In a recent virtual event, Ruth Bedingfield, PMO Manager at Office Depot was asked questions from attendees about her experience using KeyedIn and specifically in their use as an Agile PMO. Check out her responses below!

Can you provide some guidance on how to adapt to dual-modal delivery success model by incorporating Agile into a traditional waterfall world? You cannot always be one or the other!

Ruth – We have a portfolio that needs to accommodate both delivery methods. From developing our Hybris platform, using Agile, to implementing a new Customer service Platform using waterfall, to Upgrading our Warehouse Management System using a combination of both.

How can we Increase Agility to accommodate change effectively and efficiently? We are looking to mobilize and re-plan our portfolio due to Coronavirus from a Priority and resourcing perspective.

Ruth – When the Coronavirus hit, as an organization we had to react quickly and impactfully to ensure that we could protect our business. We used KeyedIn to ensure transparency on project priority, what resources were required and what the impact of reducing resources would be on benefit realization. Having the Resource teams forecasted in both Agile team and task based teams, allowed us to see what the impacts to the portfolio would be making difficult decisions. Cost impacts managed to demonstrate real time savings. Interesting that many resources are spread across several key projects rather than just solely on one project.

Can you share a little bit about how you were able to ensure adoption of the solution and drive success?

Ruth – The key for us was to use a core governance framework, built collaboratively, to ensure adoption and drive success. Working with Key Stakeholders, we set clear understanding about what is different when utilising Agile methodologies and then building out collaboratively to drive positive adoption.

How were you able to react effectively to unplanned customer development requests across multiple delivery teams?

Ruth – Ensuring that our core process is in place and that it allowed flexibility and fluidity with managing unplanned change through prioritized backlogs, Team collaboration and clear visibility of resource utilization within KeyedIn. We were looking to enhance this process even further by utilizing our opportunity to integrate JIRA into KeyedIn. As we saw the huge benefit for streamline and effective working by merging the two platforms. 

Can you talk a little about long term capacity planning and what that looks like for Office Depot?

Ruth – I would try and apply a 30/60/90-day cycle to resourcing and then potentially extend past the 90 days with a base line forecast that you know will be flexible and fluid. That way you have the ‘Finger in the air’ guestimate that you can work from and then hone-in on and make more accurate as you can when possible. Using the Provisional and Confirmed option in the demand forecasting functionality within KeyedIn REALLY helps here. You have a very clear view on Hard booked demand and soft booked demand.

We are always looking at options for tools. We are not so deep into a tool that we couldn't switch –  former Planview user – but we like to keep it simple. Any recommendations on what to look for?

Ruth – KeyedIn offers the most amount of configuration that is OOTB it’s unbelievable! There is the opportunity to customize but the core functionality offers so much there is little need to. The closer to OOTB you stay, the simpler things are and the more benefit from the regular releases there is.

How do you ensure all your portfolio projects are consistently always in line with strategy and lower level projects? The three layers should be in sync.

Ruth – Using the core ‘Measures’ in KeyedIn allows you to weigh one project against another (and also against a program or portfolio) As long as you, as the PMO, are controlling the input and ensuring the project/program portfolio initiation is providing you with the core measure you will always have that baseline to measure against. You will also need leadership sponsorship on giving you the guidance of what the strategy is!

How on earth do I get my waterfall software team to agile while keeping work moving?

There are a number of recommendations I would suggest, here are a few to help you get started:

  • Get a trained Scrum Master!
  • Collaboration is the key.
  • Involve the team at every step.
  • Review all the tasks/workload
  • Prioritize these tasks against the Value they are bringing
  • Aligning with the Business stakeholders, understand and then focus on the tasks that bring the most value for the Business. (whats most important to them at that time)
  • Be transparent
  • Build the roadmap / plan together

I'm just curious as to how Agile Portfolio Management is truly different from any other portfolio management.

