MSP® (Managing Successful Programmes) 5th edition

The basics

MSP 5th edition provides a fully integrated framework of 7 Principles, 7 Themes and 7 Processes.

To survive and prosper, organizations must continually improve their ability to respond to changes in their environment. Investing in incremental change programmes in order to realize tangible benefits is a way of doing this. The rate and scale of change experienced by organizations continues to increase. Words such as volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) are often used to describe a fast-paced and changing world where the path from the current state to the desired future state is not linear and cannot be predicted with any certainty.

Often, project management is used to define and deliver new capabilities. In other circumstances, change is managed through continual improvement of ‘business as usual’ (BAU) processes. Programme management is recognized as an approach that brings together multiple projects and other work associated with delivering outcomes of benefit across organizational boundaries. The programme management approach shows organizations how to adopt appropriate governance, pace, and focus to enable them to move ahead.

Organizations need to decide when to invest to address drivers for change. For example, when to: embrace disruption and emergent technologies and trends, build new physical infrastructure, respond to societal expectations and policy

changes, build more effective working partnerships across supply chains, use scarce resources as efficiently as possible across the

organization’s diverse range of projects and processes. MSP is designed to deliver outcomes of benefit to stakeholders throughout the programme lifecycle using an incremental approach. Programme management requires the design and redesign of the progression towards the desired future state with a focus on achieving measurable benefit as early as possible. The incremental approach also allows for the intentional alignment with new information as the programme progresses. This enables organizations to be responsive and flexible.


Organizations use programme management in a variety of situations and to pursue different organizational objectives: innovation and growth, organizational re-alignment and to deliver change effectively and efficiently. There are four scenarios in the guidance to add practical examples and bring this to life.

MSP provides a principles-based framework that can be applied in all circumstances. The principles are: Lead with Purpose, Collaborate across boundaries, Deal with ambiguity, Align with priorities, Deploy diverse skills, Realize measurable Benefits, Bring pace and value.

The principles are the guiding obligations built into and creating tailored programme governance through the themes and enacted in the processes to achieve value from programme management. The MSP themes of Organization, Design, Justification, Structure, Knowledge, Assurance and Decisions describe essential aspects of governance. Application of all the themes collectively establishes the control environment for the programme.

The processes support the lifecycle that is flexible and adaptable yet enables an orderly progression with clear decision criteria. The lifecycle is incremental, with a Controlled Start and End.

New information leads to adjustments, focus on learning and design and redesign of the programme. The Lifecycle consists of 7 processes: Identify the programme, Design the outcomes, Plan progressive delivery, Deliver the capabilities, Embed the outcomes, Evaluate new information and Close the programme. The first and last process step (Identify and Close the programme) are the only linear steps. Steps 2-6 are repeated through the programme, forming an incremental cycle of

progression towards the defined Vision and Outcomes of Benefit.

At the end of each tranche/landing point, step 6 specifically addresses progress and what has changed in the programme environment to inform step 2 in the next cycle. Step 3 focuses on the business case for the whole programme and planning the next tranche in detail. Steps 4 and 5 focus on programme delivery and embedding the outcomes to realize benefits.

The Key roles in MSP are: Sponsoring Group is the governance board with delegated authority to direct the programme. It includes senior leaders who are accountable to the executives of the investing organizations. The Programme Board is the governance board with delegated authority to drive delivery

of the outcomes of benefit within the defined constraints. The Programme Board include: the Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), the Programme Manager (PgM), Business Change Manager (BCM) and the leader of the programme office (PMO- lead).

The SRO is accountable for the successful delivery of the outcomes of the programme. The Programme Manager is responsible for the successful day-to-day leadership of the programme in support of the SRO. The BCM is responsible for the successful adoption of new capabilities in the investing organization(s) in support of the realization of outcomes

of benefit on behalf of the SRO. The programme office is a governance supporting office, led by the programme office lead, with primary responsibility for managing delivery and capacity controls for the programme.


Target audience

•   PM professionals (project/ programme manager, portfolio manager, PMO manager, head of PMO, PMO support, portfolio analyst)

•   All roles involved in business change (business change manager, management consultant, business analyst, service designer, IT/process architect, delivery manager, HR professional, operations manager

Scope and constraints

MSP is part of a portfolio of global best practice publications aimed at helping organizations and individuals manage projects, programmes, and portfolios consistently and effectively. MSP can be used in conjunction with all the other best practice products, and international or internal organizational standards. MSP works perfect in combination with PRINCE2, PRINCE2 Agile, Management of Risk (MoR). They have the same owner and contain a process-based management approach.