Project Management is full of acronyms. PID, WBS, ROI… there are hundreds. Some of them help us, some of them confuse us.

P3M3 is a troublesome acronym that’s been around for a few years. Some people like it, some hate it, some don’t understand it. P3M3 is certainly not a good acronym, but don’t be put off. Take the time to understand it, and you will discover a useful tool-set that can help any organisation to measure its progress in Project Management and related areas.

Firstly, let’s decode the troublesome acronym. It’s a confusing acronym, because the acronym is not the sum of P3 + M3, as you might expect. No, P3M3 is the fusion of two other concepts, MM + P3M (but neither concept actually exists as a stand-alone acronym)

    1.    MM is about Maturity Models
    2.    P3M is  Project Management, Programme Management and Portfolio Management

So P3M3 is about measuring your team’s maturity to manage projects, programmes and portfolios

P3M3 comes from the UK, and belongs to same family as Prince2, MSP, MoP and P3O. If you are using one or more of these methods, then it will directly help your team to measure your progress; if you are not, then don’t worry, they are designed to be general purpose models, and you can still use these tools.

Let’s deal with the two parts separately

1) MM = Maturity models.

P3M3 is based on models, which help us to measure maturity. Each model tries to express one aspect of maturity. 

A maturity model attempts to measure your team’s maturity, on a scale from 1 to 5, based on defined best practice. It’s not just an arbitrary measurement, it’s a well designed model based on a set of criteria founded in proven best practice.

For example, P3M3 contains a maturity model for project management (called PjM3). This is based on a 360° set of measurements of project management maturity, using 7 dimensions such as financial management, risk management and resource management. This can be used by any team, whether it is using Prince2 or not. For the Prince2 community, there is dedicated model to measure the team’s ability to run better projects using Prince2. (This version is called P2MM).

2) P3M = the management of change initiatives (projects, programmes and portfolios)

P3 is a useful little acronym. It stands for Projects, Programmes and Portfolios. These are increasingly called “Change Initiatives”. They are three different ways of managing change.

Project Management has been around for years, and many organisations have reasonable maturity in project management. Programme Management is more recent, and Portfolio Management is the new arrival. All three are tools for change, to help the organisation to manage change efficiently and effectively.

So P3M is about management of change, and P3M3 is about measuring your organisation maturity to manage change.

Some organisations manage change well. They implement a strategy which changes the organisation. They innovate, adapt and survive. Their change management is effective.  When they invest in a project (or a programme or a portfolio), they can expect a good return on that investment.

So that is why P3M3 is so important. It measures your organisation’s ability to change. To innovate. To adapt. To survive.

Concretely, P3M3 drives improvement. It helps you to assess your maturity, objectively and with a structured 360° view. When you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can improve. If you know that, for example, your project financial management is fairly strong (say, level 3), but your project risk management is weak (level 1), you can launch some targeted improvements in risk management.

That’s a fast track to improvement. A fast track to better management of your projects, programmes and portfolios. Which means more efficient and more effective change management for your organisation.

That’s why P3M3 is so useful.

Written by Jeff on January 23, 2013 in blog
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