Agile at Scale: Enhancing Portfolio Delivery within HM Government

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A HM Government client with a large focus on software development and integration across other departments required a more effective approach to delivery of their portfolio as well as to recognising their limited resources couldn’t do everything. MP were engaged to establish a best in class Lean Portfolio Management Office (LPMO) to establish and embed Scaled Agile operating principles, governance, ways of working and behaviours.  

To deal with conflicting priorities across large teams, MP utilised the LPMO to pro-actively drive synchronisation and alignment across the portfolio to ensure that the client was better equipped to prioritise and enhance delivery throughput and provide maximum ROI for tax payers.  

Challenge: Constrained Delivery Throughput

A central government department implemented a Scaled Agile methodology to deliver their Technology & Product change portfolio (c.£100m annual spend). Operating within their LPMO, a team of MP consultants enhanced agile ways of working and addressed a series of the clients most prominent delivery challenges. 

The government department was traditionally hierarchical and whilst agile behaviours were understood, in practice these needed to be embedded within the culture. There were still multiple levels of authority and decision making as well as a lack of understanding of the fundamental Agile principles which would benefit delivery.  

However, the biggest client challenge was around their poor delivery throughput, which was being caused by too much work in development (over 200 epics across 15 agile trains), over-development of products and an ineffective prioritisation of existing and/new work against delivery already in-flight.

Approach to prioritising maximum ROI

Solution: Prioritising for Maximum ROI

MP’s coaching capability proved to be a critical enabler of organisational improvement. By establishing a dedicated coaching team within the LPMO, MP was able to maximise the reach of Agile principles throughout the delivery model. The coaches delivered structured training, created reusable coaching materials and performed in-depth analysis and recommendations to the organisation’s ways of working. This resulted in a more mature approach to agile operations and further decentralisation of decision-making. 

MP’s Agile coaches conducted a comprehensive review of the delivery portfolio to assess its completeness and quality against industry best practices. Based on the findings, a series of enhancements were made to the portfolio delivery structure, and a prioritisation model and approach were introduced. This ensured that product and platform investments were aligned with strategic objectives and were mitigating risk. 

To maintain the prioritisation of new and existing delivery within the portfolio, a more structured synchronisation process was implemented. Teams were empowered to focus on priority work that returned value to the organisation. Central to the approach was a focus on developing to the minimal viable product and prioritising further development against new items in the backlog.  

Benefits: Improving Delivery Throughput & ROI for Customers

Through focusing on fundamental Agile principles and behaviours as well as a more systematic approach to prioritisation, the client was able to both reduce decision-making timelines and enhance the throughput of their portfolio. Some of the enablers included are: 

  • Business benefits more clearly articulated at the Epic level, allowing the organisation to understand what value they were receiving for their investment.
  • More effective delivery was enabled through the provision of a single “real time” view of priority to support decision making, consolidating / reducing work in progress and more clearly articulating acceptance criteria / definition of done. 
  • Better Governance & Control from a formalised process for managing, prioritising and synchronising the delivery of Epics through the delivery lifecycle.
The client ultimately improved their delivery throughput by 25% and were able to deliver an improved ROI for the taxpayer as well as provide valuable product enhancements for the organisation to utilise
Figure 2: Portfolio Prioritisation methodology


Whilst trying to deliver a broad range of strategic initiatives, priorities can become unclear and decisions slowed down. Through focusing on the right principles and implementing the right prioritisation framework, there are significant gains to be made. Our consultants at MP are skilled in working with our customers to design the right solution for the environment. In this case study, the team provided significant improvements, laying the foundations for the client team to move forward and improve iteratively into the future.  

This article was written by James Martin-Young, Head of Agile UK Practice. 

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