What is MSP? Everything you Need to Know

The world of program management is complex and high-stakes. Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) is a methodology offering structure, clarity, and control. Find out how you could boost your program management ROIs with MSP today. Contact the Good e-Learning team to find out more

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In the modern world of business, the ability to drive significant organizational change has become essential. Companies the world over place enormous value on the skills required to steer program management teams towards achieving large and complex business objectives. Unfortunately, with so much riding on the success of change management, it is extremely risky to expect those in program manager roles to reach a sufficient level of competence with experience alone.

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) is, as the name suggests, a program management methodology. While it may sound boastful, the name is anything but unfounded. MSP has been utilized across numerous industries all over the world, creating a community of practitioners who can all back up just how ‘successful’ it is.

In essence, MSP breaks large programs down into individual projects, each with clearly defined lines of communication, roles, responsibilities, benefits and so on. Together, these programs offer greater strategic benefits than the sum of their projects. Better still, the MSP framework can be applied regardless of an organization’s location, size, industry, or sector. In other words, not only is MSP highly ‘successful’, but it is also widely applicable.

So, what exactly is it that makes MSP so ‘successful’? How does it work, and what is the value of an MSP certification?

How Does MSP Work?

When it comes to achieving crucial organizational objectives, having a vague idea of what you want to achieve isn’t even enough to get started! Those in program management roles must be capable of clarifying their intentions, as well as the costs and benefits of pursuing the objectives, not just at the start of a program but throughout. Then come the matters of creating a roadmap for reaching the intended destination, designating authority to project managers, engaging with stakeholders, and so on.

All of this can quickly mount up to a hugely complex process. In a multinational organization, or even in a startup, attempting to bring about major changes without a clear process in place is highly inefficient. So, how can you progress with optimum efficiency and clarity? How can you ensure that you maximize the benefits of a program without overspending or delaying completion dates?

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 remains flexible enough not only to be applied to programs of different sizes, sectors and locations, but also to be adapted in order to reflect unique program requirements.

To fully understand how MSP works, you must become familiar with its Governance Themes, Principles and Transformational Flow Processes.

MSP governance themes

  • Organization - This covers a program’s structure, roles and responsibilities. MSP is not prescriptive, and the organizational aspect must be tailored to the program itself

  • Vision - The future state of an organization that will be reached through a program will be outlined in the ‘Vision Statement’. This will not be altered unless as a result of significant external pressure

  • Leadership and stakeholder engagement - A successful program needs support and input from stakeholders, from major executives to customers. Again, this should occur throughout a program with consistent communication

  • Benefits realization management - MSP practitioners will create ‘Path to Benefit Realisation’ diagrams to outline every factor from Project Outputs to Strategic Objectives. In order to fully realize proposed benefits, programs are also continually reassessed to remove any dead weight

  • Blueprint design and delivery - The ‘Programme Blueprint’ will expand on the Vision Statement, laying out a plan which describes working practices and processes in detail. This will include gap analysis between the current and desired organizational states so that the program can be redefined if necessary

  • Planning and control - The ‘Programme Plan’ outlines how the program will be run, with information on risks, resources, projects, deadlines, scheduling, constraints and so on. This will keep the program on track to ensure that transitions are smooth and benefits delivered

  • The Business Case - The MSP ‘Business Case’ will assess whether a program is worth the required investment. Program managers will evaluate benefits, costs, risks and the intended timescale of achievement. The case will be updated throughout a program to ensure its ongoing viability

  • Risk management and issue resolution - MSP’s flexibility and tools make it well suited to uncertain program environments. It has a focus on risks and issues which enables users to turn them into opportunities wherever possible

  • Quality management - MSP judges a program’s quality based on its ability to achieve strategic goals. This enables continuous quality management, even after a program’s conclusion, to ensure that all benefits can be realized

MSP principles

  • Remain aligned with corporate strategy - In program management, you must always keep the strategic aims of your business in mind, even if they change over time. These aims will govern activities relating to business change projects, though they can also be influenced by feedback from program managers. Luckily, MSP programs are flexible enough to change when necessary

