Wednesday, 6 May 2009

P3O demystified

Yesterday’s post talked about the connections between P3O, Yin and Yang. If you were left wondering “but what is this P3O thing, then?”, well, you shouldn’t feel alone. Read below for a quick Q&A session with our CEO Melanie Franklin; alternatively, you can listen to our podcasts.

What is P3O?

The term P3O is a play on three Ps (Portfolio, Programme and Project) and one O (Office). Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices are the support structures for Project Management, Programme Management and Portfolio Management.

P3O and P3M3

There is a benchmark for organisations that have a thorough understanding of how to approach Project Management, or have already implemented Programme Management. This benchmark is called “The Maturity Model”, and it helps organisations to understand how mature they are in their Project and Programme Management approaches, as well as to show them what they need to do next to carry on improving.

One of the Maturity Models that is sponsored by the Office of Government Commerce (owners of the PRINCE2®, MSP™ and M_o_R® methods) is called P3M3.

The three Ps stand for Project, Programme and Portfolio, and the three Ms stand for Management Maturity Model. So P3M3 is the Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Maturity Model. The Maturity Model has a number of key questions that an organisation should ask itself to see how well it is doing. One of the factors that has been identified for the organisations that really know their way around Project and Programme Management is the existence of some kind of centralised support structure – and this is the link between P3M3 (the Maturity Model) and P3O (the Support Offices).

Support Structures

There are three support structures: the Portfolio Office, the Programme Office and the Project Office.

Project Office: supports individual projects, often regarded as an administrative function that provides support to the project manager – on creating project plans, attending project meetings, chasing up individual team members on the project to make sure they have done their activities, collating information for progress report, sending that up to the project sponsor.

Programme Office: enables an organisation to support an individual programme, looks at templates of documentation for the projects within that programme, provides support across the projects within the programme, keeps the support at an overall level for the programme so that the programme manager knows, at anyone time, what is happening with all of the projects within a specific programme.

Portfolio Office: a more strategic function as it supports the portfolio of programmes and projects within an organisation. It escalates information about the progress of a specific portfolio and it double checks the direction of that portfolio against the overall strategic direction of the organisation.

Level of Bureaucracy

To avoid an overly bureaucratic approach, it is important that organisations understand what these different levels of support offer them – the advantages and the disadvantages – and select a structure that is right for them.

Level of Authority

One of the key things that an organisation has to do, whether it sets up a portfolio, programme or project office, is to ensure that those providing the support are actually empowered to do so – and this is not just about administration, but assurance services, spotting issues, looking for risks, escalating that information up to the next level of authority. Therefore the project, or programme, or portfolio office has to have the endorsement of senior managers.

P3O Official Site

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