P3O stands for Portfolio, Programme and Projects Offices. P3O is universally applicable guidance published by the Office of Government Commerce, a department in the UK Government, to help organisations build support structures that enable the successful delivery of their portfolios of change programmes and projects. P3O describes the factors that influence designing and building the right structures to optimize:

  1. Senior management decision making: P3O informs senior management on decisions that include strategic alignment, prioritization, risk management and use of resources.
  2. Business outcomes and benefits: P3O ensures the identification and realization of business outcomes and benefits via programmes and projects.
  3. Delivery of project outputs: P3O plays an integral part in delivering projects within time, cost and quality constraints.

By bringing together a set of roles, processes, functions, services and techniques, P3O facilitates effective Portfolio, Programme and Projects management through its enablement, challenge and support structures. These structures bridge the gap between the strategy, the policy makers and the delivery arm of the organization.

The term P3O is used variously to describe the P3O Manual, the P3O accreditation programme and the P3O function operating within a business[1][2]

Overview of the P3O GuidanceEdit

P3O guidance covers:

  1. Introduction
  2. Why have a P3O?
  3. Designing a P3O model?
  4. How to implement or re-energise a P3O?
  5. How to operate a P3O - tools and techniques
  6. Appendix A: Roles and responsibilities
  7. Appendix B: Business case example
  8. Appendix C: Model tailoring-case studies
  9. Appendix D: Examples of tools and techniques
  10. Appendix E: P3M3 summary
  11. Appendix F: Functions and services

The guidance aligns itself to other OGC guidance such as, PRINCE2, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), and also Management of Portfolios (MoP)


There is a P3O certification scheme available from AXELOS. The scheme is administered by a number of Examination Institutes (EIs) accredited by AXELOS. The Examination Institutes in turn accredit a network of Accredited Training Organisations (ATOs), their trainers and their training material.

There are two levels of certification: Foundation and Practitioner. AXELOS has accredited a number of Examination Institutes (EIs) who then accredit a network of Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs), including their trainers and course material. The ATOs and accredited trainers offer P3O training courses and examinations.


The Foundation level shows that the certification holder can act as an informed member of a P3O. The examination focuses on the principles and terminology of the P3O guidance.[3]


The Practitioner level shows that the certification holder can manage or work in a component of a P3O.[4]

The standards for the practitioner level include;

  • Measure whether a candidate should manage or work in a component of a P3O
  • Show understanding of how to justify, build and manage a P3O. Specifically they need to demonstrate their ability to;
  • Define their business case to get senior management approval for a P3O
  • Build the right P3O model to adapt to the organisation’s needs, taking account of the organisation’s size and PPM maturity
  • Plan the implementation of a P3O
  • Use tools and techniques in running the P3O and shaping the portfolio of programmes and projects


  1. ^ http://www.majormilestones.nl/uploads/images/035_Download/110101%20Introduktie%20P30.pdf
  2. ^ OGC P3O Manual 2014 ISBN 9780113314225
  3. ^ http://www.arraspeople.co.uk/camel-blog/projectmanagement/pmo-watch-19-the-p3o-practitioner-level-accreditation/
  4. ^ http://www.arraspeople.co.uk/camel-blog/projectmanagement/pmo-watch-19-the-p3o-practitioner-level-accreditation/

External linksEdit