LACE & PMO - Do you need just one or both?

Eugene LaiWed, 03/18/2020 - 13:51

LACE & PMO - Do you need just one or both?

According to Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), the Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE) is a “small team of people dedicated to implementing the SAFe Lean-Agile way of working”. This team of leaders is responsible for a number of things related to an Agile transition, some of which include:

  1. Communicating the business need
  2. Developing the implementation plan
  3. Establishing metrics
  4. Conducting or coordinating training for executives, managers/leaders, and development teams
  5. Participating in critical events such as the Program Increment (PI) Planning and Inspect and Adapt (I&A)
  6. Promoting continuing Lean-Agile education

For comparison, let’s take a look at the responsibilities of a PMO (Program or Project Management Office):

  1. Establish standards for project/program tracking, including metrics
  2. Provide training and/or guidance on tools and processes
  3. Establish and support tools and usage standards
  4. Support portfolio management

Most organizations that have mature or complex project management practices will likely have a PMO in place. If this type of organization is seeking to adopt Agile practices, would a LACE be necessary, or could the PMO be reconfigured to fit the needs of this situation?

The answer is not a simple one to come up with, because there are many factors to consider. Below are a few things to explore before making this decision.

Factor 1 – What is the scope of the Agile adoption/transformation?

Is the organization looking to adopt Agile practices across the entire enterprise, or only a subset of the company (i.e. one program or a collection of projects)? If the former, a LACE will likely be a good investment to ensure proper focus is placed on the transition.

Factor 2 – What is the desired timeline for Agile adoption?

If the organization is in an experimental phase of adoption, it is possible to launch this pilot activity with the PMO or a small team; a LACE would likely not offer an immediate Return on Investment in the short term.

Factor 3 – Who is the champion driving the adoption of Agile?

This is somewhat related to the scope question mentioned above. The person who will sponsor and champion this change will likely impact the approach of the adoption. If the adoption is only targeted for a single program, the sponsor might be a Director-level executive, which means that a PMO should be able to provide sufficient support.

In summary, implementing Agile practices will require a strong commitment and significant investment in resources, which means it is important to spend your funding wisely. Considering the key factors prior to deciding on which governance structure to implement could make the difference between a successful rollout or a stagnated effort.