Cross-Functional Learning


Our well-rounded business content is designed for Leaders & Managers to implement change with ease & improve accountability amongst their teams. Here you'll find Articles from thought leaders in their fields, have access to practical Business Templates, learn new skills & expand on skills you already have. Stay informed & proactive...Join Us Today!

Join Now

PMO 2.0 - Positioning for Success in an Agile World

By Ron Montgomery (1021 words)
Posted in Project & Process Management on September 17, 2013

There are (5) comments permalink

Add to My Toolkit

The Program Management Office (PMO) function became common in the late 1990s as companies were launching projects to prepare for Y2K challenges.  These PMOs had the mission of coordinating and sometimes controlling these myriad Y2K initiatives.  These PMOs carried out their missions and moved on to additional challenges such as SOX, large-scale accounting, CRM, and ERP implementations.  They have established themselves as the “go-to” source for project management information and are often positioned as the gatekeeper for all enterprise-level projects. There has been a continuous flow of projects through these PMOs and they have become a key part of the corporate landscape.  


As the PMO function became firmly established, along came the agile movement.   The agile principles, which feature short delivery cycles, frequent business-driven prioritization, and a bias toward results over paperwork, offers a solution for businesses that need to adapt to a dynamic and hostile business environment.  The early agile initiatives, circa 2004-2010, were undertaken as pilot projects.  In the past 2-3 years, the pilot projects have given way to efforts to scale agile to an enterprise level.  Soon agile will be the de facto framework for software development projects. 


Regardless of the particular approach to agility (Lean, Scrum, XP, Scaled Agile, Disciplined Agile, etc.) agile at scale will drive significant changes in the manner in which projects are planned and executed.  There will be a transition from command and control culture toward servant leadership and empowerment.  This will, in turn, spawn more self-managed teams with new roles and greater accountability.  These teams will deliver projects in shorter timelines with a reduced need for extensive oversight and control measures.  As agile drives changes to project delivery, the PMO must change accordingly and this will require starting with a blank sheet of paper.


If they have not already done so, PMO leaders need to rethink their strategic plans. They should begin by talking with key stakeholders to understand their perception of the business value provided by the PMO.   

  • Do stakeholders view the PMO as only a “methodology cop” or control point?  

  • Is the PMO viewed as the owner of plans or an enabler of business results?

  • Do the current PMO prioritization methods ensure the highest value work is being undertaken?

  • Do PMO metrics provide information to support effective decision-making by senior management?

  • Which PMO activities are contributing to the realization of business value, and which activities are impediments?


The PMO leader should re-evaluate the PMO’s mission and vision in light of these conversations.  From the viewpoint of these key stakeholders, has the purpose of the PMO already changed?  What unique business value can be provided by the PMO in light of these changes?  Given the updated mission, the PMO leader should consider the following:

  • Why should key stakeholders and PMO staff embrace this change?

  • To what extent will legacy mindsets impede the transformation to a new mission?

  • What actions will be required to establish the PMO as a credible thought-leader in support of the new mission?

  • What services should be discontinued and what new, higher value services be launched?

  • How will the PMO acquire the resources to make these changes, given current workloads?

  • What project control processes should be replaced or eliminated?  

  • What metrics are no longer useful and what new metrics should be captured?

  • Will the PMO need to support additional stakeholders?  

  • How can the PMO enable collaboration across business and technology silos?

  • How will the PMO interact with new roles such as product owner and scrum-master?  


PMOs have successfully carried out their missions for the past 10-15 years.  However, while past success can buy some useful political capital, it does not guarantee future success.  Therefore, the PMO leader should develop a new strategic plan and then obtain executive sponsorship for a program to transform the PMO into an organization that continues to add business value as the agile movement continues to mature.   



Additional Resources:

Following is a link to a helpful book on setting up a PMO that provides significant business value.  I particularly like the way the author distinguishes between PMOs that add business value vs. PMOs that seem to be implemented by project managers and for project managers.



Following is a link to the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) which has been employed at many large-scale enterprises.  It focuses on three levels:  portfolio, program and team.  In reviewing this framework, a PMO leader can identify previously overlooked opportunities to add value in a large-scale agile environment.





Written by Ron Montgomery, Management Consultant & Owner, OnPoint, LLC Ron is certified as a Project Management Professional, Agile Certified Practitioner and Certified ScrumMaster with over 35 years of hands-on experience in business planning, software development, process improvement & deployment of software solutions.  By partnering with clients to drive business value from technology projects, Ron assists clients with business planning, IT strategy, project and program management, vendor selection and team training/mentoring.


Do you have a management question for Ron? Please visit our Project Management Community and he will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


Did you find this article informative?  Let us keep you up-to-date on all of our training articles. Please sign up for our newsletter today!  


Here are some related articles you may be interested in: 

Communication Essentials For Project Managers

Creating An Agile Culture: Top 3 Challenges Empowered Teams Face

Learn How Action Oriented Team Management Can Drive Timely Results.

Lessons Learned Templates & Guide: A Managers Toolkit for Continuous Improvement

Agile Methodology: A Creative Approach to Project Management 

Agile Success Factors: The Product Owner Role

Operating Systems Assessment



At ManagingAmericans.com we customize organizational tools that discover & unlock the true potential of individuals and organizations. Our focus is to align objectives, engage people & link strategy to execution. We support that effort with 30+ Expert Consultants providing exclusive management & leadership training & management consultancy services in one easy to use location.



