project managers (PMs) don’t want to deliver a negative status report. So when they lack the authority to control scope or get appropriate support from project stakeholders, they often sugar-coat project status so the reports don’t show the project’s real situation. · Forty-eight percent of respondents cite PMs who struggle to manage realistic delivery cycles. Poor communication strategies and the inability to manage sponsor expectations contribute to unrealistic delivery cycles. Project managers may not feel like they can say no, or they may lack mature estimation practices that would help them build a realistic release plan. · Forty percent of respondents report that PMs don’t leverage PMO advisory support. A key PMO responsibility is providing support to project managers to help them rescue troubled projects. Unfortunately, if project managers don’t report status honestly or reach out to the PMO, there is little the PMO can do to support them. Conversely, if the PMO doesn’t extend itself to offer help to PMs, it is viewed as an administrative function that brings no real support or value. August 3, 2011 © 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
  6. 6. The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? 5 For Application Development & Delivery ProfessionalsFigure 2 PMOs And Project Managers Must Learn To Trust Each Other “What are the challenges faced by your PMO when working with project managers?” (PMO located in the IT/IS group) Getting realistic status information 58% from project managers Managing through realistic delivery cycles 48% Providing adequate advisory support for troubled 40% projects Communicating the strategic intent and expected 38% benefits of projects Providing adequate tooling support for project 35% teams Other 12% Base: 217 PMO professionals who have their PMO located in the IT/IS group (multiple responses accepted)Source: Forrester/PMI April 2011 Global Project Management Office Online Survey58511 Source: Forrester Research, Inc.The Fix: PMOs Have To Take The First Step To Build TrustTo fix the trust issue, the PMO must set the tone and try to bring project managers into the fold.PMOs must hold themselves up as a support center and a center of excellence that helps — notcensures — project managers. To solve the trust issues that abound today, PMOs must: · Create a safe environment for project managers. PMO team members see project status reports, and they know which projects are in trouble. When they see projects go from green to yellow, PMO methodology managers or internal consultants can — and should — find out why a project is behind schedule or over budget. They can offer support and provide project checkpoints to help navigate rough project waters. Often valid reasons diffuse concerns, but if there are real problems, the PMO should support project managers and help them reset sponsor expectations. · Access project management expertise via communities of practice (CoPs). CoPs are not only a way to share best practices; PMOs can also leverage them to fix problems with current practices.4 When that happens, everybody wins. Project managers feel like they have a stake in the game, and they are more likely to contribute because they realize the benefits. PMOs can use the exercise to build more-pragmatic, more-useful best practices and processes. · Get executive support for transparency. Building trust is a two-way street; PMOs can bring collaboration and safe environments to the table, but project managers also have to sign on© 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited August 3, 2011
  7. 7. 6 The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? For Application Development & Delivery Professionals and agree to honest reporting. Executives must provide top-down support for transparency. Executives cannot panic and point fingers when they see yellow or red traffic signals on their dashboards. Instead, everyone involved should look for the information behind the indicators. That is where the true value lies. Problem No. 3: PMOs Are Too Busy To Be Strategic PMOs work best when they provide strategic support, offering advisory assistance, education, and training and working to keep constraints to a minimum. Unfortunately, most PMOs don’t have this luxury (see Figure 3). The average PMO size is about seven full-time employees (FTEs), and managing projects takes critical time away from more-strategic activities, such as supporting project teams and building support systems for project managers.5 Our survey shows that most PMOs don’t focus where they should: · Seventy-five percent of surveyed PMOs do hands-on project management. This, combined with a strong emphasis on traditional practices, indicates that today’s PMOs are out of step with the teams they are supporting. According to the Forrester/Dr. Dobb’s Global Developer Technographics® Survey, Q3 2009, 35% of organizations are leveraging Agile development and another 21% are using iterative processes, but many PMOs don’t support those methodologies.6 Even though about 70% of the PMOs in our survey focus on methodology development, if their staff members are fighting fires in day-to-day project management, they probably lack the vision and time needed to strategically augment the methodologies they support. · Fewer than half of the PMOs in our survey focus on practices that increase competency. Splitting focus between tactical and strategic processes means that neither side is getting sufficient attention. Today, PMOs are focusing on getting the job done, not committing resources to extend current frameworks and training that can help teams work together more effectively. · Resource management practices vary. If PMOs don’t have insight into demand or have a hand in how resources are allocated to projects, they cannot prevent key resources from being pulled off of projects. In addition, if PMOs don’t have insight into actual effort versus estimated effort, trust between PMOs and project managers becomes more difficult to build and sustain. · Only half of surveyed PMOs think they are the conduit for project-related information. PMOs can’t improve the situation without sufficient communication about and visibility into current status. Without sufficient communication, teams cannot build the trust needed to collaborate and build the appropriate practices to support both Agile and traditional practices. August 3, 2011 © 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
