P3O Examined - What Does it Mean for your PPSO?

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Posted by APM on 20th Mar 2009

P3O Portfolio, Programme and Project Office The New Guidance
Wednesday 18th March 2009 Birmingham Area Venue: Aston Lakeside

In the Spring 2009 PPSOSIG (Programme and Project Support Office Specialist Interest Group) conference, delegates were invited to learn more about the P3O guidance; the reality of using the new P3O guidance; the opportunity to understand more about Portfolio Management and its links to P3O; become familiar with the new P3O accreditation and understand more about how P3O will work for them, their PMO and their organisation.

The 18th March was a beautiful Spring day in Birmingham and over 100 programme and project office professionals gathered to learn more about one of the biggest changes in their profession for almost a decade; the introduction of the P3O guidance

Read on to find out more about the conference and view the presentations and outputs from interactive sessions.

Opening the Spring 2009 conference Chris Walters

Chris is the Chairman of the PPSOSIG and gave an opening presentation for the day

Welcome to the Spring 2009 PPSO SIG Conference.

To set the scene for today, Id like to take you on a tour through the ages of project management with an emphasis on PPSOs. This represents the gospel according to OGC, but there are similar journeys in the APM, PMI, IPMA and other versions of this great story.

Project management officially started, with apologies to the gospel according to Wikipedia, in the 1950s. Obviously no projects existed before then, so its not really clear how ancient civilisations managed to build pyramids, ships, the railways, in fact anything at all. The history books are full of the heroes of these endeavours, such as Brunel, Tutankhamun, and Telford. One would like to hope that it was the back office functions of these endeavours that made sure that stuff got built, that things got done.

In the late 1960s the PMI and IPMA were formed to further the profession of project management, and not long after that, we started to see methodologies, which were set up to ensure that with scarce resource and huge complexity, the world of projects started to make big and expensive (and in those dark days, physically dangerous) mistakes less of a regular occurrence. Planning offices were the engine for large projects during those times, and you can imagine legions of mathematicians manually calculating critical paths, hoardes of draughtsmen sweating over blueprints, and far too many quantity surveyors and time and motion managers checking on progress. They were the project offices of yesterday, and projects could not survive without them.

In the 1970s and 80s, the new discipline of Information Technology burst on to the scene, bringing with it development methodologies such as SSADM. Civil Engineering techniques were adopted for planning IT projects, and we soon started to see project offices set up to help deliver such complex projects. Just like civil engineering projects, these IT PSOs started to own parts of the projects such as configuration management, testing, quality and they became integral to project success.

I mentioned the M word twice now lets delve a little into the world of methodologies and PPSOs.

PRINCE2

Prior was PROMPTII created in 1975 in the private sector and adopted by CCTA in 1979 specifically for IT projects
PROMPTII became Prince in 1989 still absolutely focussed on delivering IT projects.
Methodology formerly know as PRINCE became Prince2 in 1996
Launched 1996 to genericise the method away from being IT-specific
2005 refresh
2009 refresh in the process of being written by Andy Murray, who outlined the changes at the last PPSO SIG conference In Prince 2 we got a role description covering PSOs thats all!
MSP

1999
Second edition 2003
Refresh 2008
Previously in MSP, we got a whole section, that gave a few hints as to what was happening wider in our profession
ISEB

David Marsh books published in around 2000 with the first training events starting in 2001. These dealt with the mechanics of supporting projects and programmes.
As a result of attending the first courses, and wanting to create a networking group the PPSO SIG held its first conference on 3rd December 2001
The OGC Centres of Excellence guidance spawned another Marsh and Wilkin book in 2006, talking more about setting up your PSO / PMO and just touching on the areas that had not been discussed before.
Since 2001, the PPSO SIG has looked at topics asked for by its members, and has found that the issues dearest to your hearts are not fully covered in any books and this is where we pick up the story today!
PPSO SIG
If youve been to a PPSO SIG conference before, welcome back! If you havent been before, its great to see you, and I hope well see you back at a future conference. What you get from todays conference is only limited by the energy you put in your willingness to share your experiences, your eagerness to understand new concepts and your ability to interact with each other. We have 100+ PPSO experts in the room today, from hugely diverse backgrounds maybe one of the biggest focused gathering of PPSO experts ever in the UK. Your challenge is to share and learn. Coming back to todays topic, the historical lack of coverage and guidance given to PPSOs has received a massive boost in the last 6 months a full rewrite of the OGC portfolio that mentions P3O all over the place. Id like to hand you over now to the lady whos been right at the centre of those revisions, and has written us our own little book and given us a great topic for our conference today Sue Vowler, from Project Angels

Introducing P3O Sue Vowler

Sue kick started her presentation by telling the delegates about the journey she has been on , from the initial invitation from OGC (Office of Government Commerce) to get involved with the new guidance that covers Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (P3O). Sue had never been involved in anything else like this before and relished the challenge of bringing together all the information that was out there (and crucially not just existing guidance from OGC).