Comments (5)

PMO Global Institute Inc. posted on: May 15, 2023

Hey there, author! First off, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article on positioning a Project Management Office (PMO) for success in an agile world. It's clear that you have a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that come with implementing agile methodologies within a traditional PMO framework. Your insights were not only informative but also provided practical advice for navigating this transition effectively.

I particularly appreciated your emphasis on the importance of cultural change and mindset shift when adopting agile practices. It's true that agile goes beyond just implementing new tools and processes; it requires a fundamental change in the way teams collaborate and approach their work. Your suggestion to focus on fostering a culture of collaboration, transparency, and continuous learning resonated with me. It's crucial for organizations to create an environment where individuals feel empowered to take ownership of their work and where failure is seen as an opportunity for growth rather than a setback.

Additionally, I found your recommendations on adapting the PMO role in an agile context to be spot on. The shift from a command-and-control approach to becoming a facilitator and enabler aligns perfectly with agile principles. Your suggestion to redefine the PMO's role as a strategic partner and coach to project teams reflects the changing dynamics of project management in today's fast-paced and unpredictable business landscape. It was refreshing to see you advocate for flexibility and customization, emphasizing the need to tailor agile practices to fit the unique needs of each organization.

Overall, your article was insightful, engaging, and provided practical guidance for PMOs looking to embrace agility. Thank you for sharing your expertise, and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future! Keep up the great work, and best of luck in your agile endeavors.

Abdullapmp posted on: August 5, 2023

Just read your article on Agile PMOs at managingamericans.com. Loved how you highlighted PMO evolution in an Agile world. Insightful! ?? #ProjectManagement #AgileSuccess

PMO Global Institute posted on: August 8, 2023

I just finished reading your insightful article on PMO 2.0 and its positioning for success in an Agile world, and I wanted to express my gratitude for addressing such a relevant and crucial topic. Your exploration of how Project Management Offices (PMOs) can adapt and thrive in an Agile environment provided valuable insights for professionals navigating this dynamic landscape.

Your analysis of the evolving role of PMOs in the context of Agile methodologies was both enlightening and well-researched. I appreciated how you discussed the challenges that traditional PMOs face in an Agile world and how PMO 2.0 can overcome these challenges by embracing Agile principles. Your emphasis on flexibility, collaboration, and continuous improvement resonated deeply with the core values of Agile practices.

I found your breakdown of the key functions of PMO 2.0 to be particularly insightful. Your discussions on fostering a culture of innovation, providing strategic alignment, and serving as an enabler for Agile teams showcased the multifaceted role that PMO 2.0 can play in supporting organizational success.

Furthermore, your practical tips and recommendations for successfully implementing PMO 2.0 were incredibly valuable. Your insights into creating a supportive environment for Agile teams, promoting knowledge sharing, and leveraging metrics for continuous improvement highlighted the actionable steps that organizations can take to position their PMOs for success in an Agile world.

Thank you for providing such a comprehensive and well-rounded view of PMO 2.0 and its role in an Agile context. Your article has broadened my understanding of how PMOs can adapt and thrive in today's rapidly changing project management landscape. Keep up the fantastic work, and I'm eagerly looking forward to reading more of your informative and thought-provoking articles!

PMO Global Institute posted on: September 2, 2023

Hey there! I just finished reading your article on "Positioning for Success in an Agile World" over at ManagingAmericans, and I must say, it was an enlightening read. Kudos to you for shedding light on the critical role of a PMO in the agile landscape. Your insights truly hit the nail on the head.

I couldn't agree more with your emphasis on adaptability and flexibility in today's project management landscape. In this ever-evolving world, the ability to pivot and respond to change is a game-changer. Your analogy of the PMO being the "compass" in the agile journey was spot on. It's reassuring to know that there's a guiding force to steer projects through the sometimes tumultuous waters of agile development. Your article not only reinforced the significance of PMOs but also provided practical tips on how to make them more effective. I particularly liked your suggestions on fostering a culture of continuous improvement and promoting collaboration across teams. Keep up the fantastic work, and I look forward to reading more of your insightful pieces in the future! for more information please visit the website: https://pmoglobalinstitute.org/traditional-pmo-vs-agile-pmo/

PMO Global Institute posted on: October 1, 2023

Hey there, Author! Just finished reading your article on "Positioning for Success in an Agile World" over at Managing Americans, and I couldn't help but drop a comment. First off, kudos to you for shedding light on such a crucial topic. Agile methodologies have undoubtedly become a cornerstone in project management, and your insights are spot on.

Your explanation of the PMO's role in an agile environment was truly enlightening. I've often seen organizations struggle to adapt, and your article provides valuable guidance. The way you emphasized the need for flexibility and the ability to pivot swiftly hit the nail on the head. It's clear you have a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in this shift.

Moreover, I appreciated your practical tips on fostering a culture of continuous improvement within a PMO. Your emphasis on collaboration, feedback loops, and a growth mindset resonated with me. It's evident that you're not just preaching theory but sharing real-world wisdom. I'll definitely be sharing this with my project management buddies; it's a must-read for anyone navigating the agile landscape. Keep up the fantastic work, and I look forward to more of your insightful articles in the future!
For more information please visit the website: https://pmoglobalinstitute.org/common-pmo-challenges/

Leave a comment

Not a robot?