Ruth – The biggest difference we see is the senior leadership / stakeholder expectations management. There is some significant work that goes into the mindset change when agreeing that Agile is the best method of delivery for a particular Portfolio/ Program/Project/Product. Aligning that they will not receive the ‘End product’ fast, but will received an effect and efficient delivery cycle of the MVP is key to positive engagement and true adoption of the Role of the Sponsor/stakeholder. 

What are the best practices to remove the red tape in corporate organizations in order to move fast and agile?

Ruth – We have increased visibility and transparency using KeyedIn reporting. This visibility is not just on delivery but our process. By doing this, our departmental leadership team feel armed with the data they need to make key decisions about priorities etc. and this then feeds up to our senior stakeholders – CEO, COO, CFO. Expectation management is also key, and some significant work goes into this. We need to adapt the mindset to accept the differences when adopting an Agile delivery mode for a Portfolio/ Program/Project/Product. Aligning that expectation with understanding they will not receive the ‘end product’ fast but will received an effective and efficient delivery cycle of the MVP and they will be part of and have control of priorities and what’s up next. That core engagement from leadership is key to their adoption of the role of the sponsor/stakeholder.

Also, understand financial process and engage with your key Finance stakeholders. This core financial approval process must flow fluidly into the governance framework, to be able to reduce lost effort. It needs to work. Marry financial requirements with process requirements. Get Finance to sign up to the new delivery method and see where their role slots in and where their responsibilities lie.

How do you create trust from an old style organisation and jump several levels of management for a decision?

Ruth – Here at Office Depot, we have a short path to our senior leadership team. We have increased visibility and confidence through the use of KeyedIn reporting. This visibility is not just on delivery but process. Our departmental leadership team feel armed with the data they need to make key decisions about priority and that feeds up to our Senior Stakeholders – CIO, COO, CFO. By being open and collaborative, you will experience less resistance to change and much swifter adaption and in turn people will have confidence in PMO. Engaging with the key stakeholders and promote the Value PMO bring in a complementary way, ensures that middle management will not be put out when you reach to the top level for a decision. TOP TIP – having a senior stakeholder in Finance that support the value of PMO will make lives SO much easier!

What key measures do you have as standards on your agile PMO?

Ruth – So, with a collaborative effort between the Agile delivery teams, key leadership stakeholder and ourselves, we aligned on the core requirements, the basics that are needed. From the offset, we set clear understanding about what is different when utilizing Agile methodologies (Final article will not be completed but an MVP will be delivered each sprint/ Timelines are not measured / deliverables turn into a roadmap that is prioritized top down) and then building out collaboratively to drive positive adoption. Layering on reporting – clear roles and responsibly.

We measure from KeyedIn:

  • Resource Actuals vs Budget
  • Reporting cadence in line with Project Steer Co and release cycle
  • Risk & Issue Management
  • Roadmap deliverables 
In Jira:
  • Backlog Prioritisation
  • Burndown charts
  • Sprint review

What time horizon and level of granularity do you need for capacity planning to be able to plan and prioritise effectively?

Ruth – From a resourcing aspect, we plan on a 30/60/90 day rolling cycle with a high-level capacity model for a rolling 12months. Our Agile teams are initially set up based on the budget and with work with the PO and SM to monitor the burn down of the budget – Once the money has run out, the team will need to be dispended and the project closed, or a new project request /Change request submitted.

We work very closely with the Resource managers and project managers to ensure that we maintain our 30/60/90 planning view. 30 days we have 90% confidence of accuracy. 60 Days 50-89% accuracy, 90 days up to 49% accuracy. (We know things change quickly so have built in that adaptability within the resource management

Back to Mastering PMO Project Management.

Rachel Hentges
PMO Influencer
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Rachel Hentges

Rachel Hentges is challenging PMO leaders to think differently about their role. Rachel is the author of key industry related surveys, reports, blogs and more that challenge the status quo of today’s PMOs.