Sue Taylor examines the importance of the blueprint in programmes and within AXELOS’ Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) best practice guidance.
By implementing change through a programme, an organization is trying to achieve a better future.
That starts with a programme vision; a high-level picture of what the future looks like and why change is needed. Through the programme the vision acts as a beacon to keep the work relevant and aligned and can be used as a tool to validate major decisions. But, as the vision is defined at a high level, you also need a more detailed model of what the future state will look like and how it will operate in practice. This is where the blueprint comes in.
The blueprint gives substance to the overall vision and includes details of the programme’s current state (where you are now), how the future operating model will work (where you want to be), and where the gaps are between the two (to be filled by the programme’s projects and other activities). The blueprint can contain details of the future organizational structure, processes, functions and performance levels and what technology and information might be needed to support them. In essence, the blueprint shows the capabilities the programme aims to deliver. But where does the blueprint come from?
Putting together the blueprint
There are a number of elements needed to put together an effective programme blueprint:
- Involve the right people
People who will be living in the new world, who understand how the current business works and can help to define the future state should be involved in developing the blueprint. Business change managers are key and can help to identify others who should be involved in understanding and defining the future operating model.
- Have an iterative process
Based on the vision and an initial view of the desired, high level benefits you’re looking to achieve, you might design the first cut of the blueprint. This initial view will evolve; as you refine the benefits and get a better understanding of the costs and timeframes to achieve them, the shape of the future model may change. The programme’s blueprint (where are we going?), benefits (why?) and plan of projects and activities (how will we get there?) are all related, and a change to one element will impact the others. During the process of developing the blueprint you may find that the work needed will be too expensive, take too long or not provide the benefits you need. Consequently, you may need to go back and re-think the projects needed to reach the future state, or go back and review the contents of the blueprint.
- Review the overall business case
Through the iterative process of building the blueprint, at some point the programme should show an acceptable balance between costs, benefits, time and risks. Once you have reached this balance, you can assess the business case to validate its overall viability and value for money. Then the business case can be formally approved and delivery can commence.
Using the blueprint through the programme
You don’t put your blueprint on the shelf and forget about it. Throughout the programme it’s a key control used to ensure things stay on the right track. It provides the basis for developing project requirements and should be used to check that the outputs from the projects will contribute to the required capabilities. It can also include performance levels of the current state. These can be used as baselines for measuring performance improvements when the blueprint has been delivered and its capabilities transitioned into the business.
Reaching the end of the programme
When you have delivered the blueprint and achieved the outcomes you need, you can think about closing your programme. As part of this you can review the capabilities delivered and make sure you have the right performance measures in place to keep track of benefits realization after the programme closes.
The MSP guidance spells out the importance of the blueprint and how you can use it, together with related elements such as the business case, benefits profiles and programme plan, to design and deliver a successful programme.
Read Sue Taylor's previous AXELOS Blog Posts
Programme office in the context of an MSP programme
Governing major change programmes with MSP