Looking for a Program Management Method? Consider MSP®.

For folks looking for a program management approach that successfully navigates them through the program life cycle while focusing on the program manager’s role in delivering measurable benefits to the business, let me recommend Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®).  MSP is a structured, non-proprietary program management method.  Based upon proven principles, MSP provides a road map for effective program management in any organization and for programs of many types.  This enables organizations to integrate the MSP method with their particular types of programs to build a flexible framework for successfully performing program work and gaining measurable benefits from business change.  MSP consists of three core concepts: principles, governance themes and processes. Let’s take a look at each area in more detail.

MSP is based upon a set of common-sense principles guiding the program manager and the business as they define and implement their programs to effect business change and realize business benefits from that change.  The 7 principles guiding the use of MSP are:

  1. Remaining aligned with corporate strategy
  2. Learning from experience
  3. Designing and delivering a coherent capability
  4. Adding value
  5. Focusing on benefits and threats to them
  6. Envisioning and communicating a better future
  7. Leading change

MSP uses nine governance themes to describe critical aspects of program management that must be addressed continuously and in parallel during your program. They address how programs are defined, measured and controlled in your organization.  Each theme focuses on a key part of the program management discipline.  Defining and managing all seven themes across the program life cycle is critical to achieving a successful outcome that delivers benefits and changes to the business.   The governance themes of MSP are:

  1. Vision
  2. Program Organization
  3. Quality and Assurance Management
  4. The Business Case
  5. Risks and Issue Management
  6. Planning and Control
  7. Blueprint Design and Delivery
  8. Benefits Management
  9. Leadership and Stakeholder Engagement

MSP uses its transformational flow to define the generic program lifecycle in an organization.  This flow provides the program manager with a step-wise progression through the program life cycle from a controlled start through a controlled middle and on to a controlled end.   Each step in this flow comes complete with recommended activities, products and the related responsibilities for “who does what when”. The 6 processes found in this flow are:

  1. Identifying a Program
  2. Defining a Program
  3. Delivering the Capability
  4. Realizing the Benefits
  5. Managing the Tranches
  6. Closing a Program

A copy of the MSP method is required reference material in any program manager’s bookshelf!  The method is documented in the publication “Managing Successful Programmes” which is officially published by The Stationary Office, or TSO.

Serious program managers seeking to enhance their knowledge, skills and professional credibility target should consider MSP certification.  Learning Tree offers two excellent certification courses for folks interested in becoming a certified practitioner of MSP . I am preparing to sit this certification myself in the very near future and enjoying my climb on the learning curve.  I think this will be an excellent complement to my PgMP certification from PMI.

Stay tuned as we take a more detailed look at the “nuts and bolts” of MSP in subsequent posts!

Susan Weese

*MSP® is a registered trade mark of the Cabinet Office.

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