Agile PMO in a leading online retailer

Our customer, a leading online retailer, approached Project One to help instil better portfolio level control across their product squad-based change delivery landscape. 


They had implemented Agile ways of working in previous years, and as often is the case in our experience, had removed too much of the change governance and delivery controls. Consequently, delivery certainty was negatively impacted, and the Exec team were getting uncomfortable with a lack of progress. 


The key to success in this situation was to retain the benefits of Agile delivery e.g. business-led change; regular value delivery, but to re-impose some of the more traditional levels of control to ensure increased visibility and certainty. It was also important to make the most of the Agile delivery toolset (Jira) that was already in place, to prevent any duplication on reporting. The additional challenge was to bring the delivery squads on the journey with us, so they did not see this as unnecessary bureaucracy slowing them down.  


The first step was to confirm what the real issues were, by meeting with the Exec team and key members of the delivery squads. The issues were distilled down into:  




  • Exec frustration that they can’t see what they are getting when  
  • Conflicting versions of the truth driving bad decisions.  




  • Gap between business strategy and what’s actually being delivered
  • Not doing the right things in the right order  
  • Finance lens of the world dominating over the wider business lens.  




  • Scrum teams hitting the buffers with inter-Tribe dependencies  
  • Too much happening and slow decision making  




  • Duplicated work  
  • Lack of join-up across scrum teams – comms / ways of working  
  • Unable to get the right skills deployed to the right work. 


“Thank you to Project One for enabling us to make great strides with the set-up of our PMO; it’s already bearing fruit.” CIO 


The next step was to define a high-level model to show how information and action should flow down from the Exec team and back up again, and how the delivery streams should be working together.  


We established a working group, bringing in the delivery leads and representatives from the finance, people, product and tech areas to then work through how to adapt ways of working and use of the Jira toolset to move towards this model. We made sure Project One’s role was one of facilitation and expert advice, with the customer teams driving activity and therefore building a real sense of ownership. This was critical to ensure the new ways of working would embed and endure. 


One of the key adaptations to the use of Jira was to introduce the ‘advanced roadmaps’ functionality. This allowed a roadmap to be built both top down and bottom up, using the delivery tribes delivery boards as the input and allowing ‘one version of the truth’ to be built up to Exec level.  


We established an Agile PMO team, with a lead and a couple of analysts to work across the delivery tribes and the product teams. This PMO team then adapted the existing governance groups and processes to be fit for purpose. This involved a monthly delivery forum to understand cross-tribe dependencies and blockers and take appropriate action, along with a monthly approvals board to monitor spend and value and approve additional spend required. 


The other key process that we introduced was quarterly planning, getting the delivery tribes together with the product leads to assess priorities for the next quarter and map out the roadmap, ensuring do-ability across tribes.


There is still work to be done, but great progress has been made, and the Exec team are now seeing much more visibility of the change portfolio, meaning they have more of the information they need to make decision on priorities and investment.  


The governance processes are up and running and the Agile PMO team is in place. In addition, we were able to help recruit in a permanent lead for this team.  


Most importantly, the delivery squads have come along the journey with the introduction of new ways of working and additional controls. The changes are being accepted and understood and the better prioritisation and resolution of dependencies is benefiting delivery

“Thank you for all your hard work on the project – we feel it has been a great success so far. It’s been wonderful to work alongside you these past few months.”

Head of CEO office

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