Overview of P3O Process

Overview of P3O

What is P3O

P3O is a framework developed by the Office of Government Commerce, and stands for Portfolio, Programme and Project Office. Its aim is to provide best practice support across private and public organisations.

Designed to facilitate consistent change within an organisation, it offers joined-up support and universally accepted guidance or an organisation’s project portfolio.

The P3O can be one, or a series of linked offices that have strategic, challenge and assurance roles.

Why choose P3O?

P3O enables an organisation to do two things: validate that they are doing the right projects and verify that they are doing the projects right. Both are achieved by offering the right levels of support.

Putting P3O into place in your organisation will enable you to:

  • Successfully deliver business objectives by making informed decisions about aspects such as: strategy, risk management, resource optimisation and prioritisation of projects.
  • Use programmes to identify and realise business outcomes and benefits.
  • Deliver successful projects that meet quality standards, within an allocated time frame and on budget.

How to set up a P3O

There are three main sections.

Portfolio Office

Firstly, the portfolio office develops an overall view of the organisation’s portfolio. This should be realistic and supported by standard reporting mechanisms.

Centre of Excellence

The improvement of Portfolio, Programme, Project and Risk Management, known as P3RM, is supported by the Centre of Excellence through the management of knowledge, competency of staff, standards, education and assurance.

Programme and Project Offices

These offices are generally temporary set-ups that support specific programmes and projects. Once successful completion has been achieved, they are disbanded.

Benefits of P3O

Using the model will increase your organisation’s chances of delivering strategy, programmes and projects in a more cost effective way, whilst reducing benefits lost. This is achieved by:

  • Having a clear overview of the organisations business change portfolio.
  • Deciding which are the right programmes and projects to undertake.
  • Providing consistent standards and processes.
  • Independently overseeing, scrutinising and challenging projects and programmes to ensure they are being done correctly.
  • Building a team of competent staff by providing assurance, mentoring and coaching.
  • Having one single truth reporting system.
  • Improving the decision-making, accountability, transparency and visibility of the organisation.
  • Managing and executing change more effectively.
  • Creating value for money through the effective distribution of resources, protecting revenue and spend.

Disadvantages of P3O

As with any method, disadvantages of P3O have been reported.


Those who provide P3O guidance are required to undertake a course and examinations. P3O offers a foundation and practitioner level, but there is scepticism as to how useful the courses are and how applicable they are to those working within a P3O.

Lack of information

PMO professionals bemoan the lack of quality literature on the subject, feeling that the P3O guidance is too information heavy, rather than addressing the more practical details needed to set up the P3O.

Lack of success stories

Before investing time and money, organisations often want solid proof that something will work. Although examples of successful implementation exist it is felt that the success pre-dates P3O rather than coming directly from its launch.

The key to applying a successful P3O model is to scale it appropriately to your organisation’s size and type. This isn’t a one-size fits all type of model, but by applying the concepts you have a great deal to gain.