Dmitrii Ilenkov on The BEST Project Portfolio Management Show by Appfire episode 27

“What is P3.express and how can it help me manage projects more effectively?” Find out in this episode of Appfire Presents: The Best Project Portfolio Management Show by Appfire.

Project management expert and P3express.com founder Dmitrii Ilenkov joins Appfire’s Kerry O’Shea Gorgone to talk about the minimalist project management framework P3.express. Dmitrii explains the difference between existing project management approaches and P3.express, what using the system entails, and what it takes to get certified in P3.express as compared with pursuing PMP certification.

About the guest

Dmitrii Ilenkov is a project management practitioner with more than 10 years of experience. 

He’s lectured about project management for Finance University and the Higher School of Economics, and founded PMCLUB to support young project management professionals.

About the show

The BEST Project Portfolio Management Show by Appfire covers everything you ever wanted to know about PPM by talking with project management experts who’ve seen it all. And every episode is 10 minutes or less, so you can get back to changing the world, one project at a time.


For your convenience, here is the transcript of this episode:

What is P3.express and how can it help me manage projects more effectively?

Kerry:  Today we’re going to talk about the question what is P3 Express and how can it help me manage projects more effectively. To do that, we have Dmitrii Ilenkov, PMP, PhD, and managing partner of PM Club. He is also the owner at P3Express.com. We’re going to get into this new methodology. Stick around for 10 minutes of project management awesome.

Dmitrii, thanks so much for coming back. 

Dmitrii:  Thank you for having me.

Kerry:  What is P3 Express? I had not heard of it until you mentioned it. Is it another project management approach?

Dmitrii: Yes. It is another project management approach. It’s a very minimalistic and practical project management system.

Kerry:  What makes it different from the rest?

Dmitrii:  Simplicity. Somehow, in my opinion, something went terribly wrong. While more and more people become accidental project managers, like lawyers, accountants, designers, while it is easier to set up and start, so there are more people in need of something practical and affordable to launch their projects, to manage their projects, project management methodologies went the other way, they became more complex. 

With all due respect to existing methodologies, you cannot expect your team members or a junior project manager to comb through 600 or 700 pages. That’s not easy, that’s not what you can expect from your customer or from your team, but you want all of them to have an idea of what you are doing, in terms of managing the project. While the traditional methodologies became very complex, there is definitely a demand for something more simple, something more practical.

Kerry:  So, P3 Express is minimalist.

Dmitrii:  Absolutely. It’s 33 activities grouped into several activity groups. There are actual four documents in P3 Express, just four major documents. That sounds simple, right?

Kerry:  It does in theory, but what are the documents?

Dmitrii:  The project description, which would be a one-pager. The deliverables map, because you need to focus on deliverables, you need to know what you create. It has health register and follow-up register to weigh your risks, issues, change requests, lessons learned. 

Kerry:  This is new, right? I was like I haven’t heard of this, I must be really missing something, but P3 Express is pretty new.

Dmitrii:  Absolutely. It is pretty new, though in 2020 it was supported by the European Union. This year the P3 Express team also launched a certification program, so the certification program is even newer. It is more popular in Europe nowadays, but recently we launched a course on P3 Express and I see customers coming in from literally all over the world, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, Europe, US, Canada, so I hope it will become a big thing.

Kerry:  Is it easier to learn P3 Express than it is to learn agile methodologies or any of the other frameworks for project management, do you think?

Dmitrii:  Let’s put it like this. You know Excel, right? 

Kerry:  Yes.

Dmitrii:  And I’d guess you use it.

Kerry:  When I have to.

Dmitrii:  Imagine a world if you need to perform any calculations, that you need to write code, that you need to program in for everything. It would be tough, right? These methodologies are kind of tough. P3 Express is simple. Point the project manager and go on. 

The 33 activities are not the same as 49 processes or 33 processes. Some activities are really points like go / no go decisions. Other activities that just remind you what to do, like in daily cycles we have accept the deliverables activities because you need to be focused as a project manager to accept deliverables from your team. 

If you don’t mind, I’ll explain the whole concept.

Kerry:  I would like that. In context, are there certain kinds of projects for which this works better, or will this work for anything?

Dmitrii:  The idea is that it more or less fits most types of projects. In the beginning, you have a project initiation. You really do need project initiation, planning is important for agile projects and traditional projects.

Kerry:  Like a proper kickoff?

Dmitrii:  Yes. Then you have cycles. It sounds very agile, but actually it fits more traditional environments as well. You need some planning during the project, you need to control your project, so we have monthly cycles, we have weekly cycles, and we have daily cycles. After that, we have project closure. I actually love this part of P3 Express. Unfortunately, most project management methodologies, both agile and more traditional, somehow skip it.

Kerry:  They do.

Dmitrii:  It’s rather hard to handle with the product, it’s rather hard to archive all of the documents, and we tend to forget it because we’re always in a hurry. P3 Express recommends that you properly close the project. 

Then it has something that you haven’t seen in most methodologies that is called post-project activities. Sometimes we leave it out of the scope as project managers, like I’ve done my job, I’ve closed the project, but we do not undertake the projects to close them, we annotate projects to achieve some benefits for our organization and for our customers. That means that we need to somehow follow up, we need to measure those benefits, sometimes we need to take some extra actions to minimize the disbenefits we sometimes have and to exploit the benefits. That’s where our post-project activities really come in.

Kerry:  Are there types of teams for which this would work better, like a big team, small team, any particular size or industry or work type, or just this will work for everyone?

Dmitrii:  In my experience, I’ve seen and helped apply P3 Express in IT companies, in manufacturing, in healthcare, so it can be different industries. Probably it depends on the project complexity and scale. It has only four documents, and of course you can customize it. 

One more advantage of P3 Express is that it’s customizable. Actually, that’s the idea of P3 Express. You do not want to make your projects fit a methodology, you have to customize the framework so it fits the projects.

Kerry:  So, it’s doable with a small team?

Dmitrii:  It is very doable with a small team, yes. If your team is big, if your project is very complex and you need a lot of documentation, and there is some red tape in your company, then you can either customize P3 Express or start with another methodology which is more fit for it.

Kerry:  You can get certified, you mentioned. Easier or harder than becoming PMP certified? 

Dmitrii:  In terms of the complexity of the exam, it’s not really much easier. Those questions in the certification make you think. The questions in the PMP exam are more about your mindset.

Kerry:  How about in terms of cost, more expensive or less expensive?

Dmitrii:  It’s much more affordable, €160 for certification. Project management shouldn’t be a privilege. Project management should be another opportunity for people to grow, for companies to grow, for communities to grow. That’s why we want them to explore all of the benefits of high quality project management and make it simple.

Kerry:  Dmitrii, thank you so much for joining. If you’d like to get certified or check it out, go to P3Express.com. If you’d like more episodes of The Best Project Portfolio Management Show by Appfire, you can find those at Hub.Appfire.com. We’ll see you next time.

Last updated: 2022-06-26

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