The Role of the Agile PMO in SAFe | Scaled Agile Framework - HotPMO (2023)

An enterprise-class company lives and dies on efficiency and agility. It's a single company with multiple teams, offices and divisions working together to create a profitable business that meets and exceeds your business objectives.

Organizations seeking efficiency often look to agile delivery approaches. They introduce Scrum to software delivery teams, often with a positive effect on delivery. But Scrum is designed for small groups, not large organizations. Any system that focuses on self-organizing teams and face-to-face conversations will have a hard time adapting to working in companies.

The problem of agile scalability

There have been several attempts to solve the problems associated with agility at scale. Methods such as Disciplined Agile (DA), Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), Nexus, and Scrum At Scale were developed to overcome the challenge of scaling.

SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) is one of the most widely adopted scaling frameworks. They have over 600,000 trained professionals worldwide and claim to have SAFe-certified professionals operating in 70% of Fortune 100 companies.

SAFe has a simple mission:to enable the business agility necessary for companies to compete and thrive in the digital age.

A Scaled Agile Framework helps streamline multiple teams using workflow patterns derived from agile, lean, and systems thinking approaches. We will examine the vital role that an Agile PMO (APMO) plays in the growth and development of a business using the Scaled Agile Framework.

The Fundamentals of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

SAFe was created by Dean Leffingwell and released in 2011. It has gone through numerous expansions and iterations since then. The current version is SAFe 5.0, released in early 2020.SAFe 5.0 is based on seven core competencies:

SAFe 5.0 seven core competencies

  • Liderazgo Lean-Agile
  • Team and Technical Agility
  • Agile delivery of products.
  • Delivery of corporate solutions.
  • Lean Portfolio Management
  • organizational agility
  • Continuous Learning Culture
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How does SAFe work?

SAFe 5.0 is a highly configurable framework that supports organizations on their Lean Enterprise and Business Agility journey. Using the most basic configuration: Essential SAFe, the focus is on developing a continuous delivery pipeline, where multiple software development teams align using a construct called the Agile Release Train, or ART. functions liketrain release engineerthey are entered to oversee the process and work closely with system architects and product management.

But SAFe is about much more than just lining up multiple Scrum teams. At the portfolio level, SAFe advocates alignment around value streams, not projects. This is a significant change for many project-focused organizations. SAFe provides many guidelines for taking an organization's strategic themes and translating them into a portfolio vision. From here, an accumulation is created at the portfolio level, with "reduced budgets" assigned to value streams. Governance is achieved through the use of 'guardrails', which encompass policies and practices for budgeting, spending and other controls.

If you're interested in aligning teams with the business in the most efficient way possible, while also budgeting effectively and developing an overview of how work flows in your organization, the Scaled Agile Framework is designed with you in mind.The Scaled Agile Framework helps maintain alignment, improves business collaboration, and helps tie the company's mission and strategy directly to work package delivery.

The Role of the Agile PMO in SAFe | Scaled Agile Framework - HotPMO (1)

Why an agile PMO is necessary for today's business world

We talked elsewhere on this site about the manydifferent acronyms used to describe PMO. The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®) attempts to differentiate the role of the PMO in a SAFe environment by calling it Agile PMO or APMO. They describe it as a team that works with other functions to deliver agile portfolio operations. Rather than view Agile PMO as a support function for project management, they advocate moving away from project management entirely and focusing on products and value streams. SAFe 5.0 defines three critical responsibilities for the APMO:

  • Coordinate value streams
  • Support for the execution of the program
  • Promotion of operational excellence

The role of a PMO is to ensure that procedures, operations, and practices are efficient, streamlined, and on budget. Today's global business climate is fast-paced, digital, and highly competitive. Businesses need to deliver high value to stakeholders. But the processes implemented by many PMOs are not customer-focused. That is, they are not defined with the business client in mind.The traditional method of running a PMO and projects relies heavily on functional silos and temporary staffing, up-front and top-down planning and budgeting for the year, and a centralized "funnel" for work input. Theythey require detailed business cases based on a speculated return on investment. In the absence of other metrics, success is often measured in terms of milestones and how many tasks were completed.

While this methodology was strong before the digital revolution and global business, it is not today. With more companies adopting a lean and agile approach, companies need a PMO that resonates with these values. The agile PMO blurs the lines between delivery and operations like never before, while leveraging your strengths in coordination, execution, and continuous improvement.

An agile PMO works with the business to ensure that people are organized into value streams and promotes a seamless workflow. The journey begins with investment strategy and financing to ensure everything is designed to achieve portfolio-wide objectives across teams and divisions. The OGP thenpromotes agile operations and utilizes decentralized program execution and operational superiority. Throughout the structure, APMO continues to oversee spending, audits, compliance, forecasting, and measurement.

