Four Key Areas to Implement Agile PM

Author: Tom Raper

There are many benefits organizations can achieve by applying Agile Portfolio Management to their PMO. The ability to quickly adapt to changes and stay aligned with the goals of the business being among the top – and many teams are looking at ways they can specifically adopt this methodology. But there can be confusion where to apply Agile so that it advances the goals of the organization and delivers real business value. Making the switch without focus won’t benefit anyone so it’s important to understand the goals of the business to maximize the effectiveness of Agile in your PMO and to your organization. Read on to learn the four key areas that benefit most from implementing Agile and why.

Agile Team Resourcing

Agile Portfolio Management doesn’t just mean agile for projects and planning – it means having an agile resourcing strategy. This creates a significant advantage with regard to resource allocation. The broad visibility of Agile Portfolio Management provides excellent access to the capabilities and capacity of individual team members as well as that of an entire team. Why is that beneficial? It results in more accurate team assignments, better use of resources and better capacity management.

Even with thousands of team members, a PMO leader can hand-pick the individuals a team is comprised of quickly and easily. Even better, they can assign a particular team member to a specific leg of the project based upon their capabilities and capacity — not just their role in the organization or their ability to be involved for the life of the project.

An Agile resourcing strategy allows you to know what everyone is doing and what their capacity is and then do a quick allocation at a team level. Managing resources in an Agile environment ensures all parties are deployed to the right work. This includes assigning and monitoring a team the same as an individual, regardless of time spent.

Kanban & Workflow 

Kanban and workflow get along quite well with Agile if it is implemented correctly. After all, Kanban thrives on visibility, sprint-like workflow and efficient backlog management. However, in order to ensure the shift to Agile is beneficial, proper governance must be at play. Governance ensures quality of output doesn’t get sacrificed for speed or efficiency sake, and that the increase in moving parts that sometimes accompanies Agile doesn’t devolve into frustration or lost momentum.

 

Part of ensuring a smooth workflow lies in the development of processes. From a Kanban and workflow standpoint, Agile Portfolio Management does not need to put enormous amounts of process in place. However, the processes that are there must ensure that effective governance is accomplished without constraining agility. In order to balance this, an organization should rely on automation to scale the processes and apply governance measures. The more a PMO can automate, the easier it will be to maintain efficiency. Automation allows you to create rules around funding, capacity, backlog and other key functions that reduces planning time and ensures accuracy. Having the right tools to help you manage this will make a big difference. Workflow models and Portfolio-level Kanban ensure workflows are succinct and streamlined. 

Dashboards & Reports

Reporting is another key areas to implement Agile to ensure visibility and transparency for all stakeholders and team members involved. By centralizing information into a single source of truth, teams are able to see information and status in real time, while sharing information without spending needless time gathering data for reporting. Reporting with real-time dashboards allows a PM to track milestones, progress, capacity and resources at any time and make decisions in time to realize the benefits of those changes.

Reporting is not just for in-flight projects or status updates. Reporting after projects are completed builds a historic profile that can inform future decision-making and increase forecast accuracy moving forward – another critical element of an Agile PMO. For example, a PM can utilize after-action reporting to find areas of risk and then work to mitigate those risks on future deliverables. Reporting and real-time dashboards also allow PM practitioners to share progress with leadership quickly and concisely. It also enables you to have influence on the upper-level decision-making that directly impacts their work and builds credibility and trust. Data-rich reporting facilitated by Agile PM tools empowers PMs and leadership to make decisions that align with business goals. 

Prioritized Backlog

The purpose of an Agile backlog is to score each project based on the strategic initiatives of the organization and then prioritize them so there is a consistent pipeline of actionable, vetted work ready to go. Backlog makes planning easier, keeps customer satisfaction and business priorities top of mind, maximizes productivity and speeds up delivery and workflow.

The backlog ensures there are always company-forward, actionable projects ready to go with minimal time spent fretting about capacity, vetting and delivery. How? Because that work was completed when compiling the backlog. With this in mind, it is important to continue reviewing and revising the backlog so it doesn’t lose its purpose. Fortunately, this will be a much easier task with a PM tool and good governance. Keep a log of all requests and intake while understanding constraints and focusing effort on the areas that make the biggest impact without neglecting the work that needs to get done.  

Enhance the effectiveness of Agile transformation on portfolio management by applying the principles in the areas that reap the most benefits. Utilizing Agile in team resourcing, Kanban and workflow, prioritized backlog and dashboards and reports can dramatically improve the success and value of your organization’s portfolio management.