Welcome!

Machine Learning Authors: Ed Featherston, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Dan Blacharski, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Machine Learning

Microservices Expo: Article

The Agile PMO

Leading the effective, value-driven, Project Management Office

Tom Jenkins, the newly appointed PMO manager convened his team. Xavier, Paula and Xing were eager to start work. Tom explained that the PMO rollout is a change process. He gave his team assignments around stakeholder analysis, mapping of communication requirements, and creation of the PMO newsletter. While the team was somewhat puzzled with these activities they moved to fulfill them. Working with the stakeholders, the team captured many complaints pertaining to the current way of work and gathered numerous requests for improvements. Eagerly awaiting their next meeting, which was held virtually through a videoconference, they prepared a list of proposed improvements. Xavier proposed to commence work on the work breakdown structure and the software development lifecycle. Paula suggested to update the risk register template and to implement a new tool for project scheduling. Xing reported that the stakeholders were keen on having a team collaboration tool and added that they are many resource conflicts which were not managed at present.

Tom listened carefully to his PMO team and empathized with their concerns. He then patiently detailed his vision of the PMO. While this was not the first time he discussed the vision, it was important that the team revisit the vision in light of their findings. He also instructed the team to communicate the vision continuously to the stakeholders during meetings. He further emphasized the importance of communicating through a newsletter to the global community. He moved to investigate with the team, which stakeholders were appearing to be powerful, interested and supportive to the cause of the PMO, and which were appearing to be opposing and would probably produce obstacles to the PMO implementation. He also offered his perspective around which areas may enable quick wins.

He then engaged the team in a discussion about value creation and how the PMO might provide value to the project and product community. He queried the team regarding the current status of the portfolio resource pool. It was evident from the team response that there was a resource pool in existence which was loosely managed, not centrally controlled, and not based on resource planned and actual efforts. Actually, in order to manage the resources on a global basis a new tool had to be implemented and more than 8000 resources had to be updated into the global tool. That was dire news indeed.

It seemed that in order to create value, the newly formed PMO had to immediately invest a huge sum in the procurement and implementation of a new software. Additionally, a new SDLC methodology had to be generated, updated processes had to be written and dozens of templates and work instructions developed.

It seemed a monumental undertaking and the team was at a loss regarding where to begin. They felt that it would be three years before they would start producing value. One of them even suggested hiring a management consulting firm and recruit five additional analysts to help with this huge undertaking. Once more Tom provided support to his team members, permitting them to air out their concerns. Then he explained the concept of the Agile PMO.

100 Days of Grace
He said that they did not have three years to create value; at most they had 100 days of grace before they were expected to produce some initial results. Xavier responded by offering to produce a new version of the risk register which may be not exactly what everyone needed but might make some stakeholders happy and buy the PMO some more precious time.

Tom gently rejected his offer, pointing out that a new risk register while useful, is not what an Agile PMO is about. The new risk register might add confusion and not support value creation and thus would be a waste of effort and time. This led to an extended period of silence and Tom suggested that the team would take a few days to contemplate on how to proceed.

Three days later the team reconvened, Paula proposed an idea. She said that resource conflicts were abundant and that the most value-added activity that the PMO could perform, was to manage resources on a global scale. Tom commented that it was a good idea. Xing questioned the logic of this idea saying, that they are too many resources to manage. Xavier interjected and added that the tool that was in place was not able to support such a task. Paula said that they don’t need to manage all resources, and maybe in an Agile PMO it was enough that they manage only what was needed to enable value creation. The other team members then listened attentively to her idea.

She explained that at this time they do not have a complete list of all projects executed globally and that should be their next task. Once they have such a list they would be able to assess project contribution from a portfolio perspective. Then they would be able to mediate between the different projects and assist management with making educated decisions pertaining to project prioritization based on the full list of projects in the global organization. Tom said that that was a good step in the right direction of being effective.

Eagerly, the team discussed how to carry out mapping of the projects. They defined a template to update the project list into and scheduled a meeting for the following week to review their results. Tom added that it is probably a good idea to present their findings in the newsletter and to continue stakeholders’ assessments regarding support or opposition to the PMO activities.

During the team meeting the week after, it was evident that many pet projects existed, which were using resources without providing benefits to the portfolio. The team mapped about 35% of projects that were redundant and probably unimportant to the portfolio of the company.

Tom said that this was a good example for an Agile PMO. Instead of discussing processes, tools and templates they were engaged in how to make the project and product community more effective. Xing then offered an idea; he said that he had noticed many resource conflicts that were plaguing the projects in his region. He was convinced that these conflicts were occurring between important projects and it was very important to map all the resources allocated to these projects to resolve the conflicts. Resolving the conflicts would enable streamlining important projects, contributing to the portfolio. Xavier said that mapping and allocating all the resources in the region would be impossible as there are more than 800 resources in that specific region, and most of them do not report to timesheets on a regular basis. He added that in any case, the tool in place does not support these reporting requirements. Xing answered that he had given much thought and suggested that initially they map only the critical resources.