  • Learning from experience - MSP encourages users to record and act on lessons learned when managing programs, especially at major points. This can have a positive impact even before a program’s conclusion, while also providing excellent wisdom for future programs

  • Designing and delivering a coherent capability - MSP users will define a program’s capabilities in the ‘Programme Blueprint’. These capabilities will then be delivered according to the ‘Programme Plan’. This, in turn, will control the program’s scope and quality while also keeping users focused on the big picture

  • Adding value - A huge advantage of MSP is that the benefits provided by successful programs will typically exceed the sum of the associated projects. These benefits will be identified and achieved by enabling organizational change at a program level

  • Focusing on benefits and threats to them - Programs can help businesses to enjoy major benefits. However, they must be relevant in a strategic context. Achieving them will also require effective management of operational, strategic and tactical risks throughout a program’s lifecycle

  • Envisioning and communicating a better future - A program must have a clearly defined end-point in order to effectively enable organizational change. This will be defined early on and refined over the program’s lifecycle. The program manager will be responsible for communicating this vision to stakeholders and keeping it aligned with the business strategy

  • Leading change - MSP treats program managers as agents of change. They require effective leadership skills, as well as the transparency and consistency to be able to effectively engage with stakeholders

MSP transformational flow processes

  • Identifying a programme - This is triggered by the approval of a ‘Programme Mandate’, setting the stage to lay out the tangible business benefits of a proposed change. The main output will be the ‘Programme Brief’

  • Defining a programme - Once the Programme Brief is approved, it can be used to help create the ‘Programme Definition Document’. This will summarise the documentation created at this stage of the process, helping to fully define the upcoming program

  • Managing the tranche - This process implements the governance for the program, while also acknowledging that it may need to be changed over time. This ‘governance’ will be made up of the processes, procedures and functions which define how the program is set up, managed and controlled

  • Delivering the capability - This is the process of coordinating and managing project delivery. It includes starting, monitoring and concluding projects listed in the ‘Project Dossier’, in order to deliver outputs which will enable the capabilities described in the Blueprint

  • Realizing the benefits - This process controls the benefits and ensures their successful realization. It provides the capabilities to enable business change and, in turn, create successful outcomes and benefits

  • Closing the program - Part of managing a successful program is realizing when to conclude it

How can an MSP Certification Help my Business?

Program management has become an essential skill for driving transformational change in organizations. With a clear process in place, businesses can realize the benefits of major changes as quickly and efficiently as possible without having to sacrifice quality or disappoint stakeholders.

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

The comprehensive yet flexible approach has seen it applied to programs across dozens of industries and tens of thousands of companies, with MSP Foundation and Practitioner certifications having become highly valuable. If you are not utilizing an effective program management framework, you may be in the minority!

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Why Gain an MSP Certification with Good e-Learning?

Good e-Learning is an award-winning e-course provider. Our portfolio covers many of the world’s most popular corporate standards and frameworks, including ITIL, TOGAF, Lean and Six Sigma. What makes us unique is our focus on delivering engaging content; rather than endless slides or documents, we spice up our courses with assets like interactive videos, motion graphics, gamified quizzes and more.

To become fully certified in MSP, students must pass both the MSP Foundation and MSP Practitioner exams. Good e-Learning provides certification courses for each stage, along with FREE vouchers for when students are ready to sit their exams.

Good e-Learning offer a number of accredited Project Management courses:

Key features of our MSP courses:

  • Accredited by PeopleCert

  • FREE exam vouchers included

  • 94+% first time pass rate

  • Quizzes and revision modules

  • Instant 6 & 12 months access

  • Practice exam simulators

  • Mobile app for offline learning

  • 24/7 Tutor support

While we work hard to keep students interested, we also realize how difficult it can be for those in full-time jobs to manage their studies. As such, not only do we provide course access for several months, but we also make our courses accessible even on mobile devices, ensuring students can stagger their training and access materials whenever they have the time.

Best of all, our courses can be accessed via multiple devices. Whether you are traveling, killing time or just sat at your desk, you can continue your studies whenever it is convenient for you.

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