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Lean Portfolio Management

Lean Portfolio Management is one of the seven competencies of the Scaled Agile Framework. It enables the alignment of strategy and execution by applying lean techniques and systems thinking approaches to investment, strategy, delivery, and governance. Lean Portfolio Management has three dimensions:

  1. Investment and Financing Strategy
  2. Agile portfolio operations
  3. lean governance
The Role of the Agile PMO in SAFe | Scaled Agile Framework - HotPMO (2)

In accordance withThis articleAt, APMO focuses on the Agile Portfolio Operations and Lean Governance dimensions. However, this is quite a narrow view, as many enterprise PMOs also play a role in supporting strategy and financing investments.

Investment and Financing Strategy

The Role of the Agile PMO in SAFe | Scaled Agile Framework - HotPMO (3)

In our Lean Portfolio world, funding is aligned with value streams. The focus is on creating and maintaining the solutions needed to meet business objectives. Achieving this requires a good understanding of the portfolio's business objectives and strategy, but also a good understanding of the current state of the portfolio and future operating models. For this reason, SAFe says that this dimension requires the active participation of executives, business owners, portfolio shareholders, technologists, and enterprise architects. The group works together to:

  • Connect portfolio to business strategy
  • Maintain a portfolio view
  • Realize portfolio vision through epics
  • Set tight budgets and safeguards
  • Set the Portfolio Flow.

Those who have studied Portfolio Offices in P30 and the Axelos Management of Portfolios pattern will find that much of this is familiar territory. In fact, it's worth noting that SAFe has done a good job of taking learning from a large church and putting it together into a cohesive structure. The PMO can play a vital role here, holding everyone involved in the investment strategy and financing dimension accountable, ensuring the process flows smoothly, communicating results and developing feedback loops.

Agile portfolio operations

The Role of the Agile PMO in SAFe | Scaled Agile Framework - HotPMO (4)

The Agile Portfolio Operations dimension focuses on:

  • Coordinate value streams
  • Support for the execution of the program
  • Promotion of operational excellence

In this dimension, the Agile PMO (APMO) works closely with the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE), communities of practice, and RTEs. APMO works to keep the portfolio in sync across multiple Agile Release Trains, sets objective metrics and reports. They must also cultivate and apply successful execution patterns across the portfolio: learning in one area and spreading it to others.

lean governance

The Role of the Agile PMO in SAFe | Scaled Agile Framework - HotPMO (5)

While governance can be seen as a dirty word to some agilists, it is an essential part of scaling. Lean Governance manages spend, forecast compliance, and measure spend. This third dimension focuses on:

  • Forecast and budget dynamically
  • Portfolio Performance Measurement
  • Coordinate ongoing compliance

As many equipment companies have discovered to their cost, it's relatively easy to speed up delivery by ignoring compliance with industry and regulatory standards. These gains are only short-term, and this approach can result in fines, reputational damage, injury, and death. So it's important that when we focus on workflow, we include audit and compliance throughout the workflow. This integrated approach reduces the risks of rework and legal exposure that result from trying to include compliance as an afterthought. You can learn more about compliance in SAFe environments in thisWhite paper.

A deeper look at agile PMO

Enterprise-level companies can handle billions of dollars in investments through multiple value streams. An agile PMO using a scaled agile framework ensures investments go to the right places to do the right things.

The goal is to know and understand the business goals and to ensure that the work required for those goals is funded. The PMO must understand the portfolio from the inside out and not only know its current state but also develop a plan to improve it. The PMO must anticipate issues and problems and adjust the portfolio plan when problems arise or the business context changes.

This is not just the job of the PMO. It includes leaders from all aspects of the project, including executives, stakeholders, architects, and technologists. Working with each group, the team ensures that the portfolio is connected to the company's strategy, creates a coherent vision for the portfolio, establishes budgets and safeguards, and develops the project flow.

Agile Release Trains and Solution Trains help create decentralized operations. Even with the Scaled Agile Framework, there has to be someone making sure those trains stay on track. The PMO makes sure they are aligned and working together.

The agile PMO works to develop a budgeting method that is more fluid than a long-term budget. They understand historical and projected costs for each solution, and budgets are adjusted every six months based on budget revisions.

The PMO helps determine portfolio performance metrics, including strategy implementation, spending, and expected results and timelines. These metrics are used for all areas of development, from research to marketing.

