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The Role of the Product Management Office in Scrum

The Role of the Product Management Office in Scrum

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Published by abdul rasheed shaik

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Published by: abdul rasheed shaik on Dec 05, 2010
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12/05/2010

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September/October 2010 $9.95 www.StickyMinds.comThe Print Companion to
THE COST OF FREE
Open source obligations
FIND A FIT
Project managementin Scrum
 
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A project management oce (PMO) that is engaged inand supportive o transitioning to Scrum can be a tremen-dous boon. Members o the PMO oten view themselves asprotectors and supporters o a practice, so a PMO can helpimplement and spread agile practices across the organization.However, when the PMO is not properly involved, it can bea source o resistance as it tries to deend the current process,rather than improve it.The natural response o most people in the PMO is to re-sist the transition to Scrum, because much o the change isboth personally and proessionally rightening. Scrum scatterstraditional project management responsibilities among theScrumMaster, product owner, and the team, leaving projectmanagers questioning their role. The absence o the PMO inmost Scrum and agile literature adds to the natural concernso PMO members.In this article, we will ease those ears by looking at thetype o work perormed by PMOs in organizations that havesuccessully transitioned to Scrum. We will look at the contri-butions and work o the PMO in three areas: people, projects,and process.
People
Although it’s called the project management oce, thePMO has tremendous infuence on the people involved in aScrum transition. An agile PMO should do the ollowing:
 Develop a training program.
There is much to adoptingScrum that will be new and unamiliar to many team mem-bers. The PMO can be o tremendous assistance in putting to-gether a training program, selecting outside trainers to deliverthe training, or delivering the training themselves.
 Provide coaching.
Beyond training people, individualand small-group coaching is incredibly helpul. In a trainingclass, the instructor says, “Here’s how to do a sprint planningmeeting,” or example, and perhaps runs the class through anexercise to practice it. With coaching, someone with deep ex-perience sits with the team and helps team members throughtheir own real sprint planning meeting (or whatever skill isbeing coached). Early on, members o the PMO might nothave these skills themselves, but they should ocus on ac-quiring them rom outside coaches and then do the hands-oncoaching themselves.
Select and train coaches.
A successul Scrum initiative will
 
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eventually lead to more coaching needs than the PMO canmanage on its own. Members o the PMO should identiy anddevelop coaches by watching the teams they help and thenproviding training or assistance to help selected individualsbecome skilled coaches. These coaches usually retain theircurrent jobs but are given additional responsibilities, such asspending up to ve hours per week helping a specic team.
Challenge existing behaviors.
When the organization be-gins to adopt Scrum, the members o the PMO look or teamswho are alling back into old habits or whose old habits arepreventing them rom becoming agile. Later, members o thePMO can remind teams that Scrum is about continuous im-provement and can help prevent the onset o complacency.
Projects
Although some project-oriented responsibilities go awaywith the change to an agile PMO, some responsibilities re-main, including the ollowing:
 Assist with reporting.
In most organizations large enoughto have a PMO, there is usually something like a meeting orweekly report on the status o each project with the depart-ment head. I this is a meeting, it should be attended by ap-propriate project personnel, such as the product owner orScrumMaster. I it is a weekly, standardized status report, thePMO can assist in preparing the report.
 Assist with compliance needs.
Many projects need tocomply with standards (ISO 9001, Sarbanes-Oxley, and soon) or with organization-specic rules, such as those or datasecurity. An agile PMO can assist teams by making themaware o such needs, advising them on how to comply, andserving as a central clearinghouse or tips and shared knowl-edge on compliance and similar matters.
 Manage the infow o new projects.
One o the most im-portant responsibilities o an agile PMO is to assist in man-aging the rate at which new projects fow into the develop-ment organization. As described in chapter 10 o Succeedingwith Agile [1], it is important to limit work to capacity. Oth-erwise, work piles up, leading to a litanyo problems. Foreach project completed, a new project o the same size canbe started. The agile PMO can serve as gatekeeper and helpthe organization resist the temptation to start projects tooquickly.

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