Setting Up a PMO – P3O or not?

The Portfolio, Programme and Project Office (P3O) has long been the go-to certification training for PMO practitioners. It came into the marketplace back in 2008 and back then it was a much-welcomed addition to the training options available for PMO practitioners.

The guidance, from the same stable as PRINCE2, MSP etc. It also follows a similar path to those in that the training course covers the textbook and the teaching has to stay very true to that textbook in order for learners to be able to pass the exams at the end of the course. Even though the P3O guidance got updated in 2013 by our very own Eileen Roden, learners who take the course today can often feel that something is missing because our businesses are changing and evolving and so do are the change parts of the business. For example, many PMOs today are supporting both Waterfall and Agile projects whilst back in 2013 that wasn’t the case.

In this article, we wanted to cover off the question we get asked a lot at PMO Learning, a question that now has a different answer since 2013.

If you’re about to set up a PMO, which course is the right one to do?

In 2020, you have now got three different options to consider. We’re going to look at P3O, AIPMO Practitioner and our own two-day course, Setting Up a PMO. In each, we will share with you the merits of each course.

P3O – 3 Days

✔ Good for getting a good understanding of the different types of PMO that can exist

✔ Covers why businesses have a PMO

✔ Gives considerations for how you would design a PMO

✔ Uses a Managing Successful Programmes approach to implement

✔ Has a great functions and services section – listing all the different offerings across all three levels of the PMO

You would choose this course to give a good introduction to PMOs and to gain a deeper level of knowledge and generate ideas to proceed

✘ This course doesn’t get into the how you set up a PMO from a practical sense

Recommended for:

🗹 Those fairly new to PMO (>2 years experience) who are looking to understand the bigger picture

🗹 Experienced PMO practitioners looking to add the certification to their career portfolio

🗹 Delivery professionals tasked with setting up a PMO for the first time.

>> Take a look at the P3O Foundation level course

AIPMO – Practitioner – 5 Days

✔ Uses a PMO Lifecycle to create a permanent PMO at a divisional level (for e.g., IT department)

✔ Gets into the detail of designing and piloting a PMO before the implementation of the PMO

✔ Practical details on operating the PMO – and includes the retiring or transformation of the PMO

✔ Covers wider PMO types such as strategies for enterprise-level PMOs

✔ A course rich in practical takeaways – models, frameworks, theories and research-based.

You would choose this course if you’re looking for in-depth knowledge and practical approaches to setting up a PMO

✘ This course doesn’t get into the details of the different functions and services – that’s covered at the Foundation level

Recommended for:

🗹 Working for a number of years within PMO and looking for the next step into management.

🗹 Consultants that are advising clients on the set up of PMOs.

🗹 Those already working at the PMO Manager level, looking to bring knowledge up to date.

🗹 Experienced delivery practitioners crossing into the PMO management role.

>> Take a look at the AIPMO-Practitioner level course

Setting Up a PMO – 2 Days

✔ Aimed at the Project Management Office level – the place to start when no PMO exists in the organisation.

✔ Uses a Roadmap approach which covers off the stages typically used in PMO consultancy.

✔ Includes practical resources on how to avoid the common pitfalls of jumping straight in with processes and templates!

✔ A really simple, straightforward approach that can be utilised for any size of PMO.

✔ Includes a delivery framework to help learners take a step-by-step approach

You would choose this course if you’ve been asked to set up a PMO and are tempted to start with the template approach!

✘ This course doesn’t cover enterprise-level PMOs, it’s focused on setting up a simple PMO model that works.

Recommended for:

🗹 Organisations with low project management maturity.

🗹 Anyone who has been asked to set up a PMO-type function for the first time (from very limited project management experience)

🗹 PMO consultants looking for a simple PMO set up roadmap and framework.

🗹 Delivery practitioners looking to understand more about the Project Management Office.

>> Take a look at the Setting Up a PMO course


PMO – in all its different forms, are the answer to the way an organisation is able to manage all the change activity that is happening within the business. This project management department (or however you want to call it) provides that supporting function in so many different ways. With businesses today now seeing more and more disruption to their business-as-usual activities – from regulation changes; technology advances; competitors; the global economy – business-as-usual is becoming more like ‘business-unusual’.

Where there is change happening, there will always be the need to keep our arms around it, not necessarily to control it but to be able to manage it without chaos reigning.

Step forward the PMO to play its part in managing change.

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