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Author  Allan Thomson – PPM Product Ambassador, Axelos

March 25, 2021 |

 3 min read

  • Blog
  • Change management
  • Portfolio management
  • P3O

Organizations today – faced with a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment need the ability to pivot confidently.

And to increase their chance of success and maximising the benefits of programmes and projects, they need to have the right governance in place. With finite budgets and resources, this is essential.

The P3O® (Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices) guidance links governance together to gain a “big picture” understanding of an entire organization and to ensure better decision making.

As P3O was created with the portfolio office at its heart, it gives portfolio practitioners and other change professionals the processes, role descriptions, functions, services and techniques to succeed.

If the organization was a human body, P3O is its spine – supporting the totality of what’s happening across the enterprise.

The risks that threaten successful organizational change

Major change in businesses brings opportunity but also its share of risks, such as:

  • Too many projects or programmes that prove difficult to organize and fail to deliver
  • Cost over-runs
  • Project duplication
  • Unnecessary pet projects
  • Poor decision making – either wrong, too slow or both

This means the portfolio office is under pressure to add value to an organization, which is where P3O comes in.

Managing programmes and projects strategically

The move since the Millennium to a more programme and project-based style of change in organizations has also demanded greater alignment with strategic, corporate objectives.

In turn, this needs a greater focus on governance – for example business change strategy, design, delivery – and understanding how well an organization can cope with change.

The introduction of P3O 2nd edition in 2013 has helped give organizations a focal point for defining change portfolios and ensuring consistent delivery of programmes and projects. Essentially, making sure the totality of change in the organization is properly balanced and supported by efficient decision making and deployment of resources across the organization.

Ultimately, this approach gives senior management greater confidence that they are investing in programmes and projects that will realize benefits on completion.

P3O benefits

What are the principal benefits in adopting P3O?

  • Strategic alignment – the portfolio office can ensure that change initiatives meet strategic objectives
  • Prioritization – preserves budget and removes unnecessary work (e.g. pet projects)
  • Risk management – guides how risk is managed throughout the organization and prevents costly overruns
  • Optimization of resources – increasingly important as organizations do more with less
  • Protects quality – by focusing on what needs to be done and what the customer requires
  • Tracking benefits – seeing that value feeds into the organization.

As an example of its benefits, AXELOS uses P3O to allow the PMO a robust review of business cases. In this way, the PMO can be confident before launching a programme or project that it’s both viable and achievable.

Who is P3O for?

As well as practitioners in the portfolio office, P3O is applicable to both programme and project managers; giving them a better understanding of how portfolios work and the mutual dependency between all change initiatives.

However, it also works for people in general management, to help them recognize what they need to do to produce value for their organization, be more effective and see how everything fits together.

As the spine holds the human body in place, P3O allows business leaders to manage the totality of the organization more effectively and get the best from implementing strategic change.