Inside P3O – Why PMO Practitioners Take the Training


Back in 2008 the PMO community here in the UK saw a new guidance emerge which was focused on Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (P3O). It was seen as a great step forward in giving PMOs more exposure within the programme and project management world. The guidance, since 2008, has already been refreshed and updated (that author, Eileen Roden will be speaking at The PMO Conference). Over the last seven years PMO practitioners have also chosen to undertake the accompanying training and examinations.

We caught up with PMO Conference exhibitor SPOCE who are the only exhibitor at the conference who provide P3O training (amongst other courses, more on that later) so if you have specific questions you can drop by the stand at the conference and get some answers. In the meantime we had some questions of our own.

We wanted to find out more about who choose this PM course, what specifically they are interested in and what benefits they have obtained from taking part in the course.

So why do PMO practitioners opt for the P3O course? Is it for development purposes? Do organisations prefer their PMO practitioners to have P3O? Do practitioners do it for the personal challenge?

Lead trainer, Graham Shreeve filled us in.

“The majority of delegates want to improve their skills and competencies so they are able to provide a higher value and quality service to their customers (users / stakeholders). They do tend to be seasoned PMO practitioners and we see people from all over the world, representing all kinds of organisations from large and small organisations in both the public and private sector as well as not for profit and charities. It is pretty diverse.”

In terms of the typical PMO practitioner profile, delegates see themselves as supporting their organisation in delivering complex changes at a portfolio as well as individual change initiative level. This has led to more and more attendees being interested in the portfolio office model and how P3O integrates with Management of Portfolios (MoP), which provides a very pragmatic approach to support the senior management team decision making.

PMO practitioners take P3O training for a number of different reasons. We wanted to know which part of the P3O course they particularly find interesting and useful back in the office.

“The area of the guidance that concentrates on PMO maturity and the relationship to the organisation’s own maturity levels particularly strikes a chord. Determining their level of P3M3 capability that the guidance offers, this powerful discovery, diagnostic and base lining tool helps practitioners to frame their PMO services against organisational maturity levels.”

Designing the governance arrangements / frameworks of the PMO and Target Operating models (Blueprints) for their offices is also another area which gets the thumbs up. Given that implementing a P3O model has significant organisational implications, P3O helps PMO practitioners to see where those implications and challenges may lie. PMO practitioners specifically enjoy practical activities in P3O training and the analysis of user requirements and the design of the P3O target operating model (Blueprint) are both areas where practitioners can roll their sleeves up and take part in scenarios and real world activities.

Networking is also a big deal to PMO practitioners – just like The PMO Conference – they also welcome the opportunity to share their own insights and practices with other likeminded professionals. It can help to know that the challenges you face are also being experienced by others or a more positive spin, it’s nice to know that your own PMO is looking healthy against other PMO examples.

So is P3O something you would look to undertake as a PMO practitioner?

Well it certainly offers a straight forward approach to designing and implementing a comprehensive PPM and PMO infrastructure that that can make a real difference in delivering change in an organisation. It is useful to any PMO practitioner regardless of the level they work at in their PMOs because it is crucial that wider knowledge of what PMOs are there to do is understood by everyone who works within them.

You don’t need to be designing or managing a PMO to get something out of the P3O course. In fact it can be used in many ways such as a self-consulting framework, a design, build and implement approach, bench-marking and gap-analysis – process re-engineering project.

Even at a more basic junior level, P3O shows what services are expected at each level – portfolio, programme or project. In fact, speak to any PMO practitioner with experience of P3O and they’ll tell you it’s Appendix D, the services menu that becomes the well-thumbed part long after the training course has finished.

Undertaking P3O is also a sign of your own commitment to your career. If you work within a PMO, P3O is the only accredited course that exists today which is directly related to PMO.

With P3O being part of the AXELOS suite of best practice guidance which includes firm favourite PRINCE2, P3O is seen as a pre-requisite to other accreditations. For a PMO practitioner, follow on courses such as Management of Portfolios (MoP) and Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) dovetail well with P3O knowledge which is why we often see PMO professionals today with this training profile.

At The PMO Conference we’ll be hearing about P3O in a session called P3O and Beyond which will take a look at where next for P3O and the accredited practitioners.

In the meantime Graham shares his insights about the conference agenda. He has been in and around for PMOs for years and he’s particularly looking forward to The PMO Conference too. He says:

“This conference is long overdue; we will be surrounded by likeminded colleagues as well world class practitioners”

He’s particularly looking forward to hearing from Craig Kilford. “Craig’s input into P3O and MoP is substantive, his insights and presentation style always prompts a reaction, he gives a view of the future that PMO’s should aspire to be become.” Terry Doescher’s keynote presentation has also caught his eye, “Terry’s extensive practice in Portfolio Management is firmly grounded and deals with the issues that PMOs as well as leaders in organisations need to face up to – that ‘doing the wrong change’ and not ‘doing the change right’ are the worst possible positions a PMO can be in.” It’s going to be a great day of learning.

SPOCE-P3O-TrainingIf you want to take a more detailed look at P3O and see what the best practice guidance and training are all about, visit SPOCE’s P3O pages.


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