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Book Club – Project, Programme and Portfolio Governance

Book club events take place after we’ve had a chance to hear from the author about their own books.
The month we take a look at the Project, Programme and Portfolio Governance (P3G) book which was published in June 2022, and we were joined by one of the co-authors, Ross Garland.
You can take a look at that session with Ross here. In that session he gave an overview of the ten principles of effective and efficient P3G.
In the book club we take a look at the different chapters and discuss parts of them. We also pull out the parts which we think are good things for the PMO to know about. Finally, we always ask – is it worth buying, borrowing or avoiding.

Recorded Session



Session Notes

We first talked about the whole concept of principles which could be useful to the PMO when thinking about their own processes and procedures. Perhaps we can be thinking about a principle-approach rather than a rules-based approach when working with Project Managers and their teams for example. You might be interested in the PMO Principles if you want to take your thinking further.
We pulled out three different principles to talk about during the session (which you can see in the notes below).
There were some new ideas to think about – especially around sponsors, business cases, who is involved in decision-making and who is defined as a decision-influencer rather than a decision-maker.
The group also pulled out their personal favourities which included the principle (no.4) about supporting the person accountable for a project or programme with a governance board. The conversation also included the remit of the PMO which is about “decision-support”.
Its a good question to think about for your PMO, “what services would we see that actually enable the PMO to support decision-making – so governance standards, data/reporting, assurance… what else?”


The final part of the session looked at some of the other parts of the book such as the roles and responsibilities, the part that addressed agile and other modes of delivery and the case studies.
Interesingly the PMO does not feature in the roles and responsibilities which we thought was a great oversight!
We also liked the addition of some of the behavioural aspects of governance such as bias – it covers where it might happen and how to overcome them. There is certainly a lot more on bias that you could be reading up on but this book has enough to get you started.
The case studies available are there to demonstrate how the principles are used in practice – rather than showing the realities and where things go wrong. The group thought that a deeper level of case study is needed which might show how others overcome common governance challenges.
Worth checking out is something called DECA – it means Delivery Environment Complexity Analysis.
The Delivery Environment Complexity Analytic (DECA) is a tool developed by the National Audit Office (NAO) to provide a high level overview of the challenges, complexity and risks to delivery of a project, programme, policy or area of work.
The 12 factors of DECA can be useful to develop a broad, high-level understanding of an organisation, for assessing the challenges surrounding the implementation of major projects. It is also a useful tool for wider strategic planning and checking whether risk registers appropriately capture and address these factors – which of course feeds into governance of projects, programmes and portfolios.
> Take a look

The Verdict

The session included a mix of people who had already bought the book following the session we ran with Ross. For others it was mainly a thumbs up – with one point raised which was the price of the book – £50 (which is in line with other good practice books like P3O etc)

Where to Buy It

You can purchase the book from TSO here – you can also gain 20% off as a House of PMO member with the code: PG20

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  1. AJVarey

    Hello – there doesn’t seem to be any sound on this video

    • Lindsay Scott

      Thanks for letting us know – we’ll get that fixed!

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