There are some organisations that consistently deliver their portfolios of programmes and projects successfully on an ongoing basis. Why are they so successful and what sets them apart from the others? They know the formula. They know that by deliberately developing four crucial key areas, their success rate will increase tenfold.

What is this not so secret formula?

Make sure that you fine tune all of the below and you will see a significant difference in your success rate…

1. Process

‘How’ organisations do things makes the difference. The way in which programmes and projects are selected and delivered have been properly thought through and defined, using tried and tested approaches like MoP®, MSP® and PRINCE2®. When these approaches become part of the culture of an organisation it means that the organisation in question, has a bespoke framework of processes and templates already in place that are appropriate and adhered to by its people. They will work well together, are fit-for-purpose and easy to use.

2. People

People put the processes in place. When they select and deliver the organisation’s portfolios of programmes and projects, they do this in a strong and capable way. As such, roles are clearly defined and understood, and the individuals fulfilling each role have been trained appropriately to do the right tasks, at the right time.

3. Organisation

It is paramount to success for there to be an organisation structure in place that enables effective governance, assurance and support across portfolios, programmes and projects. This needs to be embedded within the organisation and its culture so there is the right level of support for the portfolio of programmes.

4. Technology

To do the job effectively an organisation needs the right tools. Robust software needs to be carefully selected and in place. Easy and efficient application is necessary for the organisation’s portfolio, programme and project management (P3M) framework.

The recipe for success is to make following these 4 key areas part of the framework of portfolio management. If any of these areas are not addressed, organisations will continue to struggle to gain the benefits (financial and otherwise) that they expect from the investments they make in their portfolios of programmes and projects.

Where to begin…

Says Adrian Shaw, lead P3M3® consultant at SPOCE:

When maturing organisations come to realise that they struggle to deliver projects or programmes effectively, there is generally a feeling of frustration. Why are the projects and programmes not what was expected? Why did they cost a lot more money and resource than expected and finish much later than they should? The framework may have been defined, but nobody is following it? Or the project or programme managers have been trained in an approach like PRINCE2® or MSP® but are working within an environment that is not set up to enable their skills to be applied? Or that there is tight monitoring of projects or programmes (especially spend against budgets) with ongoing disappointment at monthly status reviews or it may be that a project management software tool has been put in place, but it is not being used effectively?

Each one of these questions is an example of one of the four keys being place without the others, resulting in ineffective selection and delivery of an organisation’s portfolios of programmes and projects.

Where do we begin though I hear you ask?

The notion can feel like a daunting prospect and hence is often attempted in an ad-hoc, disorganised and lengthy manner. So how can this be avoided? The solution is an assessment such as P3M3®. P3M3® provides a measure of an organisation’s current portfolio, programme and project management (P3M) capabilities and can enable a vision and improvement plan to be created. Within a few days of effort, a certified assessor will be able to to evaluate the current levels of organisational capability In P3M3®.

So, what does P3M3® stand for?

P3M3® is an acronym for ‘Project, Programme and Portfolio Management Maturity Model’. The high- level structure of P3M3® consists of three ‘models’ and seven ‘perspectives’: Each model and perspective combination is evaluated, by scoring from 0 to 5, and then represented in a chart, for each of the three models. The results of the assessment provide a logical next step for an organisation so that they are better able to describe their vision and improve their organisational state. The vision is something that should be aspired to, that achieves agreed higher P3M3® levels.

A plan to achieve this over a realistic timescale should then be developed as part of an improvement project or programme.

About Adrian Shaw

Adrian Shaw developed his project management capabilities over 27 years within the automotive engineering industry where he implemented successful project management frameworks first at (Aston Martin) Tickford and later Cosworth Technology. Since 2007, Adrian has been providing consulting services to organisations (both public and private sector) across all business sectors, where he enjoys helping others to define and implement project management frameworks appropriate to their particular business and current maturity level. His clients have included Princes Ltd, 3UK and Allerdale Borough Council. Along the way, Adrian has acquired project management certifications (PRINCE2®, MSP®, MoP®, P3O®, MoR®, MoV®), and has also carried out formal P3M3® assessments, but is primarily a pragmatist. Adrian’s book “Simple Project Management for Businesses” published by Book Publishing Academy is available now.


SPOCE Project Management Limited is a global leader in delivering best practice training for project programme and risk management. They offer a wide range of courses which can be tailored to suit any form of training need. For example, public courses, virtual classroom, e-Learning and client workshops. SPOCE is the flagship training provider for PRINCE2 and MSP and were APMGs first ever training provider.

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