Agile Project Governance

We headed over to Bristol last month, lovely weather to be tucked up inside learning about Agile Project Governance but definitely worth it.

There were so many little gems I took away and I know that other PMO Flashmobbers there on the night had a lot of their questions answered.

Essentially we were all there to find out what exactly changes when projects are being delivered in an Agile way – when compared to traditional projects. And if something changes what does the PMO have to know about – and what do they have to do about it?

Lean-Agile PMOWe had Jon Ward with us again and this time we got further into details about the role the Lean-Agile PMO. You can take a look at the sessions we did on the whole Agile PMO things – Lean-Agile PMO and Developing Your Skills for an Agile PMO are both good starting places. Take a look at the Inside PMO Report on the subject too.

Here’s some of the takeaways from me – a bit of a jumble but sometimes these sessions just spark off loads of different things going in different directions.

PMO Waste

The session opened up with the question about what does project governance mean in your organisation? and how does your PMO add value to this? Simple questions which could in fact be talked about all night – especially as anything related to value seems to be the thing these days (and rightly so).

It was Jon’s point about risk management that made me think about the first takeaway from the session. We do all these “rituals” around risk management – workshops, assessments, analytics, probabilities and so on – but do they actually reduce the risks?

That lead onto the whole ‘Agile is about value, delivering benefits’ and actually from a PMO point of view, if we take one thing away from the whole Lean-Agile PMO idea its do the rituals we do in PMO every day actually add any value?

Take it further, is there any waste that we can cut out – what do we do as a PMO that could just go?

Feet in Fire

Jon was talking about who was accountability for governance – who’s ultimately responsible for what? He talked about using RACI (if you’re not familiar, have a look) then “hold their feet in the fire”. I liked the mental picture, sometimes we need language like this rather than the boring project language we often use.

So who’s feet are you holding down in the flames?

Schroders AgileCoaching Cookbook

I never knew this was even a thing. It came from a point, Agile success is based on organisational learning. Organisational learning BTW is not lessons learnt – it’s about coaching. If you’re an Agile coach you have something called a coaching cookbook – it’s documents how things are run in the project. If the coach has to step out of the game for a while, the cookbook should be able to be picked up by someone else, and the team coaching carries on in the same way.

No need to scrabble about, working out what needs to happen and how – it’s there in the cookbook.

For the PMO there is a role there about coaching for compliance (rather than the Agile coach, coaching to go faster)

Coaching still feels like a step further away than where we are now. We do some teaching on processes perhaps, even mentor less experienced PMs – but are we ready and able to coach? Do we have the confidence and experience to coach?

Some Stuff to Look at

Jon mentioned a couple of things he likes and thinks a lot of. The first is the book by Gerald Bradley – Benefit Realisation Management: A Practical Guide to Achieving Benefits Through Change

Agile is obviously big on delivering value and benefits so he recommends this book to help you get up to speed.

In terms of risk management – he mentioned PRAM (Project Risk Analysis and Management) which is an older book from the APM archives – there’s an overview of 11 pages here to get you started on the basics. Sometimes all you need is something short and sweet to get you going before seeking out more advanced books and resources.

And here’s the checkpoint process document [download it]

That’s just a few of the things I picked up – loads more to discover and learn when you take a look at the video session and the slidedeck:




\\Download the session


Video Session


About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay is the founder of PMO Flashmob and a Director at PMO Learning - the sister company to PMO Flashmob and the best training company for PMO people in the world! She's also the creator of London's first dedicated PMO Conference; Director of Arras People and PMO enthusiast. Loves dogs and gin.


  1. Thanks for the interesting post and session on Agile Project governance. Good to hear that other PMO’s experience the same problems in Governance and Support. Often the PMO is seen as a source of problems rather than a proactive facilitator, Jon mentions material on check points, would it be possible to share this information.


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