Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Jyoti Bansal, Pat Romanski, AppNeta Blog, Liz McMillan

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.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
Software development is a moving target. You have to keep your eye on trends in the tech space that haven’t even happened yet just to stay current. Consider what’s happened with augmented reality (AR) in this year alone. If you said you were working on an AR app in 2015, you might have gotten a lot of blank stares or jokes about Google Glass. Then Pokémon GO happened. Like AR, the trends listed below have been building steam for some time, but they’ll be taking off in surprising new directions b...
Everyone wants to use containers, but monitoring containers is hard. New ephemeral architecture introduces new challenges in how monitoring tools need to monitor and visualize containers, so your team can make sense of everything. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, David Gildeh, co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, will go through the challenges and show there is light at the end of the tunnel if you use the right tools and understand what you need to be monitoring to successfully use containers in your...
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
@DevOpsSummit has been named the ‘Top DevOps Influencer' by iTrend. iTrend processes millions of conversations, tweets, interactions, news articles, press releases, blog posts - and extract meaning form them and analyzes mobile and desktop software platforms used to communicate, various metadata (such as geo location), and automation tools. In overall placement, @DevOpsSummit ranked as the number one ‘DevOps Influencer' followed by @CloudExpo at third, and @MicroservicesE at 24th.
The IT industry is undergoing a significant evolution to keep up with cloud application demand. We see this happening as a mindset shift, from traditional IT teams to more well-rounded, cloud-focused job roles. The IT industry has become so cloud-minded that Gartner predicts that by 2020, this cloud shift will impact more than $1 trillion of global IT spending. This shift, however, has left some IT professionals feeling a little anxious about what lies ahead. The good news is that cloud computin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership abi...
The essence of cloud computing is that all consumable IT resources are delivered as services. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, demonstrated the concepts and implementations of two important cloud computing deliveries: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). He discussed from business and technical viewpoints what exactly they are, why we care, how they are different and in what ways, and the strategies for IT to transi...
After more than five years of DevOps, definitions are evolving, boundaries are expanding, ‘unicorns’ are no longer rare, enterprises are on board, and pundits are moving on. Can we now look at an evolution of DevOps? Should we? Is the foundation of DevOps ‘done’, or is there still too much left to do? What is mature, and what is still missing? What does the next 5 years of DevOps look like? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by DevOps Summit Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists l...
Thanks to Docker and the DevOps revolution, microservices have emerged as the new way to build and deploy applications — and there are plenty of great reasons to embrace the microservices trend. If you are going to adopt microservices, you also have to understand that microservice architectures have many moving parts. When it comes to incident management, this presents an important difference between microservices and monolithic architectures. More moving parts mean more complexity to monitor an...
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Microservices (μServices) are a fascinating evolution of the Distributed Object Computing (DOC) paradigm. Initial design of DOC attempted to solve the problem of simplifying developing complex distributed applications by applying object-oriented design principles to disparate components operating across networked infrastructure. In this model, DOC “hid” the complexity of making this work from the developer regardless of the deployment architecture through the use of complex frameworks, such as C...
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
We've all had that feeling before: The feeling that you're missing something that everyone else is in on. For today's IT leaders, that feeling might come up when you hear talk about cloud brokers. Meanwhile, you head back into your office and deal with your ever-growing shadow IT problem. But the cloud-broker whispers and your shadow IT issues are linked. If you're wondering "what the heck is a cloud broker?" we've got you covered.
In today's enterprise, digital transformation represents organizational change even more so than technology change, as customer preferences and behavior drive end-to-end transformation across lines of business as well as IT. To capitalize on the ubiquitous disruption driving this transformation, companies must be able to innovate at an increasingly rapid pace. Traditional approaches for driving innovation are now woefully inadequate for keeping up with the breadth of disruption and change facing...
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" ...
The rise of containers and microservices has skyrocketed the rate at which new applications are moved into production environments today. While developers have been deploying containers to speed up the development processes for some time, there still remain challenges with running microservices efficiently. Most existing IT monitoring tools don’t actually maintain visibility into the containers that make up microservices. As those container applications move into production, some IT operations t...