The Tri-Modal Reality

Gaining visibility across all project execution

Today’s work is executed using traditional, Agile, and back-of-the-napkin approaches, so PMOs must provide top-down governance & control to gain a 360°view across all work and allow teams to work in their tool of choice. That’s the Tri-Modal Reality.

The Tri-Modal Reality of work management

It’s a reality that most organizations now manage work using multiple methodologies. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and typically some combination of these approaches is typically used:

Traditional Waterfall Mode

The Waterfall method is a traditional linear approach to project management. Each phase in the project is worked on sequentially to completion before moving on to the next phase. This is historically the most common approach in most organizations. 


Agile Mode

Agile is a more recently developed form of work management. It uses an iterative approach that breaks down the project into shorter sprints that are worked on simultaneously. There are many frameworks, or flavors, of Agile project management, including Scrum, Kanban, Lean and more. 


Lightweight Work Management

Traditional and Agile camps make most of the noise, but there's a myriad of other adaptive project management approaches that we’ll call Back-of-the-Napkin. A list on a whiteboard, an excel spreadsheet, lightweight project tracking software and countless collaborative tools all can be used in conjunction with more formalized approaches.

The Bi-Modal Approach to managing work

The Gartner view of a bi-modal world of traditional waterfall or Agile is evolving into one which acknowledges that a wide variety of adaptive project management styles must now co-exist together. It’s a recognition that savvy organizations are embracing any work management style will help them drive transformation.

The PMO should have the capabilities to effectively manage and report on all areas of the organization, regardless of which project management style is being used. Strategic Portfolio Management is often the missing piece preventing organizations from moving beyond ust traditional and Agile to embrace any project management style that’s being used. 

Going beyond Bi-Modal to embrace the Tri-Modal Reality

In an ideal world, teams should be able to use whatever method they want to execute work. Attempting to force the entire enterprise to adopt 100% Agile makes about as much sense as trying to force all groups to adopt a traditional PPM process. Indeed, many teams are adopting alternative methods to either, and then incorporating bits and pieces of both. The key is right-sizing the governance so that no team is impaired from executing as they see fit, while still providing management with visibility into all that work.


Standardized, 360° view across all work aligns all execution & strategy

Projects across the enterprise being executed using multiple tools and methodologies need to be integrated with PPM and other enterprise systems as much as possible to ensure that the organization has a top-down, 360° view of all work. Which means you need to standardize with the right top-down controls across all work that give everyone the insight they need without impacting the teams working in their tool of choice.

Manage Work Effectively, Regardless of How it’s Executed


New tools are needed to deliver those missing portfolio management capabilities – seamlessly integrating standardization across whichever combination of execution tools teams decide to use. This provides Portfolio Managers with a more effective command center that enables them to manage all work – regardless of how it is executed – while providing the right governance, information and analysis the senior leadership requires. Best of all, the teams doing the work retain the flexibility and autonomy they need to execute in their methodology and tool of choice.