Accreditation to Author

Emma Arnaz-Pemberton

Date Originally Published

27 August 2021

Originally Appeared In

Axelos Global Best Practice


AXELOS, P3M3 Maturity Assessments, Portfolio,

P3M3 and how organizations need to mature change capabilities

This past year has taught us that the world is truly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous – which makes it the perfect time to review an organization’s maturity for successful change.

Countless businesses have put change initiatives on hold and reviewed whether the strategy and portfolio are right for what people need.

Assuming the world won’t go backwards, you need to know your strengths, weaknesses and how to develop a roadmap for projects, programmes and portfolios.

Change is about managing challenges and opportunities for organizations – and show me an organization today that doesn’t need to change.

Working with organizational maturity

In the context of projects, programmes and portfolios, maturity is about how consistent an organization is in the way it thinks and operates.

Understanding maturity helps you see your current level of performance and where it could be if your organization adopted best practices. It also shows people the art of the possible and gives them something to strive for.

The Portfolio, Program and Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3®) offers a framework for organizations to assess present performance and improve management and delivery of change. Using the framework to assess maturity examines best practices but also the human element – the behaviours you expect to see. That could cover issues such as people unwilling to work in a team or the level of engagement and cooperation with a governance structure.

This depth of assessment goes far beyond the operational templates that would usually be reviewed.

Key areas for maturity review

Based on recent research and a host of P3M3 assessments we’ve done, there are several areas where organizations need to mature and embed best practice:

Risk management

Only one company I’ve seen had “pandemic” on its risk register. The general lack of preparedness meant that most organizations were faced with “going digital in a day”.

In fact, most organizations may create a risk log at the start of a project or programme but then leave it until something goes wrong – a classic tick-box exercise. Instead, they should understand the risks to the outcome and then plan around them; this is the strategic approach.

Following our maturity assessments, more companies are now using Management of Risk (M_o_R) to discuss risk and be honest about what’s keeping them up at night. In some cases, knowledge of risk should stop projects from happening altogether.

Change management

If organizations are running programmes, they will understand the concept of a change manager to introduce enterprise-wide change.

However, that doesn’t mean change management isn’t needed at project level. Often, project managers don’t see the need for it. Training people to deal with ambiguity helps them to be more resilient to change, whatever happens.

The principles in Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) give a broader view of how project and programme management affects people.

Agile working practices

The pace of change – in technology if nothing else – means that projects have had to adapt “on the go”.

Even for more traditional businesses, this means taking the best bits of Agile methods and applying them to the day job, e.g. having a 15-minute online meeting with the team every day.


Project and programme sponsors are rarely asked if they know how to do the job.

Some micro-manage while others sign the business case and are never seen again. Organizations have now realized that sponsors aren’t equipped to lead projects until they understand the expectations. And many leaders, equally, weren’t ready for leading teams virtually.

Senior people – generally – don’t like to be trained. So, instead, offering “sponsor familiarization” sessions can help them understand what’s needed from them in a project.


PMOs need to be OK with upskilling in new ways of working and ultimately creating a large toolbox to call on rather than saddling the organization with just one best practice.

Therefore, they need a working knowledge of what’s out there and what will help the organization to upskill. Using Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (P3O) will show them what is working in the organization and how to evolve the service catalogue.

Overall, now is a great time to rethink organizational maturity and for PMOs to review their offer, the value they add and to relaunch.