What is Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®)?

What is Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®)?

By Sue Taylor    |    P3 Trainer and Consultant, AXELOS 

MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) is a framework for programme management, based on good practice, which organizations can use to help them deliver change programmes successfully.

Before discussing MSP in any depth, we need to establish why it’s needed:

Organizations will usually have a clearly-defined set of corporate objectives and goals they set out to achieve. How they reach their goals is more difficult: it involves a balance of making changes to the business while at the same time ensuring the normal day-to-day functions and operations of the business run smoothly. Often, organizations might find the same resources competing to do lots of things simultaneously – both business as usual (BAU) activities and change activities – which can cause difficulties.

Ultimately, transformational change is delivered by a programme: a set of related projects and other activities needed to help with transformational change. Programme management co-ordinates complex change and helps to deliver it coherently; ensuring the change contributes to the desired future state of the organization, transitioning old ways to new ways of working and focusing on achieving real business outcomes and benefits.

What does MSP do?

To manage a successful programme, MSP (hence the name) provides a framework to help focus on the critical success factors for delivery of change. It represents good practice and is based on the experiences of organizations, both public and private sector, which have successfully implemented transformational change programmes. So, how does it work?

  • It focuses on the benefits the change will bring – defining what they are, how the projects contribute to them and ensuring they can be achieved – and makes sure the change remains aligned to corporate strategy.
  • It helps organizations define their vision of the future: Why is change needed? What does the future look like? What processes and functions will be affected? What technology and tools are needed to support the changed organization? This can then be translated into a clear roadmap for how to achieve the desired transformation.
  • It focuses on obtaining clear and powerful leadership. Transforming an organization needs considerable support from senior people and MSP helps ensure the right stakeholders are identified and engaged appropriately.

Why is MSP effective?

  1. Having a structured framework helps to ensure that the change is managed and controlled effectively. One key area where MSP really helps is in planning and controlling many interrelated projects and activities, therefore delivering change in a co-ordinated way with the right balance between change and BAU work.
  1. Because it focuses on the benefits of change, MSP helps to ensure that what the programme delivers links to positive business outcomes and measurable improvements. It helps to ensure the ‘right’ change is undertaken.
  1. MSP is a flexible framework and, depending on the type and scale of change or transformation needed, an organization can use some or all of the tools it offers – in effect ‘MSP-lite’ or ‘MSP-heavy’ – whichever is appropriate.
  1. Coming from the AXELOS stable, MSP fits well with other best practice guidance such as PRINCE2®, MoP® and P3O®. Anyone familiar with a method like PRINCE2 will recognize similar language and concepts.

The point of using a programme framework is that it makes implementing change consistent and repeatable, and helps it to succeed by making sure that both the right change is undertaken and executed effectively. Bearing in mind the amount of time, money and effort that can be spent on doing the wrong things, or having to carry out costly rework, it makes good business sense to use a framework to plan and execute a change properly.


More information on IIL’s MSP offerings is available here. You can receive 10% off course registration with promo code: BLOG.

MSP®, PRINCE2®, MoP® and P3O® are registered trade marks of AXELOS Limited.

1 Comment

  • Paul Dandurand on August 18, 2016 5:08 pm Reply

    Sue, It’s great to hear more about the importance of flexible frameworks as brought forward by your organization and others, such as Dr. Harold Kerzner.

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