April 10, 2018

PMO as change agent!

Category: Agile, Management, PMO, Program Management, Project Management — David @ 5:44 pm

Agile PMO as Change Agent

I wonder what the challenges of PMO and (Agile) change management are! Some of our experienced PMO leaders think that one failure of (Agile) change management is to couple scrum master and project managers responsibilities into one role! Most of practitioners confess this as a major challenge of Agile transformation in organizations. A project manager is usually responsible for all aspects of the project; planning, scope, schedules, staffing, budget, etc. At the extreme end some project managers are even responsible for Profit and Loss (P&L)! Scrum master is a tactical (coaching) role to increase value creation of the team while training them to become a unit that creates value streams. Scrum master is a servant leader who leads by example. On the other hand, a product owner become the product’s visionary (for goal setting), with some responsibilities of a product manager.

With almost the same catch-all, the responsibilities of a program manager (in some instances) are blurred! In most enterprises project managers climb the ladder of their career, being promoted within their department. They are then asked to handle other aspects of their function, and hence are called program managers!

Agile on the other hand is the mindset, it is a way of doing things, it is not a process or set rules to do things. Agile is not bound to a given process or set of activities, rather it is a way of life! We learn if and when we do something; learn from our failure and use the lessons-learned on our next approach, and this has been how human grows old.

The PMO on the other hand has to decide and propagate the direction of programs. Some (of our) practice indicates that in certain organizations senior (and executive) mangers have high level view of how events go through their organization, while each of sub-mangers know how to handle their responsibilities in their area. Then they (the sub-managers) too, do not know how (exactly) matters move through the company! Hence the PMO shall come up with the philosophy, tools and directions to direct PMs to execute their assignments using ways that they succeed. Dysfunctions apart, the role of a PM is to be “in charge” of the (success of) project; planning, staffing, budgeting, tasks, etc. The scope of “in charge” in many cases does not include P&L, or the business success (or leadership). PMO, even though a bit clouded, is the overall owner of successful processes, tools, metrics, guidance, and practices of projects in different area and expertise. These obligations enforces PMO members to utilize any framework that leads to success. Consequently PMO members in general define how PMO (at least in a given organization) is reputed. From enterprise level - with many concurrent projects of various technical and business nature, PMO members define and lead organizational value creation processes, thus we shall incorporate re-usability and scalability of “lean Agile mindset” and promote it as a cultural change towards triumph.

Upward and Forward,
David Bakhtnia

September 5, 2017

PMO, Personality Types, Strategic/Tactical Agile; an Active Dialogue

Silicon Valley is the hub of innovative technologies and ideas to push boundaries. From novel technological advancement to collaborative production, San Francisco Bay Area incubates the forward-pushing human desires time-and-again!

I attend many professional gatherings and meet ups to meet and learn from experienced technical professionals whenever I have a chance. One of these small but highly thought-provoking is the PMO meetings of PMI-Silicon Valley chapter. Below are just a few points of interest among attendees of past couple of months:

- Based on Enneagram institute, considering nine (9) basic personality type people do not change from one basic personality type to another, even though not every description of the basic type applies to a person all the time. However, people do not accept or reject a behavioral model in its totality. Personality Types

- Agile way of accomplishing tasks is both strategic and tactical. From the planning of a software development lifecycle (strategic) to the alignment of cross functional team interacting to accomplish a set of tasks (tactical), Agile thinking and doing elevates both policies as well as methods. Applying Agile principles in our fast growing organizations is a testament of using the Agile models in both strategic planning as well tactical operations.

- Business Analysts analyze needs and define requirements (based on business needs). This set of activities help functional managers to align their (portfolio) needs. Project managers and scrum masters follow planned activities to motivate project team to execute and iteratively adapt to better creation of tools to overcome needs.

- Most hybrid method (with respect to PMOs) has been successful in many cases, especially when the C-level executives support them. This also may depend on the organizational structure (i.e. CIO & PMO inter-relations, etc.)

- The question is how to incorporate Agile into PMO? One may think that the PMO is whatever executives decide and dictate to execute! So their function is to respond to upper management needs.

Your comments and thoughts can help to better support our PMO community.

July 17, 2013

How to bring Agile to other departments; Marketing, Sales, Support, etc.

Category: Management — David @ 6:53 pm

It is a daunting task to convince other departmental executives to coordinate their departments’ projects with the rest of organization using Agile methodology! This was actually a question brought up by a colleague at one of our PMI-SV chapter meetings. Below are some of responses from the leading managers attending our meeting;

  • We shall think in Agile methodology before we buy-in to it! In other words, managers shall think in incremental changes by the team leading to the final product.
  • Expectations of executives must be tuned with Agile mindset.
  • Customers must also be communicated to accept Agile methodology; incremental updates, accepting increments, and proceed this iteration till the end of project / product.
  • Managers need to know that there is no UAT (User Acceptance Test) using Agile methodology.
  • All departments’ team members shall be familiar with Agile methodology.
  • Other departments’ managers and executives must accept that there would be no date commitment for intermediate processes. However, a tentative end-date can be set forth.
  • Drive priorities as set in requirements and proceed with “Stories”.
  • Only commit to what is visible to you (that can be delivered incrementally).
  • Agile is a value-driven process that depends on the value of what is set to be done. The value is known or set by the customers and stakeholders; usually using 20-80 rule (i.e. 20% of requirements will drive 80% of the bulk of the product). These are end user values that are set and delivered incrementally.
  • Agile will use “progressive elaboration” of products and end user results. However, how customers would have end results depends on progressive elaboration and incremental delivery of needs. This is the (Agile) process that shall be clearly communicated to all parties involved.
  • Other time-dependent actions and revenue-recognition event (such as Press Releases) can be addressed depend on the cut-off date set forth at the beginning of the process. However, delivery of requirements shall proceed incrementally till the set-date.
  • Important requirement (within the 20% set) shall be scheduled within the stories and delivered by the set date. All other requirements (within 80% set) are set to be delivered incrementally as the project advances.

More information regarding upcoming classes and trainings in San Jose area:
PMI-ACP Exam Prep Course (3 Days) at PMI – San Francisco Bay Area Chapter:
– Instructor: Anup Deshpande, August 3, 2013 @ 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Anup also offers training for individuals as well as corporate teams.

Please visit PMI- Silicon Valley chapter website for more information about different activities of PMI - Silicon Valley chapter.

Up-ward and On-ward,
David