Sign in
  • Blog
  • Career progression
  • Programme management
  • Project management
  • MSP

Author  Allan Thomson – PPM Product Ambassador, Axelos

February 21, 2020 |

 3 min read

  • Blog
  • Career progression
  • Programme management
  • Project management
  • MSP

What is a programme? And how does the Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) guidance and certification make programmes more manageable?

A programme is a flexible structure in an organization used to coordinate, direct and oversee implementation of a set of projects to deliver outcomes and benefits that align with strategic objectives. Though it may span several years, a programme is temporary – such as building and equipping a new hospital. On an even bigger scale, it underpinned the organization of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Today’s climate of constant and increasing change means programmes become more essential, driven by a range of factors such as:

  • Changing markets
  • Changing sales channels
  • Demand for higher quality and services
  • Regulations
  • Technology changes
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Random market events.

Why programme management?

Responding to new circumstances with major organizational change presents many challenges. These could involve:

  • Creating new facilities through large construction
  • Business transformation, e.g. new services or partnerships
  • Complying with new regulations
  • Political/societal change, new education policies.

Each significant change carries ambiguity, risk, complexity and an imperative to deliver outcomes and benefits. All of this needs managing and mitigating, which is the role of programme management.

The MSP guidance and certification are designed for people leading and managing transformational change, providing structure to reduce ambiguity and manage risk.

MSP – in more detail

MSP has become the “go-to” certification and framework for programme managers to develop the skills needed for programmes or multiple, strategic projects. It also offers the next step for ambitious project managers and is used in organizations including BP, Siemens, Barclays Bank and GSK.

Created as best practice with professionals around the world, it has a principle-based approach to deliver outcomes and benefits in any sector.

Organizations need to protect their significant investments and MSP helps them address some common challenges associated with major change initiatives:

  • Insufficient support from decision-makers
  • Unclear decision-making
  • Lack of focus on achieving benefits and outcome
  • Lack of clarity about the gap between current and future business states
  • Unrealistic expectations about capacity and the ability to change
  • Complex dependencies
  • Maintaining quality.

MSP – the benefits

Adopting the MSP approach helps programme and project managers deliver and coordinate connected, unconnected and strategic projects.

It offers practical guidance on tackling the common challenges involved and ensures outputs translate to outcomes and benefits, therefore delivering value to the organization.

Overall, MSP:

  • Is suitable for business transformation and political/societal change
  • Is applicable to any change, regardless of focus or nature of outcomes
  • Gives structure and process to support change
  • Plans and manages a programme with the end in mind
  • Adapts to any programme re-planning and revised timing if drivers change.

Who is MSP for?

For existing or aspiring programme managers, MSP is the industry-recognized certification. Also, project managers – either certified in PRINCE2 or not – who want to step up in their careers, develop a strategic mindset and manage greater complexity will also benefit from the guidance, as will anyone involved in direction, management, support and delivery of programmes.