The adoption of agile ways of working has revolutionised the business landscape, enabling organisations to respond quickly to changing market demands and deliver value at a rapid pace. However, despite the benefits, post-implementation challenges often emerge, ranging from impacts as a result of changing lines of business to cross-domain enablement and governance gaps. We’ve been very vocal about the amount of time we spend talking about the ‘P’ in PMOs (Project Management Office’s) and the fact that there are so many variations of this. Due to the influence of major global Agile-based methodologies, many companies are now recognising the need for a Value Management Office (VMO) to address these gaps and shortfalls. Something which should have been considered during the design of agile ways of working to begin with. But like with every customer we speak to, its always an afterthought. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of focusing on the “how” of governance in an agile environment rather than fixating on the role of the governance function itself.

Navigating Change in Agile Environments

When organisations implement agile ways of working, they embark on a transformative journey that can impact various aspects of their operations. Lines of business may change, and business units may undergo significant transformations. While these changes are essential for adapting to the dynamic business landscape, they often lead to challenges in cross-domain enablement and governance.

The Role of the Value Management Office

Recognizing the need for a dedicated body to address these challenges (whatever you may call it), many companies are establishing a Value Management Office (VMO). The VMO focuses on aligning strategic objectives with agile execution, ensuring that the benefits and value of agile ways of working are realized throughout the organisation. By embracing a holistic view of governance, the VMO enables effective decision-making, risk management, and resource allocation to support agile initiatives. The problem is if you don’t change the focus on how the VMO or other function delivers, you will continue to face the same challenges as before your transformation.

Looking Beyond Traditional Governance

In traditional project management approaches, governance is often perceived as a bureaucratic burden, focusing on compliance and control. However, in the context of agile ways of working, governance needs to evolve. It should be seen as an enabler that provides guidance, transparency, and support to teams, empowering them to make informed decisions and deliver value.

Embracing Agile Governance

To successfully embrace agile governance, organisations need to shift their focus from the “what” to the “how.” It’s not about defining new governance structures or processes; rather, it’s about adapting and applying existing governance principles to the agile environment. Here are a few key considerations:

  1. Collaborative Decision-making: Governance should encourage collaboration and empower teams to make decisions collectively. This approach fosters ownership, accountability, and innovation while ensuring alignment with strategic objectives.
  2. Transparent Communication: Agile governance requires open and transparent communication channels. Information should flow freely, enabling stakeholders to stay informed, provide feedback, and make well-informed decisions in a timely manner.
  3. Adaptive Risk Management: Traditional risk management approaches often hinder agility, emphasising avoidance rather than embracing calculated risks. Agile governance should encourage a proactive and adaptive approach to risk, allowing for experimentation and learning while minimising potential negative impacts.
  4. Continuous Learning and Improvement: Agile governance thrives on a culture of continuous learning and improvement. By regularly evaluating outcomes, capturing lessons learned, and implementing iterative changes, organisations can enhance their governance practices and drive greater value.
  5. Establish a cross-functional Agile Governance Team: Create a dedicated team consisting of representatives from different business units, IT, and other relevant stakeholders. This team will be responsible for defining and implementing agile governance practices tailored to the organisation’s specific needs.
  6. Define Agile Governance Framework: Develop a comprehensive framework that outlines the governance principles, processes, and decision-making structures aligned with agile ways of working. This framework should promote collaboration, transparency, and adaptive risk management while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.
  7. Provide Agile Governance Training: Invest in training programs to educate employees at all levels about agile governance. Equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively navigate governance challenges in an agile environment. This will foster a common understanding and commitment to agile governance practices.

By implementing some of these recommendations, organisations can strengthen their agile governance capabilities, overcome implementation challenges, and ensure that governance practices align with the principles of agility. This will enable them to fully harness the benefits of agile ways of working and drive value across the organisation.

As organisations embrace agile ways of working, it is crucial to address the challenges that arise post-implementation. Establishing a Value Management Office can help bridge the gaps and ensure that the intended benefits of agile practices are realised. However, the true essence of agile governance lies not in redefining governance itself but in adapting and applying it effectively within an agile environment. By embracing collaborative decision-making, transparent communication, adaptive risk management, and a culture of continuous learning, organisations can leverage agile governance to navigate the complexities of a dynamic business landscape and drive sustainable success.

If in doubt, and need help figuring it out, speak to the leaders in Agile Governance, the Agile Management Office.

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