Since its launch in 1999, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) has provided best practice in structuring and delivering strategic organisational change across all business sectors. In light of experience, lessons learned, and changes in the business environment, best practice evolves. MSP has been revised several times throughout the first decade of the new century, with the fourth edition published in 2011. Since then, the digital revolution, the speed of change, the rise of agile ways of working, alongside the increased volatility and uncertainty of all markets, means that programme management must evolve to meet demands. The fifth edition reflects this changing world, published this year with the new examinations available from early 2021.
MSP fifth edition emphasises more flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness by adopting an incremental approach to the programme lifecycle and thus enabling organisational agility. A single programme or project may combine different delivery approaches, with projects using iterative (Agile), linear (Waterfall), or hybrid lifecycles or continual improvement activities.
The new manual is structured using a similar design template as PRINCE2 2017 with 7 Principles, 7 Themes (previously 9) and 7 Processes (previously 6 Transformational Flow processes).
The seven principles are the driving requirements continually required to achieve value from programme management and underpin all of the themes.
The seven themes identify key programme organisational roles, responsibilities and information needed to:
- Design a Vision and Target Operating Model to communicate the organisation’s desired future operational state to all stakeholders;
- Justify and fund the programme through robust business cases and effective benefits management and realisation;
- Structure programme strategy and plans to deliver capability that can embed outcomes of benefit into the evolving operational services of the organisation; and
- Provide timely decisions to facilitate project and business change delivery based on relevant and accurate information, knowledge and a robust assurance regime.
The seven processes provide a route through the programme lifecycle with an emphasis on the incremental nature of a programme enabling a cyclical progression towards the desired future state. The methods still provide a controlled start and endpoint for the programme. Within the delivery processes, however, desired business outcomes are designed, planned, and embedded through cyclical tranches of benefit-enabling capabilities. The ends of tranches are “landing points” where progress towards strategic objectives, and new information in the emerging external context, can be assessed and decisions to continue with, or close, the programme made.
Again, the PRINCE2 design influence has resulted in the one-hour, closed-book, Foundation exam becoming 60 questions, needing 33 correct answers to pass the exam and demonstrate a broad knowledge of the MSP method.
The scenario-based Practitioner exam tests candidates’ ability to analyse and justify the application of MSP in different circumstances. 2 hours and 30 minutes is allowed in the open book exam to attempt 70 questions, of which 38 questions answered correctly results in a pass. There are now only two types of exam question but they still probe deep knowledge of the MSP method and demonstrate candidates’ readiness to apply the new concepts and skills in the workplace.