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17 Apr 2016

Agile PMO – my experience of setting them up

by Melanie Franklin

Those who know me have heard me praise the Agile Project Management (AgilePM) course from DSDM before. Last week it proved its worth again as I used AgilePM as the basis for creating an Agile PMO (Project Management Office).


The essential difference between running a PMO for projects using PRINCE2(R), PMI (Project Management Institute) or APM (Association for Project Management) and Agile PM is the reduction and even removal of documented progress reporting.

If you are in the project team you know that face to face communication including the Daily Stand Up, the Team Board, the Burn Down Charts and the fluttering Post It Notes on the wall keep everyone in the loop really easily.

However, a distant PMO loses its source of information as soon as regular Highlight Reports are no longer written.


Using the AgilePM lifecycle I have been working with several companies to replace these reports with a structured conversation designed to be had at key points in the lifecycle between the PMO and the Project Manager. The conversations are structured not to limit the exchange of information but to ensure whatever project is being discussed, a minimum set of questions is always asked.

Team Productivity

As an agile approach means delivering on time, we need to include questions about team harmony and team performance:

  • Are all the team giving the time agreed to the project?
  • Are there any skills imbalances?
  • Is the team self-organising and self-supporting

Business Involvement

This emphasis on delivering on time means questions should be asked about the level of commitment to the dates by the business impacted by the project:

  • Does the business understand its role in the project?
  • Have the dates for the incremental deliveries been accepted by the business?
  • Have their actions needed to achieve these dates (participating in feedback sessions, reviews and sign-offs) been resourced?
  • Does the business have a clear understanding of what is coming up next and when?
  • Are we building the right features for the right time?

Removing conflict

As the role of an agile PM is to remove all potential barriers to achievement, it helps if the PMO prompts the PM to look for conflict before it arises:

  • Have you found any interdependencies with other projects or initiatives?
  • Have you found any duplication between work in this project and other initiatives?
  • Have there been any unexpected consequences so far?
  • Is there any conflict in the scope of what is to be achieved and the priorities within the business expected to adopt the project deliverables?

Next Steps

So if you are involved in a PMO or you are a Project Manager looking for new ideas for assuring your projects, get up to speed with AgilePM

Melanie Franklin
17th April 2016