Agile PMOProject Management Office

The Scrum PMO: A Solution to Too Much Governance

Is it possible to create a scrum project management office (PMO)? Yes, kind of. Russell Whitmore believes you can inject scrum into the traditional corporate environment, but it will not be easy.

Another Layer

Scrum should be simple, at its heart. You have the product owner, the Scrum Master, and the self-organizing team. Big organizations can bungle up these efforts by way of governance and management reporting. In this case, governance refers to formal staging gates to move between project phases, whereas management reporting plainly refers to senior management wanting to know how the project aligns with the agreed plan.

Whitmore’s solution is to create a “scrum PMO,” which can consist of one person or a few people, who provides insulation between the scrum team and corporate governance. How does this insulation occur? For governance, Whitmore provides this explanation:

For Governance processes, the PMO represents the project. The overhead of preparing governance materials and attending governance boards falls entirely to the PMO. This can be substantial – including preparation of high-level project plans, scope documents, risk assessments, and whatever else is needed to feed the corporate machine. The PMO does this based on an information exchange with the Product Owner – but in a way that seeks to minimize the impact on the Product Owner.

The scrum PMO similarly prepares reports for senior management, based upon standard information collected by the scrum master. This would be information that the scrum master is already collecting anyway. And of course, like a regular PMO, the scrum PMO can handle the affairs of numerous scrum teams.

This may not be a permanent solution to the problem of tight regulation versus easy-going agile, but it seems effective enough to call it more than a stopgap. At the least, it is progress. You can read Whitemore’s original post here:

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for raising the role of the PMO, Governance and Scrum Teams. Rather than introduce another layer, I suggest the following: Adapt your Agile/Management tools to provide the data (and transparency) required by the parent PMO and/or governance boards. Agile tools (and mature project management tools and wikis) are mature enough now to ensure program and project level metrics are easily accessible in dashboard form. This applies to Scrum Teams, too. These actions will require that Scrum Teams engage the Governance groups (bringing everyone closer, increasing face-to-face communication, etc. All outcomes we want to encourage in Agile engagements.)