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Author  Eileen Roden – PMO and PPM Consultant

October 17, 2016 |

 4 min read

  • Blog
  • Governance
  • P3O

It is very easy to look at best practice and/or a number of existing Project Management Offices (PMOs) in your industry sector and decide on what functions and services are ‘best’ for your organization. However, a best practice PMO has a problem-focused purpose, with its functions and services aligned with the purpose, function and services of the other PMOs within the organization.

What’s the purpose of a PMO?

When organizations are investing in programmes and projects, there are often problems and challenges that need to be addressed. Senior management often have many questions that they require answering such as those in the business change governance model within Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (P3O®) best practice:

  1. How can we be sure that we are doing the right projects?
    A PMO looking to address this question may look at implementing appropriate project selection and prioritisation criteria that assesses contribution to strategy along with validation of business cases against the criteria
  2. How can we be sure we are doing the projects in the right way/in the right order?
    A PMO looking to address this question may look at implementing “what if” scenario planning across the portfolio along with functions and services to support the management of dependencies between delivery, deliverables, business changes and benefits across the projects and programmes
  3. How can we be sure we are delivering each project well - efficiently and effectively?
    A PMO looking to address this question may look at implementing appropriately tailored methods like PRINCE2® and Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) in a consistent way along with assurance services
  4. How can we be sure the projects deliver the benefits?
    A PMO looking to address this question may look at providing a benefits framework and support for the project and programme sponsors.

A best practice PMO designs and implements functions and services that address the current or prospective problem/question that is recognised and acknowledged within the organization. It’s about listening to decision makers in the organization and designing functions and services that are appropriate to the organization. Furthermore, it is incumbent on the PMO to demonstrate the value of the services is provides.

When is a PMO not a PMO? When it’s a P3O!

While “PMO” is the generally-used terminology in organizations to refer to either a project, programme or portfolio office, the term P3O refers to the integrated business model of all the PMOs in an organization.

While organizations may well have various PMOs that are successfully addressing the various questions that require addressing, without the integrated business model of a P3O effective organizational portfolio management will be difficult to achieve. A P3O ensures alignment of functions and services to the strategy and governance of the organization and works from a single source of the truth for decision-making.

Maintaining your best practice PMO

Organizations are not static; they will adapt and change to reflect the changing business environment and aspirations of senior management. This means the challenges and questions to be answered will also change. A best practice PMO keeps its eyes and ears open, looking and listening for the new challenges and questions to be answered along with continuous evaluation of the current functions and services provided by the PMO so they can be adapted as required. This may include stopping some services or introducing new services, with appropriately skilled resources.

AXELOS’ P3O best practice guidance helps organizations work through the business problems they’re trying to solve; ensure that the design of the functions and services takes into consideration the maturity of organization and other influencing factors such as culture, structure and level of sponsorship) and determines the value of the services to the organization.

See our P3O section for more information.

Read Eileen Roden's previous AXELOS blog post, Programmes: leadership and stakeholder management skills.