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Building and Optimising a Hybrid PMO

More and more organisations are embracing Agile ways of working in order to deliver products to customers more quickly and more efficiently. This often leads to the need for an agile or hybrid PMO. But what exactly is a hybrid PMO, and does the shape of it depend on the agile tools or methodologies in play? We aim to answer some of the commonly asked questions about setting up or optimising the hybrid PMO.

What Agile is and what it isn’t

There are a myriad of agile methods, more than 50 at last count, but the one thing they all have in common is that they can tend to be been seen as a magic bullet to resolve project delivery holdups and weighty governance processes. Whether you are using Scrum, SAFe, DevOps or another brand of Agile you were likely drawn to it because it offers a way of delivering incrementally. Agile puts the customer at the heart of the process and often allows for a pragmatic, team-centric approach to planning. Where the projects and products are software related, or lend themselves to an incremental approach, and of course when scope is not clearly defined, agile delivery methods have been a game changer in the tech world. Culturally as well as technically.

When projects do have a clear and essentially fixed scope of work and/or the project is not suitable for an incremental delivery style, agile methods alone are likely not the optimum approach. It’s hard to imagine building a bridge or a power plant incrementally, but that’s not to say there isn’t some value in agile techniques, across all project types.

The value of a waterfall approach is its structure and governance as well as the discipline around planning. This structure helps to provide greater transparency around project outcomes but can also slow things down which can be frustrating. Particularly in fast paced or dynamic environments. By blending the right mix of both approaches, project delivery and the work of the PMO can be transformed.

Most of our customers use some kind of hybrid approach, taking the agile tools and techniques that are needed and blending it with the more rigid governance frameworks that satisfy stakeholders and leadership teams. This balance is hard to get right, with delivery teams often complaining that ‘it’s not true agile’ and leadership teams unsatisfied with the level of transparency in reporting.

How we add value to the hybrid PMO process

When we are asked to establish a hybrid PMO the first thing we do is to establish how agile the customer wants to be. We generally ask, ‘What are the type of projects (software/hardware/build…) you do and what are the organisational parameters around planning, governance, financial management?’ Then we’ll canvas the team on what they think are the components of agility that work well (or would work well) in the specific environment. We will overlay those elements on both side of the agile spectrum and refine them, in consultation with the customer and leveraging good practices seen in other leading organisations. This will be the basis of the new hybrid agile framework. Over time as comfort with the new ways of working increases, the original parameters may also change, meaning a pathway to continual improvement.

What can we do to help you get the optimum hybrid approach?

We offer a number of services to support PMO teams uplifting their hybrid PMO capability. We have a 2-day course which details the practical steps that you can take to optimise your Hybrid PMO and covers everything from tool sets to governance. Take a look at the course outline here

We can also provide support through the development of agile frameworks which both leverage existing ways of working and introduce new ones.

If we can help you optimise your Hybrid PMO talk to us today.

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