The PMO in an Agile world – challenges and opportunities for the PMO leaders


By Buck Kulkarni

New Jersey, USA


Project Management Offices (PMO) rose in prominence as a tool for managing projects over the past three decades. With the Agile transformation sweeping the technology world, it faces new challenges in delivering value to the organization. The biggest challenge is to redefine the role of the PMO in the context of new leadership styles such as adaptive leadership and servant leadership that deliver value in a highly matrixed environments. The biggest opportunity, on the other hand, is to be the anchor for the organization as it goes thru a difficult transition from traditional to Agile processes. The PMO leaders will need to dive deep into roles and relationships across the organization to design the new PMO. Fortunately, there are industry research and best practices to help, directly and indirectly, the PMO leaders can leverage and this article points to valuable knowledge from the PMI® (Project Management Institute) that provides unique insights into PMO structuring. PMO leaders will need to transform their own organization ahead of the Agile transformation to stay relevant, else risk falling by the wayside as the Agile juggernaut rolls forward.


The PMO has been a fixture in most IT departments for the past 3 to 4 decades. Huge investments were made to steer away from wild-west coding and professionals were encouraged to get their PMPs and roll out formal project management processes using PMBoK principles and process groups and knowledge areas. The PMOs introduced structures, controls, best practices, tools and techniques and instituted processes for lifecycle management as well as enhancing knowledge in specific areas of project management. The PMI, almost synonymous (though other reputed bodies also operate in this space) with project management, grew to be one of the most successful professional bodies with world-wide following. It kept in touch with the changing dynamics of the profession by introducing formal structures for program and portfolio management and ensured these disciplines were inter-connected. It recently added Agile to its portfolio of knowledge and certification.

And while this work is acknowledged by organizations the world over, we are also inundated with reports about how IT projects have high failure rates and/or consume more time and money than planned.

One of the probable reasons could be that, as with most endeavors, the pendulum swung too much to the other side. Different organizations, reflecting their own culture, experiences and stage on the maturity journey, have different positions with regard to processes. They fall into following broad categories: 


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About the Author

pmwj16-nov2013-kulkarni-IMAGEflag-usaBuck Kulkarni

New Jersey, USA

Buck Kulkarni is a technology transformation and governance consultant based in New Jersey, USA. He helps corporations (both technology consumers and providers) establish governance frameworks and Agile transformation roadmaps from ‘Agile Development’ to ‘Agile Corporation’ when the entire enterprise is able to leverage the agile principles and values to achieve exceptional business results. Buck is committed to best practices and continuous process improvement and has trained students as well as corporate professionals in the arena of project management, process improvement and governance over the years. Buck maintains current certification as a Program Management Professional (PgMP) and Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) from the PMI as well as Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) from ISACA. Buck can be contacted at [email protected].