MSP ® (Managing Successful Programs) – In 3 Minutes

The basics

MSP ® (Managing Successful Programs) is a systematic approach  to managing  programs  of business change to achieve outcomes  and realize benefits that are of strategic  importance..

Target audience

The main target  audience is senior executives, program managers  and business change managers. However, all roles involved in business change (such as business and functional managers  and other stakeholders) may find it useful to understand the principles of program  management.


MSP (Managing Successful Programs) was first published in 1999 by the UK Office of Government Commerce  (OGC).  It is now owned by the Cabinet Office, part of HM Government, which published the fourth edition in 2011.

MSP describes  best practice  for managing  programs of business change. Within MSP a program  is defined as a portfolio  of projects and (business) activities that are coordinated and managed as units. The goal is to achieve outcomes,  and realize benefits that are of strategic  importance.


The MSP framework is based on three core concepts: principles, governance themes and transformational flow.

  • MSP principles (outer ring); these are derived from lessons learned in programs  with both positive and negative results. They represent common factors that underpin the success of any program of transformational change
  • MSP governance themes (middle ring); these themes show how an organization’s approach  to program  management needs to be defined, measured  and controlled. The governance themes allow organizations to put in place the right leadership,  delivery team, robust organization structures, controls and control information (e.g. blueprint, business case, quality and assurance strategy),  giving the best chance of delivering the planned outcomes  and realizing the desired benefits.
  • MSP transformational flow (inner  circle); this flow provides a route through  the lifecycle of a program from its conception  through  to delivering the new capability,  transitioning to the desired outcomes,  realizing the benefits and finally closing the program.

Scope and constraints

The scope of the method comprises all the processes  and activities within the program management lifecycle.


MSP is a best practice method in program  management with:

  • A focus on achieving outcomes  and realizing benefits;
  • A good description of the characteristics and concepts of program  management;
  • A focus on added value and management of risks;
  • Clear terms of reference  for all roles within the program  management structure;
  • A focus on processes: it describes  all processes and activities within these processes  of program management;
  • Outlines  for all program  management products.

MSP can be seamlessly combined  with the PRINCE2® project management approach. They have both been developed as best practice  by the Cabinet Office, and they contain a similar process-based management approach.