The team then deliberated what constitutes a critical resource. Tom offered his perspective and recommended they read an all-time bestseller on the subject of mapping of critical resources by the famous author and physicist Eli Goldratt: “Critical Chain Project Management." He said that true to the concept of the Agile PMO, they will identify critical resources. He estimated that only 3 to 5% of the total number of resources would prove to be critical. By following this line of reasoning, the team would quickly be able to allocate critical resources to prioritized projects enabling streamlining of the value creating projects from the portfolio perspective.

One month later the PMO team was able to provide an almost complete list of projects in the global organization, along with the list of critical resources. These were the critical resources that impacted project completion. By closely managing loading of these resources, the PMO was able to provide and assist project managers and management with timely-based decisions about resource allocations. The PMO also suggested on terminating none value added projects and transferring employees working on these projects to other projects which were creating value from the portfolio perspective. Three months after inception of the PMO, the impact was already tangible:

  1. More stakeholders were moving from neutral attitude to high support of the PMO activities;
  2. The low hanging fruit of critical resource mapping provided quick wins which enabled more rigorous undertakings to complement the initial activities.
  3. The newsletter was instrumental for conveying the message of value creation from the portfolio perspective;

From Push to Pull
With the support of Paula, Xavier and Xing, the vision set forth by Tom became a reality 20 months after PMO inception. Needless to say that within this time the PMO transformed into a strategic tool for portfolio decisions about future projects. The concept of the Agile PMO translated into a PULL mechanism of projects, whereby projects are selected based on resource pool status. This was opposed to the previous approach of a PUSH mechanism whereby all incoming projects were selected, which resulted in the clogging of the resource pool and thus hindering the streamlining effect and reducing the throughput of projects.

Naturally, with time a unified software development lifecycle was constructed along with relevant processes, templates, and then a new software tool for integrating information globally. The software tool was a natural evolution to the development effort of the PMO. The team understood that using a tool to create change is futile, and rather the tool should be implemented after a considerable amount of the change has been in place. The tool as such becomes a method to encapsulate the change into corporate culture.

In conclusion, the Agile PMO delivers what is needed at the time when it is required. The Agile PMO focuses on the most important value creating activities while keeping sight of the overall objective. This is in contrast to the development of all at once, which tends to be the initial expectation that is expressed by stakeholders. The PMO is not about tools, processes, or a methodology, rather it is about creating value.

This article is adapted from chapter nine of the author’s book  The Agile PMO.”

More Stories By Michael Nir

Michael Nir - President of Sapir Consulting - (M.Sc. Engineering) has been providing operational, organizational and management consulting and training for over 15 years. He is passionate about Gestalt theory and practice, which complements his engineering background and contributes to his understanding of individual and team dynamics in business. Michael authored 8 Bestsellers in the fields of Influencing, Agile, Teams, Leadership and others. Michael's experience includes significant expertise in the telecoms, hi-tech, software development, R&D environments and petrochemical & infrastructure industries. He develops creative and innovative solutions in project and product management, process improvement, leadership, and team building programs. Michael's professional background is analytical and technical; however, he has a keen interest in human interactions and behaviors. He holds two engineering degrees from the prestigious Technion Institute of Technology: a Bachelor of civil engineering and Masters of Industrial engineering. He has balanced his technical side with the extensive study and practice of Gestalt Therapy and "Instrumental Enrichment," a philosophy of mediated learning. In his consulting and training engagements, Michael combines both the analytical and technical world with his focus on people, delivering unique and meaningful solutions, and addressing whole systems.

@CloudExpo Stories
"Storpool does only block-level storage so we do one thing extremely well. The growth in data is what drives the move to software-defined technologies in general and software-defined storage," explained Boyan Ivanov, CEO and co-founder at StorPool, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, provided some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacent...
Blockchain. A day doesn’t seem to go by without seeing articles and discussions about the technology. According to PwC executive Seamus Cushley, approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just last year. In Gartner’s recent hype cycle for emerging technologies, blockchain is approaching the peak. It is considered by Gartner as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is b...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, discussed the b...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
The use of containers by developers -- and now increasingly IT operators -- has grown from infatuation to deep and abiding love. But as with any long-term affair, the honeymoon soon leads to needing to live well together ... and maybe even getting some relationship help along the way. And so it goes with container orchestration and automation solutions, which are rapidly emerging as the means to maintain the bliss between rapid container adoption and broad container use among multiple cloud host...
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
The need for greater agility and scalability necessitated the digital transformation in the form of following equation: monolithic to microservices to serverless architecture (FaaS). To keep up with the cut-throat competition, the organisations need to update their technology stack to make software development their differentiating factor. Thus microservices architecture emerged as a potential method to provide development teams with greater flexibility and other advantages, such as the abili...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...