Building an AMO
Many organizations today are coming to the realization that they can leverage their expertise and historical knowledge for even greater value. They build PMO’s that serve as a center of project management excellence. The PMO can serve as the focal point for ensuring that projects are consistently managed and that the organization learns from past experience. In addition, by extending their oversight beyond projects that simply create the traditional products the company sells, a well developed PMO can act as the group that implements the strategic vision of the organization.
There’s tons of value already, but why stop there? The principles of a centralized group of expertise can certainly extend beyond project management practice. If your organization builds software that contains a significant amount of investment in architecture, design, or reusable functionality, the notion can be easily extended to the creation of an Architecture Management Office.
By analogy, the AMO could be constructed as a group of full time staff, charged with providing the focal point for the discipline of software architecture within the organization. Acting to ensure consistent deployment of architectural best-practices across projects, the group can serve as a clearing house for the use of appropriate patterns and frameworks, and as the hub for reuse between products. For enterprise applications that enjoy a long, growing life, the AMO can manage the strategic vision of how the product will grow to leverage evolving best-practices and technologies as they emerge.
If the organization chooses to join the growing movement towards offshore (or near-shore) outsourcing, the AMO still carries significant value. Traditional thinking of the relationship with outsourcing companies identifies the specification as the primary contract that binds the understanding of the two groups. As noted above, it can be reasonable to consider architecture as an internally managed asset at the same level as requirements, and to retain the development and evolution of this accordingly. This would allow you to build on your competitive strengths of a managed architecture, while leveraging the additional cost advantage associated with commoditizing the construction phase.
The notion of an AMO is a natural extension of the thinking that leads to creation of a PMO. The advantages to be gained through consistent strategic application of architectural principles and practices can be huge for many organizations, and an AMO can be seen as a valuable complement to a PMO for sustaining industry leadership. It’s surprising that Googling the term comes up empty… – JB