Once the budget, metrics, and project strategy are aligned, the agile PMO maintains constant vigilance to ensure all key performance indicators are met and all teams are working together effectively.

Many companies developing Scaled Agile Frameworks feel the need for an Agile Project Management Office to make the framework and their projects as efficient and profitable as possible. Structure can help drive strategy and performance, but there must be someone who can manipulate it and maintain order.

Agile PMOs are built for the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

If you think of the Scaled Agile Framework as a rail network, then Agile PMO is the driver. He keeps the trains running and makes sure everyone gets to their destination on time. Without the controller, the whole system stops.

At HotPMO, we understand the needs of companies and are experts in the Scaled Agile Framework. We work hard to support organizations implementing SAFe and building agile PMOs.

We can know and listen to your problems and challenges and help you solve them. We are continually developing our skills to address the most important issues facing businesses today.

If you are interested in learning more about our Agile Project Management Office or Scaled Agile Frameworks programs, please explore our website. If you have any questions, please contact us.

© SAFe y Scaled Agile Framework son marcas registradas de Scaled Agile, Inc.


What is the role of PMO in SAFe? ›

The role of a PMO is to make sure procedures, operations, and practices are efficient, streamlined, and on budget. Today's global business climate is fast-paced, digital, and highly competitive. Companies need to provide high value to stakeholders.

What is the role of PMO in agile delivery? ›

The PMO accompanies the process to ensure the necessary frame- work conditions. In such a scenario, the PMO provides added value, especially in sprint overlapping areas of governance, organization and communication. Agile transformation is characterized by flexibility and speed.

What is the role of a PMO in an organization that only uses Scrum for project delivery? ›

PMO Run scrum-of-scrum meetings with the Scrum Masters and Product Owners of multiple teams and resolve resource contention and priority issues. Also PMO can help implement and spread agile project management across the organization and tremendously influence the people to make effective Scrum transition.

What are three characteristics of an agile PMO? ›

The characteristics of an Agile PMO include: value-driven, invitation-oriented, and multidisciplinary.

What is the main role of a PMO? ›

An enterprise-level PMO is responsible for aligning project management tasks with the organization's overall strategy and goals. It oversees all program and project management responsibilities across the organization and ensures that projects and programs are aligned with the organization's overall strategy.

What is the role of the PMO? ›

A PMO (project management office) is an internal or external group that defines and maintains project management standards across an organization. PMOs are responsible for maintaining best practices and documenting project status and strategy in one place.

What is the difference between PMO and agile PMO? ›

Traditional PMOs are often led by a project manager who assigns tasks to team members and oversees the timely completion of all necessary milestones. Agile organizations do not need one person to manage an entire organization because initiatives are broken into smaller, easy-to-complete sprints.

Who is the head of Agile PMO? ›

Stefan Marsh - Head of Agile PMO - AXA Retail - AXA UK | LinkedIn.

What is the value of agile PMO? ›

An Agile PMO takes the most effective practices used in other projects and shares them across the organization. An Agile PMO is useful when an organization is doing a transition to an Agile approach, and particularly can play a crucial role if the organization is planning to undergo an Agile transformation.

What are the three roles of agile project management? ›

What are the three scrum roles? Scrum has three roles: product owner, scrum master, and the development team members.

What are the three types of PMO in project management? ›

Although there is no “one size fits all” PMO, Gartner has identified four types of PMOs.
  • The activist PMO. ...
  • The delivery PMO. ...
  • The compliance PMO. ...
  • The centralized PMO.

What is PMO in terms of project management? ›

A PMO, or project management office, is a specific group within an organization that provides project management support to projects. They ensure that best project management practices and standards are met, and help the company deliver maximum value through its projects.

What are different types and functions of PMO? ›

Identify 8 groups of functions based on 27 PMO functions:
  • Monitoring and controlling project performance.
  • Development of project management competencies and methodologies.
  • Multiproject management.
  • Strategic management.
  • Organizational learning.
  • Execute specialized tasks for project managers.
  • Manage customer interfaces.

What is agile PM practitioner? ›

The AgilePM® Practitioner qualification aims to demonstrate that you have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the Agile project management guidance to apply and tailor it to a given scenario.

Who should head of PMO report to? ›

perhaps the PMO should report directly to the CIO. Your company's IT projects, programs and portfolios should be aligning with the business needs etc, thus the CIO is accountable for the service delivery, thus justifying the PMO reporting directly to him.

Who heads a PMO? ›

What Is a PMO Lead? A PMO lead is a project management professional who is responsible for monitoring, reporting, and overseeing projects or accounts at a company or organization. A PMO lead works within the project management office (PMO) and provides guidance and support to executives, project managers, and staff.

