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PMO Series, Part IV: Agile in Your PMO?

By: Peg Haustetter

Background blank business commerce

Your PMO is established with mature and proven processes allowing your Project Managers to successfully deliver a wide range of projects across the organization. You may have taken your PMO to the next level by establishing a Program Management Office or a Portfolio Management Office reaping the benefits of centralized reporting, delivery and resource allocation, just to name a few.

Chances are, your organization’s projects follow a traditional waterfall method for software delivery, and your PMO has established tollgates that must be adhered to with appropriate documentation and approvals to move projects forward from each phase. Perhaps your organization is bound by Federal or State regulations, which require additional documentation.  But, no worries, your Project Managers and  team members are well versed in documenting and passing through tollgate reviews.

Agile Delivery Method and Tollgates

With Agile delivery methods on the rise, the successful PMO will support the decision to include Agile projects in the portfolio. But how do you fit Agile projects into processes defined for waterfall delivery?  While everyone is learning what Agile is and the affect it will have on your organization (scope, time, budget, resources), the PMO may set boundaries and criteria that makes a project eligible to be assigned to an Agile team.The criteria may include factors such as internal vs. external facing, project size less than “x”, or non-regulated projects such as non-SOx.

The Project Manager will continue to be responsible for delivering the corresponding documentation needed to pass through the tollgates. For example, the PMO may decide that the product backlog is substituted for functional design specification or acceptance criteria for system or user acceptance test cases. But the Issue Log or Risk Assessments may be required in their current format. During the tollgate reviews, more time may be needed as your stakeholders learn the differences in the documentation they have always known vs. the documentation produced from an Agile project.

Agile Fully Adopted

Depending on the adopted project criteria (mentioned above), your organization may continue to deliver projects via waterfall and/or Agile methods. Over time, as your organization’s Agile experience matures, formal tollgates should give way to the PMO adopting an Agile track with the appropriate level of documentation that is produced by the team as part of the project deliverables. Reducing the Agile Project Manager’s deliverables will allow them to focus on the “people” aspect of Agile: providing training, coaching, influencing behavior and promoting continuous improvement among the team members.

Peg Haustetter


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