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Mark Komarov
Mark Komarov

Managing Successful Programmes


MSP (Managing Successful Programmes), 5th edition is an established best practice programme management framework, designed to align programmes and projects to organizational strategy and enable enterprise agility. MSP focuses on the delivery of outcomes of benefit, while mitigating risk and actively engaging stakeholders.




Managing Successful Programmes


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Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) is a methodology that comprises a set of principles and processes for use when managing a programme. A programme is made up of a specific set of projects identified by an organisation that together will deliver some defined objective, or set of objectives, for the organisation. The objectives, or goals, of the programme are typically at a strategic level so that the organisation can achieve benefits and improvements in its business operation.


There is a close link between Programme Management and project management because the programme is made up of projects and is only successful if the projects within it succeed. The concept of a programme is that it should deliver more than the 'sum of its parts'.


MSP offers a best practice methodology for planning, instigating, managing, and concluding successful programs. It breaks them down into multiple projects, each with clear roles, objectives, and benefits. While the framework is comprehensive, it still remains flexible enough to be applicable for programs of different sizes, sectors, and locations. It can even be adapted to suit unique program requirements.


The MSP framework offers a proven roadmap for bringing about organizational change. It helps practitioners to define and pursue changes, all while managing risks, unforeseen issues, stakeholders, and other aspects with complete clarity and control.


Delivering on an organisation's strategic goals can often be complex. Using programme management principles can be useful in achieving these goals by breaking down the individual tasks into groups (programmes) and then into smaller chunks (projects). But how do you manage and organise programmes?The answer is simple: use a best practice method such as MSP.


This methodology was developed by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), [3] a British organization in charge of suggesting best practices to achieve successful business, ranging from small organizations to large international corporations. Its growing global use has set it as a standard for program management, which has been widely used in a variety of complex programs, including the London Olympics.


This set of principles represents ideas and goals that individuals should follow to successfully manage programs. Since they are very broad concepts, they can potentially be applied to all kinds of programs. These principles are shown in the outer ring of Figure 1.


One of the reasons why the MSP has been so successful worldwide is the flexibility it allows, as it is adaptive to different situations based on the needs of each company. Furthermore, it offers a proven and structured methodology for program management with the following advantages.[6]


The need for organizations to develop, improve and become more efficient is an increasing pressure that must be addressed if they want to continue to be competitive. This demand emphasizes the need for transformational change, which occurs when an organization changes a part of its business in a major way. Furthermore, if the organization is undergoing a major, complex change there will be high risks to consider and numerous conflicts to resolve. In order for a company to overcome these pitfalls and succeed in such a challenging task, an efficient framework must be used to provide this change. Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) provides such a framework, as it is a powerful tool for managing programs successfully. Thanks to the many advantages that can be obtained from adopting MSP, it has become a standard for program management.


Keeping track of complex programs with countless subprojects is an almost insurmountable task. Have you experienced this too? If so, you need a robust project management program. This article provides many recommendations to help you achieve successful program management. These include:


A strong multi-project tool / program management tool is needed for a successful program management and to manage complex programs. Many suitable products are currently on the market, and these have become ever more sophisticated over the past few years.


For successful program management, we recommend a solution that gives you both top-down and bottom-up control of your projects as described above. The determining factor is how it lets you define the links between the projects.


What experiences have you had with successful program management? Is there a critical success factor that you feel we have missed? Have these tips been helpful? Please let us know in the comment area below. We look forward to your feedback!


About the author: Johann Strasser, a certified engineer, has been a managing partner at TPG The Project Group since 2001. After many years as a development engineer in the automotive and energy sectors, Johann Strasser spent a decade as an independent trainer and consultant in the field of project management. During his tenure, he also served as project manager for software projects in the construction industry and provided scheduling and cost management support for large-scale construction projects. At TPG, he applies his expertise in product development and consulting services for international clients. His special focus is on PMO, project portfolios, hybrid project management, and resource management. For many years now, he has shared his knowledge through presentations, seminars, articles, and webinars.


In practice and in its aims, program management is often closely related to systems engineering, industrial engineering, change management, and business transformation. In the defense sector, it is the dominant approach to managing large projects. Because major defense programs entail working with contractors, it is also called acquisition management, indicating that the government buyer acquires goods and services by means of contractors.


Many programs focus on delivering a capability to change and are normally designed to deliver the organization's strategy or business transformation. Program management also emphasizes the coordinating and prioritizing of resources across projects, managing links between the projects and the overall costs and risks of the program.


The Project Management Institute, an American nonprofit professional association for project management, thusly summarizes: "a Program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits and control NOT available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside of the scope of the discrete projects in the program... Some projects within a program can deliver useful incremental benefits to the organization before the program itself has completed."[2]


According to the view that programs deliver outcomes but projects deliver outputs, program management is concerned with doing the right projects. The program manager has been described as 'playing chess' and keeping the overview in mind, with the pieces to be used or sacrificed being the projects.[12] In contrast, project management is about doing projects right. And also according to this view, successful projects deliver on time, to budget, and to specification, whereas successful programs deliver long-term improvements to an organization. Improvements are usually identified through benefits. An organization should select the group of programs that most take it towards its strategic aims while remaining within its capacity to deliver the changes. On the other hand, the view that programs are simply large projects or a set of projects allows a program may need to deliver tangible benefits quickly.


Another view and another successful way of managing does not see any of the factors listed above as distinguishing projects from programs, but rather sees the program as being about portfolio management. On this view, program management is about selecting projects, adjusting the speed at which they run, and adjusting their scope, in order to the maximize the value of the portfolio as a whole, and as economic or other external conditions change. Still, some emphasize that whereas a portfolio consists of independent projects, a program is a collection of interdependent projects, adding a dimension of complexity to the management task.


Rod Sowden, founder and principal consultant of Aspire Europe Ltdpresented to South Wales and West of England Branch in November 2006 on managing successful programmes. Rod began the seminar by defining project portfolio programme. He provided the audience with a managing successful programme overview and stated that it is a framework and not a methodology. The presentation covered many elements of programme management, including the senior responsible owner, programme governance, business strategy and benefits management.


Rod also talked about themarket status and the key issues arising from this particular climate with regard to managing programmes. Rod isa popular and regular speaker at APM events and once again he delivered an informative and educative sessionfor his audience.


In a world of seemingly constant change, businesses need to be equipped to adapt and thrive amidst uncertainty. The success of a project or programme depends upon having the right balance of rigour and flexibility. A Managing Successful Programmes certification will teach individuals and teams how to manage risk, improve communication, engage stakeholders and maintain focus through even the most challenging business programmes.


MSP is very flexible and adapts to the current circumstances. Managing successful programmes coordinates and directs a portfolio of projects and activities to deliver joint, new and strategic outcomes. 041b061a72


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