Managing Successful Programmes: setting the blueprint for a better future

Colleagues discussing the blueprints of a programme

The blueprint is one of the core elements of programme management and the Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) best practice guidance.

In essence, it captures the capability an organization wants to have by the end of a programme, with all its features and characteristics.

For example, that could be the organization’s service offering in five years’ time: which services to grow, which to let wither on the vine, and which will we start or stop. And once you’ve got clarity about the service offering, you can “look under the bonnet” and understand what’s needed to deliver these services?”. Capturing the capability gap between the current and future organization shapes the blueprint for how future operations will look.

By definition, the blueprint exists “to maintain focus on delivering the required transformation and business change”. The latest AXELOS template document for the blueprint – available alongside the entire set of templates via My MSP – is something you can share with business teams ahead of blueprint design workshops to show what good looks like.

Designing the programme blueprint

Organizations often don’t invest enough effort at the front end of a programme and underestimate the time and rigour needed for both setting the vision and designing the blueprint.

Sometimes, they dive straight into delivery mode without having a coherent view of the total capability needed. If they’re not careful, this can result in a misaligned and inefficient business model.

Therefore, the work that goes into designing the blueprint is fundamental to establish the foundation for a coherent future business model that considers processes, organization, technology and information as a cogent and holistic solution.  

The MSP blueprint template includes a number of questions in the “content checklist” that help achieve a coherent capability:

  1. How will you express visually the future state’s processes/business models?

For example, what is the organization’s existing process flow and how will it change in the future state? Would it help to have a diagram of systems, tools, how they fit together today and how they will transition to tomorrow’s solutions architecture?

  1. What changes are needed for organization structure, culture or style?

How will you articulate structural changes required to move from a product-focused organization to a service organization?

It’s necessary to convey what change will mean for people directly affected by answering the question for all stakeholder groups: “What’s in it for me?” This requires more of a storytelling approach as well as a visual aid like an organizational chart. This is why –alongside MSP – I tend to use John Kotter’s “Leading Change” approach that further supports creating a climate for change.

  1. What information is needed to manage future business operations effectively?

This is all about management information. For example, when going through digital transformation how will the organization integrate systems into a single source of truth that will bridge data silos and increase business intelligence? Which performance metrics will the organization use to measure its performance throughout transition to the future state e.g. key performance indicators, service level agreements? 

MSP and the blueprint for project managers

Project management is primarily focused on outputs. Therefore, having knowledge of MSP and the blueprint is useful to understand the wider business context for change.

The guidance helps project managers understand why you need line of sight from a project and its outputs, to the programme’s benefits, the organization’s strategic objectives and overall mission. Indeed, the work of projects should be integral to the programme blueprint and to organizations achieving their strategic objectives.

But aside from this enhanced understanding of change initiatives, it also provides promotion opportunities. Having MSP ensures you’re well-placed to take the next step in your career.

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