Portfolio Programme and Project Management Offices

C3P0? R2-D2? Why an efficient P3O® really isn't a galaxy far, far away.

P3O® - Not too dissimilar to the tall golden droid seen in those famous films. In fact, we have a client who's centralised support office is known as C-P3O (Corporate Portfolio, Programme and Project Office). I wonder when they will come up with a management approach based around R2-D2...

On first glance at P3O (Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices) you would be forgiven for thinking that the guidance is aimed at large complex organisations who are high up the PPM maturity ladder. The guidance talks about Portfolio Management, Programme Management, Project Management and an Office for each of these. The Offices can be temporary or permanent, centralised or de-centralised, physical or virtual. Perhaps formed as one corporate office, a hub-spoke formation, or perhaps a 4-4-2 with a sweeper!

Let's keep things simple for a few moments. If a centralised PMO or project office works for you, then it works for us too. SPOCE has been advising organisations for many years about the benefits of a central PMO that provides services to programmes and projects. Services that include maintaining standards; facilitating meetings; programme and project assurance; risk workshops; initiation workshops; health checks; stabilisation workshops. The list goes on.

P3O differs to this standard approach by interfacing with the decision makers at all three levels (Portfolio, Programme and Project).

  • At the portfolio level, decision support information is provided by way of management dashboards which can be used for prioritisation of strategic objectives and benefits.
  • At programme level, decision support information is provided (and collected) to support and endorse programme and project justification. Separate offices may be setup for a particular division, geographical location or a specific programme.
  • At project level, decision support information is provided (and collected) to and from the project boards and teams to enable decision making regarding outputs from the projects.
  • The traditional role of the PMO described previously exists within P3O in the guise of a Centre of Excellence (COE).


P3O isn't so much a case of "horses for courses" but rather "a horse for a course". In large organisations an office may exist in the central corporate function, and provide portfolio support, delivery and COE functions. Other large organisations may adopt decentralised offices based on geographical locations. For the smaller organisation, there may be one or two individuals who provide support to the company's senior management, along with support projects to ensure that standards (templates, etc) are maintained and used.

The implementation of a P3O model should be managed as a project. After all, it is a change to the organisation; there will be a defined budget, expected outcomes and a timescale for delivery. It should be handled as a change initiative; implemented in several steps or tranches; use existing standards and approaches where possible, while not conflicting or compromising the new standards; use familiar names of management procedures to provide familiarity, thus reducing the threat of rejection (e.g. the use of commonly known terms such as Risk Identification and Analysis (R2), Programme Definition and Project Definition (D2) "R2-D2"? Now there's a thought...!

If you are considering implementing or re-energising a P3O in your organisation, then these approaches, along with the expert help of SPOCE can really make the difference. SPOCE can help bring together the principles, processes and techniques to facilitate effective portfolio, programme and project management. Use of proven support structures, roles and responsibilities will bridge the gap between the process of developing the organisation's strategy and that of its delivery.

Back to P3O Training Page | P3O Course Dates | P3O Course Outlines

Project, Programme and Risk Management Best Practice– Video Bytes | SPOCE

Latest News

Latest Offers

Why Spoce?

Resources & Downloads

  • Evaluation Resources

    PRINCE2 eLearning, MSP Self-study, PM Guides, DSDM Passport...


  • Free Resources

    PRINCE2 Exam Simulation, Quick Reference Guide, Interactive MindMap, SPOCE Mini-Method, Risk Checklist ... PRINCE2 Business Case


>