Sue covered what exists today in terms of guidance i.e., PRINCE2, MSP etc and what specifically is new along with P3O. Portfolio Management specifically is an area which is also pretty new in the world of programme and project management and is particularly prominence in P3O hence the Portfolio part of the title!

Sues planning included a brainstorm of the potential questions that people will need answers for, and interestingly Sue talked about banning the word support from the P3O vocabulary because of the images this conjures up of the types of people and services the PMO provides. Sue says she wanted to banish the emotional baggage that PMOs have accumulated over the years.

Sue covered at a high level the contents of the guidance and talked about how parts of the P3O guidance cover the specifics of establishing a P3O for the first time, how putting a number of people in a room and calling them the new P3O isnt good enough anymore. Sue talked about some of the feedback she has received from readers of the new guidance, many have purchased the guidance for the details around some of the service offerings and descriptions, details we know many previous delegates of PPSOSIG conferences have been waiting for.

Sue started to cover the chapters of the guidance, the second chapter is specifically of interest to delegates who may have struggled in the past to sell the benefits of the PMO to the organisation, answering the question why have a P3O?. Sue style is very engaging, especially when she spoke about the ludicrous notion of organisations that are engaged in big change, with big invested that still dont have a team that provide the vital information, tracked changes and ensuring benefits are delivered. Sue has certainly been living and breathing this for a few years and her passion comes across strongly and engagingly.

Sue covers the Organisation Portfolio Office Model, the three areas of the Portfolio Office the portfolio functions, delivery functions and centre of excellence functions. With the portfolio functions, Sue asked the audience how many currently provide management dashboard reporting (specifically to senior management), only around 15% of the audience currently provide this kind of service. Sue talked about the good portfolio office being worth their weight in gold, especially if they are providing analysed information, and solutions for resolving issues.

Getting further into the chapters, the functions and services start to be broken down in terms of portfolio office, project and programme delivery support and centre of excellence, for example, planning is covered from a portfolio view, programme and project view and also CoE view.
In terms of portfolio office, the presentation talks about the helicopter vision/view which is an interesting analogy for portfolio offices (hovering outside the glass walled office, peering in and seeing all the programmes and projects on the different floors, being able to see this project being delivered late or this project is almost complete) This is the view that no-one else in the organisation normally gets to see and without portfolio offices how do organisations know what is happening across their entire business.

Importantly again there is a focus on the benefits of each of the three elements (portfolio, programme/project delivery and CoE). In previous conferences the PPSOSIG has looked at the benefits of a PMO to your organisation and how these benefits can be sold to the organisation. Dipping into the P3O guidance certainly gives readers a head start on what are some of the key benefits are, and which ones can be easily applied to your organisation regardless of the business you work within. Examples included reduced start up / mobilisation timescales, and Sue talked about how Vodafone have been able to drastically reduce the time their projects and programmes have been kicked off and into delivery (some from 6 months to just 6 weeks) by a well developed and facilitated service from the portfolio office.

Sue also covered the potential barriers to success, for example resistance to change and lack of trained staff. Trained staff is an issue for many, for example some organisations see the programme or project office has a dumping ground for any old administration staff.
Key messages from Sue certainly look familiar for many of the delegates and again Sue reiterated her point that people who work within the P3O field should really aspire to the senior ranks of the P3O rather than the roles of programme or project manager due to the different skillsets and experiences required to head up a successful P3O

> See the presentation from Sue Vowler, Lead Author for P3O (large PDF file)

Question Time: Using P3O The Reality

John Zachar host
Sarah Branwhite Dockland Light Railway, Panelist
Ian Shaw, Ericsson, Panelist

In this sessions, questions are put to our panellists, Sarah and Ian, about their experiences with P3O. The first question for Sarah:

What has been your involvement during the creation of P3O?

Initially attended the Best Practice Conference in 2006 to see what existed already for PPSOs, from there I approached the OGC to register interest and in October 2006 was invited to take part in the scoping meeting and then in 2007 the group reconvened to flesh out what the book would do. In 2008 I also took part in the review

For Ian How have you used P3O since its publication?

The organisation is currently working on a strategic initiative of World Class Programme and Project Management and all elements need to support this. P3O is the first comprehensive professional guidance available around the types of offices, best practice etc. Weve used P3O as a validation process for the work weve already carried out over the last 9-12 months (work carried out before the publication of P3O). Sarah also answered, We used Chapter 5 (How to operate a P3O tools and techniques) to revalidate what our portfolio office does. We provide adhoc project support, programme / portfolio risk / cost analysis, management dashboards, upwards reporting and advice on project priorities / resourcing. Weve also shifted some responsibilities back to the Programme Managers, risk for example.

