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What is the MSP method? Description

The MSP method from OGC is a programme management framework for benefits identification and delivery. Programme Management of change deals with achieving the Vision Statement. This is the view of where the organization is going. A Vision Statement describes to the organization's internal and external customers the definition of what to expect from the organization in the future. It describes its service levels "after its transformation" in MSP terminology. The Vision Statement is a statement of the end-goal of all the organization's programmes to the stakeholders.

MSP includes a document referred to as "The Blueprint". This sets out the structure and composition of the changed organization that, after delivery, should demonstrate the capabilities expressed in the Vision Statement. The Blueprint is a detailed description of the organization in terms of its business processes, people, information systems and facilities and its data. It is used to maintain the focus of the program on the delivery of the new capability.

The trigger for the initial step - "Identifying a Programme" is a program mandate which provides the high-level, strategic objectives of the program. From the program mandate, the objectives are developed into the Programme Brief. Formal approval of the program brief is required from the sponsoring group and senior responsible owner before the program proceeds any further.

The Programme Brief (following approval) is the key input to "Defining a Programme". It provides the basis for the development of the Program Definition, the plans, and the strategies for programme governance. This information requires formal approval by the senior responsible owner and the sponsoring group before the program is formally established.

The programme's governance arrangements are established and implemented in "Governing a Programme". The program definition and plans are the basis for "Managing the Portfolio" and "Managing Benefits".

The projects and activities are grouped into tranches. Each tranche delivers a step change in capability, after which the realization of benefits can be assessed. The activities of "Managing the Portfolio" and "Managing Benefits" are repeated for each tranche. The end of each tranche provides a major review point at which the program can be formally assessed in terms of its progress towards achieving the desired outcomes and measurable realization of benefits. Throughout the program, progress monitoring provides continual assessment of crucial questions such as "Are we still on track?", "Is the business case still valid and relevant?", and "Do we need to change anything to realign the program?"

"Closing a Programme" is done when the program is completed - when the blueprint is delivered and the capabilities required to achieve the vision statement are implemented. Following program closure, further assessments may be required to assess and measure the continuing realization of benefits.

Origin of MSP. History

Developed by the OGC (formerly CCTA), The Office of Government Commerce (OGC), an independent Office of the UK Treasury reporting to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. The OGC is responsible for a wide-ranging programme, which focuses on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of central civil government procurement and the wider public sector.

In addition, OGC has an important role in developing and promoting private sector involvement across the public sector.
OGC also has a key role in assisting departments with project and program management. Departmental Centres of Excellence will become central points for embedding project and program management best practice across Government.

Usage of the MSP framework. Applications

  • Business change.
  • Connecting of strategy to projects.
  • A structured framework to co-ordinate, communicate, align, manage and control change.

Steps in the MSP method. Process

MSP process overview
  1. Identifying a programme. To sponsor the program, to confirm the program mandate, to appoint the senior responsible owner, to produce the program brief, to develop terms of reference for program definition, review, and to approve to proceed.
  2. Defining a programme. To establish the team to define the program, to develop the vision statement, to develop the blueprint, to develop the benefit profiles, to validate the benefits, to identify the stakeholders, to design the project portfolio, and to identify the tranches. And to design the programme's organization structure, to develop the programme's business case, to develop the programme's governance arrangements, to develop the communications plan, to develop the benefits realization plan, to develop the program plan, and to approve to proceed.
  3. Governing a programme. To setting up the program organization, to set up the program office, to support governance requirements, to set up the physical program environment, risk management and issue resolution, HR management, procurement and contract management, program communications, reporting - monitoring - control, information management, end of tranche reviews, and to maintain business as usual.
  4. Managing the portfolio. Project startup, to align projects with benefits realization, to align projects with program objectives, to monitor progress, to manage risks and to resolve issues, project closure, and to manage stakeholders.
  5. Managing benefits. To establish benefits measurement, to refine benefits profiles, to monitor benefits, to manage transition, to support changes to culture and personnel, to support benefit realization, and to measure benefits.
  6. Closing a programme. To confirm program closure, program review, update and finalize program information, to disband program management team and support function, and to inform stakeholders.

Strengths of MSP. Benefits

  • Delivery of change. More effective delivery of changes because they can be planned and implemented in an integrated way ensuring that current business operations are not adversely affected.
  • Alignment between the strategy and project levels. Effective response to strategic initiatives by bridging the gaps between strategy and projects.
  • Management support. Keeps activities focused on the business change objectives by providing a framework for senior management to direct and manage the change process.
  • Resource management. More effective management of resources by providing a mechanism for project prioritization and project integration.
  • Risk management. Better management of risk because the wider context is understood and explicitly acknowledged.
  • Benefits realization. Helps to achieve real business benefits through the formal process of benefit identification, realization, and measurement.
  • Budgetary control. Improves control through a framework within which the costs of introducing new infrastructure, standards, and quality regimes can be justified, measured, and assessed.
  • Improved performance. Clarifies how new business operations will deliver improved performance by defining the desired benefits and linking them to the achievement of new working practices.
  • Management of the business case. More effective management of the business case by building and maintaining a business case that clearly compares current business operations with the more beneficial future business operations.
  • Co-ordination & control. More efficient co-ordination and control of the often complex range of activities by clearly defining roles and responsibilities for managing the project portfolio and realizing the benefits expected from the program
  • Transition management. Smooth transition from current to future business operations through the clear recognition and responsibility for preparing the organization for migration to new ways of working.
  • Consistency. Achieving a consistent system of new or amended policies, standards, and working practices through the integrated definition, planning, delivery, and assurance of the required changes.

Limitations of MSP. Disadvantages

  • MSP does not provide a prescriptive process and does not include all ingredients i.e. it notes that you need a refined business case, but it does not explain how you can create the business case. It sits above the existing processes and systems within your organization.
  • MSP only discusses one program although in reality there may be many programs inter-related to each other.

Assumptions of the MSP model. Conditions

  • That suitable resources are available. I.e.: a programme office is generally not a "one-man band" role.
  • Senior Management have to agree with the change and actively sponsor it.

Book: Managing Successful Programmes (2nd edition), 2004, The Stationary Office - ISBN: 0-11-330917-1

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Compare with Managing Successful Programmes (MSP): OPM3 (PMI)  |  IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB)  |  PMBOK  |  PMMM  |  PRINCE2 (CCTA)  |  P-CMM  |  Change Management Iceberg  |  Appreciative Inquiry  |  Positive Deviance  |  Balanced Scorecard

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