What is the core value of PMO? ›

Some of the key values a PMO should promote are accountability to ensure flawless delivery of projects, a high level of responsibility through clearly defined responsibilities as well as consistency in the way projects procedures are implemented and projects are handled.

How can a PMO add value? ›

But, the following are a few common advantages of PMO in modern business.
  1. Enable Enterprise-Wide Visibility. ...
  2. Implement Best Industry Practices. ...
  3. Align Projects with Business Objectives. ...
  4. Reduce Project Resource Cost. ...
  5. Improve Billable or Strategic Resource Utilization. ...
  6. Improve Project Team Accountability.
Mar 24, 2023

What value does a PMO bring to an organization? ›

PMOs oversee project execution with a view to maintaining the quality of the deliverables. They take responsibility for the delivery of projects on behalf of the various business sponsors —through support to project managers in such areas as project selection, planning, and monitoring.

What are the 4 phases of agile project management methodology? ›

The five different phases of the Agile Project Management framework include the envision phase, the speculate phase, the explore phase, the adapt phase, and the close phase.

What are the three main agile frameworks? ›

What are examples of Agile frameworks? Scrum is the most common Agile framework. Others include the Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Crystal, and Feature-Driven Development (FDD).

What are the 4 Ps of PMO? ›

Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of the four P's of project management. To recap, it consists of People, Product, Process and Project. Without these four elements, project planning and execution will be impacted with roadblock issues and are less likley to meet their original goals.

What are the major components of a PMO? ›

There are seven primary components to any PMO, which grow in capability and complexity as the PMO takes on more strategic responsibilities.
  • Processes, Standards and Methodologies. ...
  • Project Managers. ...
  • Training/Professional Development. ...
  • Project Support. ...
  • Software Tools. ...
  • Mentoring and Coaching. ...
  • Portfolio Management.
Aug 16, 2012

What is PMO in Scrum? ›

The Project Management Office (PMO): Making Strategy a Reality with Scrum and Agile. Disruption is shaking up industries across sectors, spurring organizations to rethink their strategy and approach in order to remain competitive.

What is the Scrum methodology in PMO? ›

Scrum is one of the agile methodologies designed to guide teams in the iterative and incremental delivery of a product. Often referred to as “an agile project management framework,” its focus is on the use of an empirical process that allows teams to respond rapidly, efficiently, and effectively to change.

What is the role of PM in sprint planning? ›

Project Manager ensures the sprint of the project is completed on time. Motivating everyone to remain focused on reaching the goal. In a large agile project, challenges and issues create frustration among team members. Project manager motivates his team members to avoid any issues that degrade employees' performance.

What are the three types of PMO? ›

Different types of PMO

In order of least support to most support, the three general types of PMO are Supportive, Controlling and Directive.

What are the three stages of PMO? ›

The Five Stages of PMO Maturity
  • Level 1 - The Initial Process.
  • Level 2 - Structured Process and Standards.
  • Level 3 - Organizational Standards and Institutionalized Processes.
  • Level 4 - Managed Processes.
  • Level 5 - Optimizing the Process.
Jun 9, 2017

What is PMO process and methodology? ›

The PMO processes cover four major project phases that are devised and deployed by all project teams. The four phases are: initiation, planning, execution, and closing. Our PMO offers services that help organizations set up their own PMO departments.

What is project methodology in PMO? ›

A project management methodology is a set of principles, tools and techniques that are used to plan, execute and manage projects. Project management methodologies help project managers lead team members and manage work while facilitating team collaboration.

Does Scrum Master report to PMO? ›

The Scrum Master reports to a leader in the PMO. This was the model I was a part of when Scrum Masters reported to me in the past and this worked to some degree. This approach works best if the Agile transformation, practices, and evangelism are being driven by the PMO which does happen in some organizations.

Who runs sprint planning in agile? ›

A scrum master or coach typically facilitates sprint planning in order to ensure that the discussion is effective and that there is agreement to the sprint goal and that the appropriate product backlog items are included in the sprint backlog.

Who is responsible for sprint planning meeting? ›

The scrum master is responsible for making sure the meeting happens the timebox is understood.

How do you manage a PM team? ›

Managing Project Teams
  1. Establish a balanced team. ...
  2. Ensure clarity and 'buy in' to the project objectives. ...
  3. Ensure line management support. ...
  4. Establish a team code. ...
  5. Recognise the stages of team development. ...
  6. Use a facilitator for critical meetings. ...
  7. Use all internal and external networks. ...
  8. Communicate with key stakeholders.


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