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Project Management Office in the agile world

Project Management

Oct 2, 2019 - 4 minutes read

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Urszula Pukalska
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PMBOK® Guide (6th edition) defines PMO as “an organizational structure that standardises project-related governance processes and facilitates sharing resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques” (PMI, 2.4.4.3, p. 48). What you can find among the resource pool of project managers are all sorts of templates, metrics, standard tools – and processes –  a lot of processes. In fact, there are so many processes that people need to stick to that PMO is sometimes referred to as the Process Police. Is this exactly the way it looks like at Objectivity?

PMO was established at Objectivity in 2012, and was originally called Project Management Support. Over the years, it has evolved together with the company’s growth. One thing, however, has not changed – we, PMO Specialists and PMO Experts, are working closely with Project Managers and Programme Managers as partners.

PMO Specialists’ work is defined by a baseline, i.e. a service suite which is provided to every client. You may ask how the “Process Police” can exist in the environment where projects are delivered in agile methodologies. The truth is that all our activities are based on guidelines rather than strict processes, as every customer (or even a project) has different needs. This is also the reason for having at least one dedicated PMO Specialist assigned to each tribe, who is always part of the project team. In our baseline, we have a few areas of interest – let’s have a look at them!

“Without data, you are just a guy with an opinion”

The first and the most visible area of the company are project and programme finances. Within a tribe, PMO is responsible, in the first place, for monitoring and controlling the project budget. This is done not only on a weekly but also monthly basis, or when it is necessary to make sure that we are on track and to find out what the future may hold. During project initiation or planning, PMO provides data that supports budget simulations and calculations.

We love data. We can look at numbers all day – analyse the data, compare a project plan with what is already on the table. However, this is not worth a dime if we do not share that information with other interested parties. That is why reporting has become our second strength. Here, we also have different experience among all PMOs, as we work not only with Objectivity project management tools but also with systems delivered by customers, which is quite often shared with other customer’s suppliers. This requires flexibility and experience with data gathering and processing. For project backlog management, we use JIRA and Microsoft Azure DevOps. We combine this with Excel and – in collaboration with Data Scientists – databases and data warehouse. This data is not only visualised – we also make a visual analysis and share our insights with the project team – they are the most important beneficiaries of our work and, in order to meet their needs, PMOs prepare tailored metrics. What is more, they have become a part of the Project Management Toolbox and all our employees have been familiarised with them.

“If you hate it, automate it!”

The same applies to things that you like or love because human nature is to simplify our lives, or at least allow things to happen on their own. In our daily work, we are looking for opportunities to optimise and automate. For data visualisation and visual analysis, we use not only Excel but also introduced Microsoft Power BI as a tool for data aggregation and visualisation. In order to make our (and PMs) life easier in the area of resource plans creation, we prepared a process robot with the RPA team, which is supposed to support this task.

“There is always space for improvement, no matter how long you've been in the business.”

In our daily work, we do not only focus on delivery to projects and programmes – our presence is also noticed in other nooks of the company. Payroll, controlling, business trips and many more – PMO Experts are not only working in the role of PMO Specialists, but are also cooperating closely with other company heroes. We may say that PMO links the backoffice specialists with delivery teams in order to prepare new tools and guidelines and, wherever it is possible, to assess their impact on the employees’ daily work and to make sure that the process is not too heavy.

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”

I have been working at Objectivity for over 4 years and since that time I have observed the company’s growth as well as the changes in PMO role. There is no place for boredom here, but rather space for new industries to be discovered, new skills to be learnt and the old ones to be improved, as well as new tools to develop and new people to meet and create relationship with.

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Urszula Pukalska
See all Urszula's posts

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