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.
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.