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Manage   »   Project Management   »   Agile and the PMO

The swiftest way to achieve and share an appraisal of project status is to prepare, maintain and present status reporting information in one place. The Project Management Office (P.M.O.) is the accepted function within the IT industry with responsibility for the preparation and delivery of project status information. This is, of course, not always the case and a P.M.O. may not have been planned or estimated for your project. In this case, this responsibility may lie with the project or with your programme to perform this function. Either way, you need to identify and clarify this responsibility.

The P.M.O. is the place to manage and share data about budgets, burn rate, spending, project risks and issues, project metrics, tracking and specifically for agile projects: burndown charts. This data is collected, amassed, validated, stored, compiled, merged and shared across the project across the programme and throughout the organisation. It is also shared with the supplier organisation in supplier based projects. Naturally, this may involve multi centre sites in many locations across the country, across the world and across different time zones.

The RAID Log describes the big risks and issues on the project. The combination of the RAID Log and the Burndown chart provide the appraisal of significant project issues and status. Attendance at the Daily Forum will gain the data necessary for this. More detailed examination of the project is very often required and this can prove to be a very intensive operation. If you have a P.M.O. and can liaise with the P.M.O. to collect and collate this data, the P.M.O. is the ideal place for this activity.

When you are estimating the project at the outset and during the project, you will need to ensure you include an amount for P.M.O. responsibilities to your project estimate respectively for the whole project and for the next stage. Where an existing P.M.O. is responsible for this work and that section is not conversant with agile working, gain an estimate of their planned involvement and add an amount for the transformation of their role to support your agile project reporting demands.

Naturally, you will resolve the scope and depth of this form of communication with your customer and agree the preparation of data with your P.M.O. beforehand. You will also work with your Account Manager, if you are in a supplier arrangement, to ensure they are also kept up to date with status information from the Daily Forum. This update applies to all key stakeholders who need this data. In larger organisations, the interactivity between teams and departments and their often conflicting demands can become a huge burden for what seeks to be a swift and rapid project. We find that, where the number of key stakeholders requiring a Daily Forum update exceeds the number four or five, it is probably wiser to consider having a weekly meeting where this data is presented to the stakeholders and they are able to debate their concerns in concert with their peers.

Again, the P.M.O. can take this responsibility to setup, invite attendees, manage the event and deal with follow-up and comments. You may wish to work with your P.M.O. to help setup an Agile P.M.O. subsidiary or help to transform them into an Agile P.M.O., specializing in assisting agile projects. Maybe you could take this a little further and help the new team to follow agile principles itself. This latter option needs a little careful planning as there are benefits in operating in an agile fashion, certainly. However, oftentimes, an organisation may not have the resources to assign a single P.M.O. to every individual project or may deliver so many projects that they cannot assign a single P.M.O. to their many agile projects. The P.M.O. may continue to have waterfall projects to support also and this mix needs to be managed professionally.

More detail on burndown charts is given elsewhere in the Toolkit. For now let us look at how the agile process influences the customer.


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Agile and the PMO


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