Why are PMOs scrutinized in the Age of Agile?

Excerpt from From PMO to VMO: Managing for Value Delivery

As organizations become more adaptable and responsive, they are starting to adopt more of a product mindset, which calls into question the need for projects at all. Projects are, after all, an internal construct. Our customers do not care about our projects, our budgets, or even our controls. What they care most about are solutions to their problems through the timely delivery of value, as represented by product features and fixes or service innovations.

Because of this fundamental difference in focus, and because PMOs are not associated with newer models of business agility, they are coming under increasing scrutiny and are being pressured to justify their existence in the new age of Agile.

Consider that:

  • Project management as a role and as a function is being attacked for being slow, bureaucratic, costly, and, at times, ineffective. Project management is also unfortunately quite closely linked to waterfall execution models.
  • Agile ways of working are quickly leaving the old waterfall execution paradigm behind, making the tools and techniques of most project managers (PMs) and PMOs more and more irrelevant.
  • New roles such as Product Owners, Scrum Masters, and Release Train Engineers are starting to chip away at some of the traditional duties of the PM.
  • DevOps and automation tools are starting to provide extreme levels of visibility into progress and quality, lessening the need for traditional forms of reporting.
  • The relentless pursuit of cost cutting, profit, and growth makes any function that does not directly add value a potential target for downsizing.

The result of these and other forces is that the traditional PMO and the PMs within it are increasingly under attack, even in the public sector or large and highly regulated private-sector firms. The classical PMO, too closely wedded to management models popular in the 1950s and to waterfall execution in the current age, needs to embrace transformation to stay relevant or to even exist in an agile organization.

Read more about the evolution of the PMO in From PMO to VMO: Managing for Value Delivery.

Questions?