The basics

P3O®  (Portfolio,  Program  and Project Offices) is a decision enabling/delivery-support model for all business change within an organization, typically providing support through  a Portfolio Office, a Program  Management Office, a Project Support Office or any combination of these delivery support functions.


P3O (Portfolio, Program  and Project Offices) was published in 2008 by the UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC); it is now owned by the Cabinet Office, part of HM Government.

P3O offers guidance for setting up and running support offices, for all levels of change within an organization. It offers advice to organizations on current  best practice  thinking about what previously was referred  to as PSO (Program or Project Support Office) or PMO (Program or Project Management Office).

The main functions of a P3O/ PMO in an organization are to facilitate:

  • Informing senior management’s decision making on prioritization, risk management and development of resources across the organization to successfully deliver their business objectives (portfolio  management)
  • Identification  and realization of outcomes  and benefits through  programs  and projects
  • Delivery of programs  and projects within time, cost, quality and other  organizational constraints

As a decision enabling/delivery support model, P3O may be a single permanent office, e.g. Portfolio Office (strategically focused), a Strategy or Business Planning Unit, a Centre of Excellence,  or an Enterprise/Corporate Program Office. It may also be a linked set of offices e.g. Portfolio Office, Program  Offices and Project Offices; or it may be a permanent or temporary mix of central  and localized services.


Target audience

Portfolio managers,  senior managers,  program directors, consultants, portfolio-,  program-  or project- office managers who are involved in or responsible for optimizing, developing  or re-energizing  the organizational decision process to translate business strategy  effectively into concrete actions, programs  or projects.

Scope and constraints

The scope of the method is the support structures and processes  around strategic  change initiatives and their delivery via programs  and projects within organizations P3O is part of the Best Management Practice methods developed by the Cabinet Office. This means it is fully aligned with PRINCE2®, MSP® and MoP®.

The P3O guidance claims that the method can significantly increase an organization’s chances of successfully delivering its strategy,  reducing benefits lost and delivering programs  and projects more cost effectively. The approach  is fairly new and not yet widely adopted.

Want to know more?

See our books about P30.


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