What is P3O?

Within the PMO industry, the term P3O is one you will undoubtedly be unable to avoid. You’ve probably read it, heard it referenced in conversation, and have probably used it yourself – but what does it actually mean?

It’s not a number 30, which it often gets referred to. P3O stands for Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices.

To get a better understanding of the concept of P3O, let’s break down the definitions provided by the P3O Best Practice Manual of Portfolio, Programme and Project.

  • Project – A temporary organisation that is created for the purpose of delivering business products according to an agreed business case
  • Programme – A temporary, flexible organization created to co-ordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of a set of related projects and activities in order to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the organizations strategic objectives.
  • Portfolio – The totality of an organization’s investment (or segment thereof) in the changes required to achieve its strategic objectives.

Given these three definitions, we can gather a better understanding of what P3O actually is.

The P3O is a model that sits within the organisational structure to provide decision-enabling and support for all business change within an organisation.

It is pivotal to understand the P3O is decision-enabling and NOT decision-making; they help to provide information to the relevant bodies that make decisions but do not make these choices for them.

The P3O offers various services and functions in order to support this business change, and it is imperative that it integrates with upstanding governance arrangements and wider functions within the business, for example, Finance, or HR.

One of the most important aspects of a P3O is that is it tailored to an organisation, meaning no two P3Os will look the same. There may be single, multiple, permanent and even temporary P3Os, depending on the specific needs of the business.

Once you have established a strong understanding of the definitions of Portfolio, Programme and Project, it can help you establish an understanding of some of the key services and functions of a P3O, and how they can be undertaken within an organisation.

If you’re looking to learn more about P3O – an overview of the P3O model, the reasons behind a P3O, the functions and services of a P3O, the tools, techniques and responsibilities required, and much more, why not join us on our P3O Foundation courses – now with three great learning options!

Our virtual classroom courses led by P3O author Eileen Roden, Distance-Learning if you’re a more independent learner, or our brand new eLearning option which gives you great flexibility with a more structured learning approach!

P3O® is a registered trademark of AXELOS

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