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Home LIBRARY Articles P3O - Supporting Projects, Programmes and Portfolios

P3O - Supporting Projects, Programmes and Portfolios

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“Realizing strategy and performance through well run change AND optimizing your investments”

Trademark logo of OGC P3O subject

P3O® - Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices

Official P3O guide description at Best Management Practice

Where to buy the book:- Best Management Practice TSOshop
Where to get training:- Accredited training organisations
Special interest groups:- PMOSIG(UK group) PMOSIG(US group)

The official LINKEDIN brand logo LinkedIn groups: P3O PMO, Tools & Methodologies Prince2, MSP, PPM & P3O

Who will find this article useful?
  • Management boards
  • Business change directors
  • Strategic planning staff (organisation or division)
  • Programme organisation roles
  • Line of business managers with programme/project responsibilities
  • Programme and project management capability builders
  • Governance, scrutiny, risk and assurance managers


There are 2 imperatives for any organisation, be it a commercial business, public body or other collective endeavour:

1.       DO WHAT WE DO WELL – “meeting our mission” - this equates to optimizing and stabilizing operational performance in core day-to-day activities, line of business, or Business as Usual

2.       CHANGE WHAT WE DO“invest for the future” – creating future value through change; triggers for change come from varied sources but are typically, internal business change(transformation), infrastructure and enabling initiatives, as well as improvements in products and customer services

The reality for all organisations is the need to balance these often conflicting and competing imperatives – whilst ensuring that the set of changes in train and in the pipeline, the ‘Portfolio’, is optimal, desirable and achievable.

This is the focus of the practical and powerful concepts, models and detailed tools and techniques contained in the OGC’s P3O® guide. It has very broad appeal – it offers something for many different audiences – for example: strategic planners, business planning functionaries, organization management boards, divisional, sector or departmental managers and teams, programme organisations, operational managers responsible for change initiatives (projects etc.) and finally organisational development functions seeking people/team competence and optimal capability.

At its core P3O® aims to give an organisation the means to meet two top level requirements:-“Doing the right programmes and projects” AND “doing programmes and projects right (consistently and well)”.

It’s a buffet!

P3O® is NOT a rigid, process-driven method – in fact it is not a method at all. For me a good analogy is a ‘buffet’ table at a party. I can pick the things I want or like today to satisfy my hunger – maybe I’ll come back later for another nibble, or try something new.  Some buffet items I will never touch – the ones I just don’t like. Or worse, they may give me an allergic reaction so I will never go there!  So treating P3O® like a buffet and less like a set-menu will allow nearly everyone, regardless of context, situation or constraints, to maximise the value from their set of investments of programmes, projects and other changes without a large-scale, big-bang and costly set-up.

Let us take a brief peek into the contents and coverage of the P3O® guide to find out what is on offer in the ‘buffet’.

Well run change AND optimizing investments

The P3O® guide is written with 3 key purposes in mind:

  • DECISION ENABLING – strategic planning, portfolio support. The functions and services that allow appropriate management decisions to be made about an organisation’s constituent programmes, projects and other change initiatives, their oversight and escalation management
  • DELIVERY SUPPORT - supporting the delivery of programmes and projects. The functions and services that provide capacity, capability, facilitation, expertise or specialists when needed.
  • CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE – the building and maintenance of portfolio, programme and project management capability and competence. The functions and services providing standards – methods, tools, learning, training, coaching – and offering consulting, knowledge management and secretariat facilities.

Not everyone will want or need  to address each of these purposes – so again the ‘buffet’ analogy applies here, select the elements that work for your situation or context – I’ve briefly described the main sections of the P3O® book below so you can see what is included in this ‘buffet’

1.       Design considerations for an appropriate Office ‘model’ – serving the whole organisation or just one or some ‘divisions’, hub and spoke (consolidation and cascade arrangements), temporary (just for one programme/project), virtual vs. fixed infrastructure and a small organization deployment

2.       Tools and techniques repository – over 40 techniques and 9 techniques are identified (some explained in great detail) in the book, plus an online repository of others continuously updated

3.       Highly detailed catalogue of the ‘menu’ of Functions and Services that could be used in any model

4.       Description of responsibilities for various office models – good for determining job-content, competence and role filling

5.       Implementation approach – detailed guidance on setting up a permanent Office including business case guidance

For me the P3O® guide offers 2 key ways to improve organisations faced with multiple change initiatives:

  • Firstly - compelling, sensible and simple principles and supporting structures (office models and responsibilities) that are relevant to contemporary economic, political and organizational ‘norms’, issues and drivers
  • Secondly - a rich ‘menu’ of tools, techniques, functions and services – each simple but with

The first element gives me the rationale, credibility and insight to understand HOW my current organisation might be better served through improved decision making, delivery support and capability enabling measures

The second offers me a landscape of simple, tried and powerful methods to show me WHAT I can do to improve –whether this is for my ‘global’ organisation, my local set of initiatives or just one project or programme.

Linking guidance

P3O® is part of the OGC’s Best Management Practice library. This includes PRINCE2®, MSP®, MoR®, MoV® and MoP®.

The P3O® guide has been written to link well with the common terminology and concepts of these other guides. However, use or understanding of these related guides is not needed to make P3O® practices effective or beneficial.