MSP and PRINCE2: structure and seeing change more clearly

PPM professionals sat round table in meeting room as one stands and draws attention to detail on documents in front of them

After 14 years’ working in project management-related roles in complex environments, Andrea Vecchi – now Head of PMO at solar power company, Sonnedix – was introduced to programme management. Here he recounts his learning and certification journey, including 12 months of studying and certifying in AXELOS best practice guidance.

When my employer decided to invest in upgrading its facilities across numerous countries, this change initiative needed an overall design and coordination to complement strategic, corporate objectives and specific projects.

Andreas VecchiFor the company – Berendsen, an international provider of textile, hygiene and facility services solutions – this constituted a transformation programme. And, it was the first time I consulted the AXELOS best practice, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®).

As a reference point, MSP was a “Eureka” moment which meant I could present the company’s owners with a proper programme brief, define a portfolio of projects that the board could see progressing while building a business case.

A transition of this scale needed governance and MSP offered the ability to translate company strategy into a programme of change.

A year of certifications

After leaving Berendsen, and based on my experience with MSP, I took the opportunity to certify in a number of AXELOS best practices; from PRINCE2® Foundation in December 2017 and PRINCE2 Practitioner the following February, to MSP and PRINCE2 Agile® in November 2018.

After already clocking up more than 15 years in project and transformation roles, what did I learn?

In PRINCE2, I found tools to develop a framework suitable to any organization. Its concepts of tailoring and attention to governance are right for companies going through a transition and which need to formalize the change process; especially when thinking about users and benefits, which is not dissimilar to a continuous improvement approach.

Once certified in MSP, I could see how well this best practice and PRINCE2 work together, especially in producing business cases and setting up the right level of governance.

For the past year – in my latest roles at Sonnedix, first as PMO manager and now Head of PMO – I’ve used MSP to set up governance and processes for deploying and cascading corporate strategy. This means we can assess if projects fit with the overall strategy, if the organization is delivering on board expectations and whether we are delivering value.

Projects and programmes – respecting the differences

While PRINCE2 and MSP are related certifications, it’s important to recognize that the change initiatives they support are different.

To be clear, a programme is not simply a group of projects. In fact, programmes are entities in themselves which influence the organization’s projects and steer those activities towards achieving the overall strategy.

A programme creates the link between a project board and the corporate board and prevents projects becoming isolated from the strategy, ensuring they remain in line with the business case and providing a better focus for the company’s resources.

For project management professionals wanting to move into programme management – as I did – it’s about learning to focus on how projects will ultimately deliver benefits to the organization, based on the corporate objectives. This a shift for project managers: thinking beyond a project itself to delivering organization-wide change.

With a formal method and structure such as PRINCE2 and MSP, it’s like being prescribed a new pair of glasses to help you see where you’re going.

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