Hybrid Delivery and the PMO
We kicked off a series of sessions which allow us to explore some of the most challenging areas for PMOs today. Earlier in 2022, we asked PMO practitioners, what is the most challenging area for you today.
Four themes emerged – they were benefits management, resource management, low maturity and hybrid delivery.
We decided to feature all four of these at the PMO Conference in 2022 – using boards at the conference to try and get deeper into each one of them.
This is the template we used [you can download a PDF version here]
The Summer Series is designed to be interactive, to gather people’s insights and to help us build up the board.
The ultimate objective is to gain some actionable insights – things that the House of PMO can further work on – whether that be further sessions or something more tangible like a White Paper for example.
You can listen to the session here and also see where we are with the board.
What’s the Real Challenge?
There was a lot of different views as to what the real challenge is – indeed what do we mean by hybrid delivery?
There were by and large three different perspectives:
- Hybrid delivery means that the PMO is now supporting teams that are choosing to delivery via Agile approaches / mindset. They are doing this whilst supporting teams who are delivering more traditionally (waterfall method) and they have some projects where there is a combination of different approaches – for example, the project is mainly waterfall however the software development side of the project is utilising Agile approaches. The challenge also comes from some low maturity too – organisations haven’t fully embraced the Agile mindset and are picking and choosing different elements.
- The PMO is supporting a diverse portfolio of programmes and projects – some are being delivered traditionally, some are more Agile in nature. The challenge is being able to provide an overview or report on what’s happening in terms of progress etc when different delivery methods produce different progress metrics.
- Some organisations have really embraced Agile – transforming the way they deliver change and looking to frameworks such as SAFe to help them deliver value. The transformation is still ongoing, not everything is working as it should yet which is presenting a challenge to the PMO as they try to provide support.
If you and your PMO is experiencing something fundamentally different to these, please do let us know in the comments.
Digging a little more into the insights:
- One of the challenges is focused around traditional delivery teams being wary and sceptical about Agile, “Agile is just Waterfall done right”. There is a relunctance to embrace a whole new culture and language and if feels like Agile is being billed as the silver bullet with no real evidence for it.
- For some organisations it has been accidential, they are picking up bits and pieces of Agile led approaches. For others it feels like their organisation is trying to go too fast (embedding Agile as an approach can take up to three years).
- Agile approaches are being used for every type of change – often it comes from uninformed decisions and announcements from senior executives.
- There are many different ways to deliver change – Agile and traditional are just two of them – good change/delivery practitioners are utlising different approaches using their own experience and professional judgement.
- Finding the right metrics and measures that will demonstrate progress and success is difficult – as is the executive reporting required. Comparable data is causing the PMO headaches`.
A lot of the session focused on the challenges – mainly because we wanted to hear all the different perspectives. We then had a look at dream outcomes so we could shift our thinking to the opposite side to challenges!
What would an ideal outcome look like? If we consider the different challenges, how can we switch those and start to find solutions.
There are a couple of things the PMO can consider.
- We need to understand what alternative ways there are to deliver change (not just projects), we have to educate ourselves first if we are ever to find ourselves in a situation where the organisation is asking the PMO for advice on which approach to take.
- If our organisations are serious about Agile transformation, again we have to educate ourselves in what that means and what support is required.
- The PMO has to be qualified – and has to enable the organisation to be qualified too – it is the capability development of teams that PMOs can assist with.
- We have to explore the concept of value and outcomes. All delivery activities have outcomes – generate some value (benefit) regardless of the way they are delivered. We can change metrics and measures, it requires some brain time to work it out but it can be done [see the heart which mentions OKRs, happiness quotient and measuring achievements]
- The PMO has to think about how governance can work better when change is being delivered – more governance and less control is likely to be the way forward – so a fresh look on accountabilities, responsibilies and how decisions get made is an area to be looked at.
- Cognitive load
- Delivering value, outcomes
What Haven’t You Tried Yet
If we consider what is stopping PMOs from doing better with hybrid delivery (in all its different perspectives) it comes down to three things.
- Senior executives – not having the support; having execs that are misinformed about what the different approaches are and what’s needed; not being able to influence them in any way.
- The PMO itself does not have the credibility across the different approaches – most PMOs today are still very traditionally focused
- The delivery teams within the organisation – including project and programme managers – are relunctant to change their own approaches and mindsets.
From the session we were able to think about what the PMO could be trying next. The suggestions are very much aligned to the blockers:
- Training required for relevant senior executives, delivery teams and the PMO – plus anyone else in the organsation
- Understanding and championing the different approaches – based on the training.
- Creating a space for innovation or experiments – testing out different approaches on a smaller, pilot scale before taking steps to roll out to the wider organisation (do this out of the full view/glare of the organisation)
- Influencing senior executives – even mentoring upwards.
A good piece of advice is to focus at the level above the delivery team. Delivery teams are supposed to be self-managing so let them do that [see the point about more governance, less control]. The PMO has work to do at that portfolio level, and its here where the PMO will be able to add value and usefulness to the organisation.
It’s clear that things are unclear about hybrid delivery and what the PMO’s role is in it. It means different things to different people and organisations. Crucially there is no one answer or school of thought that can help, there is no guidebook or Body of Knowledge to help.
This is one of those organisational problems that comes along which requires thought – new thinking, listening to opposing views and debate. For the PMO that means keeping up to date with what’s happening in terms of different delivery approaches and what those schools of thought are. It requires that the PMO understand it’s own organisation’s business – it’s culture, and be able to make informed decisions on where best to help and support.
The hybrid delivery challenge will continue and the House of PMO will continue to bring different sessions and people together so we can stay informed. We hope you will join us at future sessions which help us to continue understanding.
In the meantime, here’s some previous sessions we’ve run which touch on this theme. Hopefully you will find them useful and bring you up to date.