Like most people who have either project managed or worked within a project and have started their formal training typically starting with Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2®, I was no different. Working on my first ever business change project, the guidance was invaluable. Learning about the 7 principles, themes and processes and most importantly, how to appropriately tailor the methodology through the use of product descriptions to suit organizational policies and standards. It helped me understand how to direct, manage and deliver projects of any size and in any environment to effectively deliver what is required by appropriately managing the costs, timescales, quality (criteria), scope, risks and benefits.
Later as I began working on a transformational change programme, I endeavoured to learn as much as I possibly could. In doing so, I found a spare copy of the Managing Successful Programmes® guidance and started my programme management journey. What I recognized is that knowledge can be free if you have access to books and resources. Some of the best resources I found were the sample foundation and practitioner exam papers available from the AXELOS website that included questions from previous exams and rationale. The big takeaway from reading the guide was that Managing Successful Programmes is not “big” project management but a methodology to coordinate projects and/or activities to deliver organizational outcomes and benefits whilst remaining aligned to organizational strategies.
During this time, agile became all the rage so I furthered my agile qualifications and knowledge with PRINCE2 Agile®. What I learnt was how Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, project direction and project management layers can be blended with an Agile product delivery framework such as SCRUM, Kanban and LeanStartup. Most importantly, I learnt how the PRINCE2 Agile flexagon can be used to manage the project costs, timescales, quality (criteria), scope, risks and benefits in terms of what is fixed i.e. time and cost and what can be flexed with a focus on the five targets namely delivering on time.
With a few projects and programmes under my belt, I took a career change into the world of portfolio, programme and project offices as the opportunity arose. I wanted to share my best practice knowledge and experience to ensure programmes and projects are managed in the right way. The lightbulb moment finally came when I finally understood how the AXELOS guidance catalogue all interlinked. Particularly after undertaking both the Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (P3O®) and Management of Portfolios(MoP®) practitioner courses. The former showed me industry best practice to assess and re-energize a P3O with the design models, functions and services while the latter, and some of my favourite guidance to date, informed me about the continuous portfolio definition practices and the portfolio delivery practices and how they link to P3M3® assessments.
The final piece of the puzzle was undertaking ITIL® to learn more about service management but instead I learnt much more about how service strategy, service design, service transition, service operations and continual service improvement interconnects with the portfolio, programme and project management methodologies.
Benefit of hindsight!
For those about to embark on their project, programme and portfolio management training, consider starting in reverse order. Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, PRINCE2 Agile and Managing Successful Programmes makes more sense when you have a solid understanding of Management of Portfolios and knowledge of P3O functions and services. With my continuing professional development and digital badges, participation in the AXELOS community forums, I’ve come to realize that learning is not a linear process. It’s a continuous process of learning from different sources, mastering the content and pragmatically adapting to suit the characteristics of the organization, programme and/or project.