This is about understanding the past. It’s a case study, but it’s more than that. It’s about how we can better understand the past if we have a frame of reference.

The case study explains how a large company improved its project & portfolio management.

This multi-national organisation was structured as 7 business units. They had an ambitious change agenda. To deliver this huge amount of change, they needed to improve their project management.

They ran a 3-phase improvement initiative to improve project management

        ❑        Phase 1 introduced Prince2 project management, supported by heavy-duty EPM tools (Enterprise Project Management)

        ❑        Phase 2 measured regularly the improving maturity, by measuring the use of Prince2-based methods and the tools. With these measures, they found the weak spots, and took corrective action

        ❑        Phase 3 introduced portfolio reporting. It started once the level of maturity of Project Management was acceptable – it needed good quality project data as the starting point for consolidated portfolio reporting.

We can understand this case study in terms of P3O. That will be our frame of reference. P3O provides organisations with a top-down approach for improving their P3 (P3 stands for projects, programmes and portfolios). The O stands for Offices, so P3 + O gives P3O.

So let’s use the P3O framework. How does this case study look in P3O terms?

Retrospectively, we can detect the gradual construction of a P3O model, as the 3 phases advanced

        ❑        Phase 1. Local CoE functions were set up (Centres of Excellence) supporting the deployment of Prince2.

  1. The local CoEs
    • published standards, procedures, templates
    • provided training, coaching
    • ensured tool support

        ❑        Phase 2. A centralised the CoE function emerged. The local CoEs were merged into a single unified CoE.

  1. The central CoE
    • measured the maturity of Prince2 and tool using with a P3P3 approach (P3M3 is a maturity model)
    • provided an Information Portal with standards, procedures, templates, etc
    • continued to provide coaching to teams with low maturity

        ❑        Phase 3. A Portfolio Office structure was deployed, with a central Organisational Portfolio Office managed by a senior manager.

  1. Each Portfolio Office
    • introduced Portfolio Design – budget management, demand management, resource optimisation, portfolio optimisation
    • coordinated Portfolio Delivery – monitoring and control of projects, data consolidation, status reporting

This provided the foundations for solid Project Management.

We can see that the P3O support was a key enabler

        ❑        The P3O structure was a key enabler of for project management. Without support from the CoE structures, this major Prince2 and tools deployment would not have succeeded, and the high maturity levels in Project Management would not have been achieved.

        ❑        The P3O structure was also an essential enabler for Portfolio Management structure. Without the Portfolio Office, the ambitious work to structure Portfolio Management would not have progressed. It was beyond the reach of the business managers responsible for the portfolios – the support of the Portfolio Offices in the P3O model was vital.

By looking back at the past, we learn lessons by finding a good frame of reference.

Now look forward to the future. To improve your organisation’s project management, use a good frame of reference. Try using the P3O framework to map out the future.

Written by Jeff on January 17, 2012 in blog
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