  8. 8. The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? 7 For Application Development & Delivery ProfessionalsFigure 3 PMOs Don’t Focus Enough On Strategic Practices “What is the focus of your PMO?” (PMO located in the IT/IS group) Project management 75% Project governance 75% Methodology development 72% Reporting 68% Portfolio management 60% Program management 58% Project management information resource for organization 56% Project management maturity 43% Practitioner competency development 40% Training 39% Resource forecasting 38% Resource allocation 31% Service management 13% Placing greater emphasis on strategic support removes Maintenance management 9% barriers and creates trust. Other 7% Base: 217 PMO professionals who have their PMO located in the IT/IS group (multiple responses accepted)Source: Forrester/PMI April 2011 Global Project Management Office Online Survey58511 Source: Forrester Research, Inc.The Fix: Get Out Of The Weeds And Build Bench StrengthPMOs must shift their focus from tactical execution practices to a strategic level that emphasizesoutlining what project teams do and developing practices to support them. PMO team membersperforming hands-on project management is not a bad thing, because it provides them with a viewthrough the eyes of the project managers they support. It can be harmful, however, if the PMO lackssufficient staff to manage projects, support project governance, and improve practices. PMOs should:© 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited August 3, 2011
  9. 9. 8 The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? For Application Development & Delivery Professionals · Shift focus to building proficient skills. PMOs must place greater attention on practices that build project management ability. They must integrate the practices development teams use into the governance practices necessary for successful project delivery. This may mean less hands-on project management — especially if the PMO runs lean. · Step back and let development leaders do what they need to do. If you have a small PMO and you are responsible for managing projects in addition to traditional PMO activities, something has to give — especially when development projects depend on lean project management. Talk to development leads to set common ground for communicating status and to determine the necessary measures to communicate resource needs. Then step back and take your hands off. · Change communication techniques. PMOs should take a page out of the Lean playbook and use different ways of communicating information that everyone can live with. Kanban dashboards can work at both a portfolio and a project level because they emphasize the flow of projects, providing clear, concise information about what’s coming, what’s in progress, and what is being deployed.7 W H AT I T M E A N S THE PMO AND AGILE TEAMS CAN GET ALONG  BUT BOTH SIDES HAVE TO GIVE Agile teams and PMOs may appear to be moving at different speeds, but they can work together effectively if both sides look at the bigger picture. Agile is here to stay. PMOs are learning that they need to adapt to remain relevant, and Agile teams are learning that they need to see the bigger picture. PMOs, project managers, and developers can change the playing field by: · Learning new communication strategies. Both sides must adapt to different methods. PMOs and project managers need to establish strategies that foster trust and open communication. This means that PMOs need to take a step back to consider the content behind statuses and garner executive support to require transparency in reporting. · Recognizing that they can’t be jacks of all trades — specialization is important. PMOs mired in the muck of project management cannot provide sufficient governance and training support, and PMOs cannot handle hands-on project management without sufficient staffing. In today’s world, not every project is — or should be — managed by formal project managers. Building tools to support nontraditional project managers helps reduce the crunch. · Using the best-practice information out there. Industry best practices are changing to adapt to broader delivery practices. PMOs must stay up to date in order to fold in practices that support all types of development and delivery practices. August 3, 2011 © 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited
  10. 10. The PMO In An Agile World: Can’t We All Just Get Along? 9 For Application Development & Delivery ProfessionalsSUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALMethodologyForrester conducted its Forrester/PMI April 2011 Global Project Management Office Online Surveyas a web survey hosted by the Project Management Institute; PMI released the survey to the PMIProgram Management Office Community of Practice, and 693 PMO leaders responded. The leadersanswered questions about their organizations, methods, and challenges. The survey was fielded fromApril 2011 to May 2011. Respondent incentives included a summary of the survey results.Exact sample sizes are provided in this report on a question-by-question basis. Panels are notguaranteed to be representative of the population. Unless otherwise noted, statistical data isintended to be used for descriptive and not inferential purposes.ENDNOTES1 Forrester Research and the Project Management Institute (PMI) recently hosted a survey regarding the state of the project management office (PMO) in 2011. The survey garnered 693 respondents, and the results show that today’s PMOs are tasked with significant challenges but also possess great opportunities to become a strategic part of a business’ delivery process. See the August 3, 2011, “The State Of The PMO In 2011” report.2 PMBOK and Agile practices actually align quite well, and using both together can help organizations build a flexible process that has the necessary controls to manage stakeholder expectations. See the January 22, 2009, “The PMBOK And Agile: Friends Or Foes?” report.3 The PMI plans to introduce the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification in the third quarter of 2011. Source: Project Management Institute ( Transformational PMOs often deploy CoPs to use their expertise and leverage peer collaboration to solve specific project management problems. See the April 8, 2011, “Are You Ready To Transform Your PMO?” report.5 PM Solutions’ latest survey about PMOs shows that the average staffing size of PMOs is seven FTEs. Source: “The State of the PMO 2010: A PM Solutions Research Report,” Project Management Solutions (http://www. Agile development is rapidly becoming a significant force in development methodology. See the January 20, 2010, “Agile Development: Mainstream Adoption Has Changed Agility” report.7 Kanban provides organizations with ways of optimizing how projects progress through various phases from inception to deployment. See the March 25, 2011, “Why Kanban Matters” report.© 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. Reproduction Prohibited August 3, 2011
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