Standing up a Program Management Group (PMG) for the first time can be daunting. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO), a government agency, engaged ZXM’s agile coaches for a seamless transition to agile at scale across a large program of work.
A new program was set up with extremely tight timeframes for delivery. This was a project that had been attempted three times previously without success so the spotlight was on the new team leading this program of work. ZXM was engaged to assist a new branch within the ATO to stand up a Program Management Group (PMG) from scratch.
ZXM had been working as Enterprise level coaches across the organisation and was able to leverage learnings from programs that have been working in agile ways for 12-24 months and apply these to the new program group to accelerate their maturity to have a baseline of competence within 3-6 months.
The key to a successful outcome was a seamless sustainable approach, in line with the existing organisational agile operating model, ensuring minimal disruption to key business activities.
ZXM consultants provided coaching support and mentoring of key program level PMG staff and business stakeholders, to develop foundation knowledge in Agile and scaling and work with them to
align to the existing organisational frameworks and apply patterns within their context.
Standing anything up from scratch is hard, especially if you have not been exposed to it before. With the three PMG voting members identified, ZXM developed a transition roadmap to assist in an effortless transition. Prioritisation of features for delivery was critical to meet the tight timeframes and WSJF (weighted shortest job first) was implemented as the organisational preferred method of prioritisation at Program level.
To help upskill and build capability across the voting members, advisors and PMG support staff, ZXM ran a series of workshops including:
The PMG Scrum Master (SM) role was established, as the crucial support that the PMG needed, and a PMG charter was co-created and communicated to business stakeholders, teams and program staff at this point of time.
Once ZXM had established an overarching view of the process for the major participants it was time to introduce “how” a single prioritised backlog would be developed by the voting members. This consisted of one of ZXM’s agile coaches running a number of WSJF simulation workshops whereby “real world” organisational features were utilised. This enabled a rapid assimilation of concepts in a safe learning environment.
Prior to the first PMG meeting, ZXM assisted in preparing communiques and fielding questions to ensure that business and other stakeholders understood why and how the PMG would work.
ZXM utilized behavioral modeling and a ZXM coach co-facilitated the first few PMG meetings and provided feedback to the team on improvements and what was working well. By supporting the PMG Scrum Master and PMG voting members in such a way, business and
stakeholders knew what was expected of them, quality standards were inherently built in and process flows were established and maintained by all involved.
The learning curve for all was steep and the first few meetings were slow. However, by establishing a regular cadence and with the support of the ZXM agile coach; the stakeholders became comfortable with their roles and responsibilities and the throughput of the features soon picked up to a sustainable pace and met the definition of ready for the Delivery area planning meetings.
As a result of supporting and establishing the PMG, nine months into their journey the PMG went from a slow jog to a steady run;
In the future this will lead to the PMG’s seamless expansion as the organisation moves towards a product based model. A number of artefacts have been developed and learning from these have been shared across programs and through ATO’s Agile HQ coaching network to ensure other new programs can leverage off this experience and accelerate their own capability uplift.
Visibility of the whole pipeline in priority order across the program of work
Clear understanding of decision making responsibilities of PMG group and their alignment to Strategic Initiatives
PMG up and running within weeks by leverging experience and learning from approach from other program areas
To improve coordination of dependencies with external teams in different branches, the Nexus framework was able to scale to meet this need for end to end integration of delivery for organisation wide product initiatives.
After 12 months, CER had improved transparency of prioritised projects and improvements in collaboration with business stakeholders and was able to be more responsive to changes in business needs and changes in its regulatory domain.
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