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The Three Levels of Agility in the PMO Mandate

The efforts to marry the PMO with agility continue, not just for the sake of PMO survival, but for the good of business as a whole. However, agility means different things at different times. In a post for the PM Perspectives Blog, Lindsay Scott shares insights from Jesse Fewell on three separate levels of agility that must be addressed in the PMO:

  • Personal agility
  • Project/product agility
  • Organizational agility

Slices of Efficiency

Agility has to begin with individuals. That means the PMO must commit to development and training opportunities that prepare teams for agile work. Or if it is clear new skills will be needed for an upcoming project in the portfolio, the PMO should start working now to address that need. With employee development, it is recommended to think about PMI’s talent triangle: strategic and business management, technical knowledge, and leadership competency.

The next level is project or product agility. There are of course many ways to approach this area in the PMO, meaning almost any suggestion is going to be met with apprehension by some. For instance, Fewell shares “mini-waterfall” and swarming as options. Mini-waterfall essentially breaks projects into recurring instances of requirements-design-build-test, and swarming works on a similar principle. Is that agile enough? Maybe, maybe not. Ultimately, the recommendation conveyed by Scott is that “the thinking should be about how much Agile depending on the benefits you expect to gain from choosing that approach and how much you’re prepared to put into it to gain those benefits.”

Lastly, the PMO must consider how to scale agility. Traditionally, the PMO is known for structure and standardization, so the business knows to expect these elements from it. However, the PMO must also be known now for cultivating the agile mindset (whether or not you choose to use agile’s traditional terminology).

Scott shares a few different templates for how to achieve this. One of them is the “agile competency pyramid,” consisting of exposure at the base, experience in the middle, and expertise at the peak. Or in other words: You build agile awareness, then undergo some pilot projects, and then designate “internal change agents to sustain an Agile competency.”

For visual examples and additional diagrams depicting all of these ideas, you can view the original post here: http://www.esi-intl.co.uk/blogs/pmoperspectives/index.php/the-three-levels-of-agility-in-the-pmo-mandate/

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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