What two or three things you would recommend our delegates took away from the P3O guidance?

Its an easy guidance to dip in and out of, you dont need to read it from cover to cover has it has some great lists. In fact, the guidance doesnt have all the answers but Appendix F (Functions and Services) is definitely the most read part of it.

The panel agree that the guidance is equally applicable to both public and private sector. An interesting point raised was that the P3O guidance was particularly useful for ensuring there are no blurred lines between what services on offer from the P3O and what the programme / project managers are responsible for. Services and functions can be established by the P3O, based on real business benefits and not become a dumping ground for the things programme and project managers dont want to do. The P3O guidance is a framework, not a methodology, in fact its the start of a body of knowledge.

Why are you both working in a PPSO organisation what draws you to and holds you in this career path?

From Sarah, an opportunity to be nosey! Its also the involvement with programmes and projects but ultimately not having the responsibility for delivery. I get the opportunity to shape how the organisation delivers its projects and due to the portfolio office, the projects that are delivered.

P3O is the least developed areas of programme and project management, and this gives our panellists a buzz, its up to a small handful of people who work in this field today to change the perceptions of what the P3O can do and how they do it. We have a great opportunity!

With the implementation of P3O in your organisations, what lessons have you learnt?

Lessons learnt from the panellists; the P3O definitely needs to the match the organisations maturity! Senior managers across the organisation need to have a clear and consistent view of what the P3O does, and that means going beyond the business case or blueprint of the P3O. You need to be prepared to get out there and talk to your major stakeholders and deliver the message personally. The services that the P3O offers also needs to be continually assessed (especially in the early days) to ensure they remain current, useful, relevant and valuable. Lessons learnt also included thinking about the business as usual functions, specifically about the services that the P3O can offer to these areas of the business, for example, thinking about post delivery of projects at initiation stage and does the project business case take into account what is needed to maintain the change in the longer term for the business.

In terms of sizes, panellists varied, one works within a P3O of 4 supporting a 150 million project delivery budget and the other a team of 40, which includes P3O services for a host of external clients. In the team of 4, the previous careers of 2 included stints as programme manager and project manager. Their model works well in terms of being able to challenge and interrogate information due to the skillsets of the members of their P3O team.

How have you established your PPSOs credibility in the eyes of the rest of the organisation?

Ian said Our PPSO has to be seen to provide and lead governance. The message of value adding organisation NOT overhead is a strong message to deliver. Weve also led development of best practice , making the processes consistent and repeatable. For Sarah, were seen as the conscience of the organisation, staffed with seasoned professionals who are all ex-PMs or Programme Managers so we understand how projects work. Were also a single source of truth, which has helped us gain credibility.

There followed a number of questions from the audience, delving into the details about areas such as tools used, any KPIs used, the career path in the PPSO and more.

Interactive sessions networking
Lain Burgos-Lovece host

The interactive sessions provided a structured approach to networking for the delegates. Each table was hosted by a facilitator and given a number of questions of which they had to choose one which most appealed to their table for further discussion.

The tables were invited to discuss and debate the various chosen questions, offering insight and opinions on what each delegate currently does within their own organisations. The outcome to the interactive sessions was to ensure delegates had the opportunity to discover how others deal with certain aspects of P3O within other organisations whilst at the same time offering up key points or takeaways for the whole of the delegates attending the conference.

Here are the key points from the tables during the two interactive sessions;

> Outcomes to the interactive sessions (PDF)

Portfolio Guidance
Craig Kilford Portfolio Management will not work without board involvement end of story! Craig Kilford is the author of the new Portfolio Management guidance from OGC. A lively and passionate presentation from Craig. You cant have portfolio management without a P3O, it doesnt happen, the mechanism has to be there

The Portfolio Management guidance is currently available as a public consultation draft document, available for download for free. Craigs presentation covered the links to P3O as well as the new P3M3 guidance which is also available to download (see the links at the top of the page for further information). The Portfolio Management guidance certainly gave delegates food for thought and is certainly a must for anyone looking at Portfolio Management and Portfolio Offices within their organisations now.

> See the presentation from Craig Kilford, Author of Portfolio Management

P3O Training The Inside Story
Alan Ferguson
Not much of the slide presentation was seen during Alans presentation on the P3O Foundation training. The presentation proved to be a controverisal one for the delegates and we suspect it will be a hot topic as P3O gains more recognition. In our next conference we will be looking in more detail at the training on offer especially as the future of a P3O Practitioner level examination looks unclear at this moment in time and the professional PPSO community wants more that just a PRINCE2 Foundation style accreditation.

> See the presentation from Alan Ferguson, MD of AFA

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