Strategies for repositioning your PMO as a vital resource for transformation.

As more and more companies shift to deliver with agility, the purpose and value of Projects, Program, and Portfolio Management is being challenged. With the major trend of orienting in support of a product-focus versus project-focus delivery model, organizations are readying for the long-term sustainment and innovation of their key sources of revenue. 

Further, the most popularly marketed Agile frameworks do not contain roles typically found in the Project Management Office (PMO), including Scrum, Kanban, Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), and Scrum at Scale (S@S). The exception is within larger or higher levels of implementation of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) construct, which do have some form of Portfolio and Program Management built-in; however, the operation of these roles is different to that of most current standing Waterfall approaches.

Evidence of this change is reflected in the slowing of growth in job openings for Project Managers, which we have seen across our portfolio of customers in recent years. Instead, there is a large influx of requests for Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Release Train Engineers – indicators of Agile operating models. Additionally, the increase of companies adopting Agile practices is notable as one survey found that 94% of organizations are practicing Agile.

Individual Learning

If you are part of your organization’s PMO, how should you prepare for the changes likely heading your way? If you are leading the PMO, what is your game plan to get ahead of the pending evolution? Our suggestion is to start by growing yourself. In order to adjust as an individual, no matter what role you currently have within the PMO, knowledge is of utmost importance. Start by learning everything you can about popular Agile methods, roles, and mindset. Expand your foundation of knowledge by:

  • Starting with a general Agile course for introductory purposes, but know that you cannot stop there
  • Learning what different team-level frameworks exist (Scrum, Kanban, and Xtreme Programming or XP)
  • Understanding key principles of the vital roles in Scrum: Scrum Master and Product Owner
  • Learning about scaling beyond the team and scaled frameworks that exist (LeSS, SAFe, S@S, etc.)
  • Finding an experienced mentor and advisor to guide you (this is often a third-party consultant)
  • Starting to rebrand yourself using Agile terminology with which you resonate
  • Reach out for opportunities that will challenge your new Agile skills and learn from the experience

With the major trend of orienting in support of a product-focus versus project-focus delivery model, organizations are readying for the long-term sustainment and innovation of their key sources of revenue. 

Position the PMO for Success

Shift from the defense to the offense by moving the PMO into action. Become the champion of change, and a vital resource for the enterprise to leverage during transformation. Consider building your competency in the following ways. 

Rebrand the PMO as an Agile Transformation Office (ATO)

Take ownership over the adoption of Agility at large and define the strategy for change. Set the standards for the enterprise’s operating and delivery model. Reinvigorate and strengthen the office as a key player in transformation by creating the official Agile playbook to be leveraged across the organization. Facilitate Communities of Practice to support building competencies that drive change, including enabling lean governance and funding policies.

Become an Agile Resource Center

Consider bringing in external resources to shore up maturity across the organization, such as Scrum Masters, Product Owners, and other roles where candidates have ample experience working in Agile environments. Similarly, develop and deploy Agile training for the organization. Maintain consistency and facilitate the conversation to ensure IT and the Business are aligned and set up for optimal success. Lastly, be the Center of Excellence for Agile Coaching, continuously improving this competency to support overall transformation efforts and providing long-term sustainment. Establishing yourselves as agents of change and trusted resources across the organization will be key for driving success.

Start Transforming

Start transformation efforts within the PMO organization first. Invest in education and coaching to support Portfolio Managers, Program Managers, Project Managers, Business Analysts, etc. to embrace new ways of working and future roles and responsibilities.  For the enterprise, if adoption has started organically, connect with these groups and offer support and a seat at the table. Avoid controlling their existing efforts, but instead empower them wherever possible and use their groups as case studies for establishing what does and does not work for your organization. Leverage the playbook and refine it as needed based on your learnings and feedback from your teams.

Consider Key Partners

Once you have repositioned your PMO, be prepared to support the masses as they work through transformation. Don’t expect people in your organization that have never worked in an Agile environment before to be experts just because they have been assigned an Agile role. Putting a newly certified Scrum Master in charge of helping a team understand how to adopt and transform, for example, is a recipe for bad morale and limited results, which can stall real transformative action.

Engage a trusted advisor as a sounding board, for guidance, and for practical ideas to support lasting change and you won’t have to do it all by yourself. Leverage their real-life experiences to avoid pitfalls and build stability around transformation efforts to ensure the organization is consuming the change and staying productive. Enlisting external expertise can also help by providing mature, experienced resources to fit your needs and support scalability.


Our Agile and Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) solution teams have expert-level visibility into key market trends across many industries. These experts recommend repositioning your PMO to meet the growing need for agility and providing vital agents of change in organizations during their transformation journeys.