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All About Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) Framework



Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®), 5th edition is an established best practice programme management framework, designed to align programmes and projects to organizational strategy and enable enterprise agility. MSP focuses on the delivery of outcomes of benefit, while mitigating risk and actively engaging stakeholders.

MSP consists of a set of principles, themes, and processes that provide a clear roadmap for the programme lifecycle, including larger, more strategic, complex, or multiple projects. MSP is specifically designed to address the most common challenges that organizations encounter when leading investments in change. It is designed to align programmes and projects to organizational strategy and to provide governance. It focuses on the outcomes of benefits, whilst mitigating risks and actively engaging stakeholders.

Managing Successful Programmes
History of MSP

History of Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®)

  • Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) was originally developed in 1999 by OGC (formerly CCTA), The Office of Government Commerce (an independent office of the UK Treasury reporting to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury).
  • The main trigger for development of this framework was to deal with the successful delivery of change from programmes.
  • MSP also addressed the gaps between programme/ projects delivery and organisational strategy.
  • Second edition of MSP was released in 2004 for UK Government and public use.
  • Current release is the 5th edition of the framework, publicly available since late 2021
  • Despite originating in the government sector, it is widely used in public and private sectors across the globe for successful programme management.

Programme and Programme Management

  • MSP defines a programme as:
    • A temporary structure designed to lead multiple interrelated projects and other work in order to progressively achieve outcomes of benefit for one or more organizations.
  • MSP identifies programme management as:
    • The management of the temporary structure designed to lead multiple interrelated projects and other work in order to progressively achieve outcomes of benefit for one or more organizations.
MSP Context
Agile in VUCA Context

MSP Definition of a Programme

  • A temporary structure (designed to lead)
    • Although is closely linked to business as usual (BAU) operations and may span many years
  • Multiple, interrelated projects and other work (in order to)
    • Not necessarily just projects, nor just one mode of delivery
  • Progressively achieve outcomes of benefit (for)
    • Incremental cycles with landing points where it would be ‘safe’ for the organization to stop. Enterprise agility. Not an agile method.
  • One or more organizations
    • MSP recognises the investing organization(s) noting that investments are often made by multiple stakeholders but the key point is that programmes are typically not bounded by one organization/part of an organization and require collaboration across boundaries.

The Managing Successful Programmes Handbook

  • The MSP® Study Guide
    • Defines full content of MSP
    • Is definitive source for all MSP exams
    • Supports training and exams
    • Can be used only in Practitioner exam (open book exam)
  • Structure of the handbook:
    • 18 Chapters
    • 1 Appendix
Managing Successful Programmes Handbook
MSP Principles

7 MSP PRINCIPLES for Effective Programme Management

  1. Lead With Purpose
  2. Collaborate Across Boundaries
  3. Deal With Ambiguity
  4. Align With Priorities
  5. Deploy Diverse Skills
  6. Realize Measurable Benefits
  7. Bring Pace and Value

The MSP Themes

An essential aspect of governance required to ensure that the programme is aligned with the principles.

Themes are collectively applied during the processes throughout the programme lifecycle.

  1. Organization
  2. Design
  3. Justification
  4. Structure
  5. Knowledge
  6. Assurance
  7. Decisions
MSP Themes
MSP Processes

The MSP Processes

A structured set of activities that define the sequence of actions and their inputs and outputs to achieve a specific objective.

  1. Identify the programme
  2. Design the outcomes
  3. Plan progressive delivery
  4. Deliver the capabilities
  5. Embed the outcomes
  6. Evaluate new information
  7. Close the programme

The MSP Roles

The purpose of the programme’s organization structure is to define the governance boards and supporting offices that are needed to control the definition and delivery of outcomes of benefit within the constraints of the investing organization(s).

The key roles defined by MSP are:

  1. Sponsoring Group
  2. Programme Board
  3. Senior Responsible Owner (SRO)
  4. Programme Manager
  5. Business Change Manager (BCM)
  6. Programme Office
MSP Roles

Are you ready to become MSP certified professional? Click here to explore relevant certification training and achieve the next level in programme management profession.



Why MSP Programme Management?

Why Managing Successful Programmes (MSP)?

  1. MSP Addresses common programme challenges:
    1. Insufficient support from decision-makers in the investing organization(s)
    2. Unclear decision-making
    3. Unsustained focus on outcomes and benefits
    4. Poorly defined, communicated, or maintained narrative that supports the vision
    5. Lack of clarity about the gap between current and future states
    6. Unrealistic expectations about the capacity and ability to change
    7. Failure to engage and influence stakeholders
    8. Complex dependencies obscuring an integrated approach
    9. Inability to influence the prevailing culture
    10. Difficulties in keeping effort focused at the right level of detail.

Benefits of Managing Successful Programmes (MSP)

  • For organisations, MSP:
    • Provides step-by-step guidance for managing complexity and resources.
    • Aligns projects and programmes to organizational strategy.
    • Helps deliver strategic programmes and multiple projects to realize benefits.
  • For individuals, MSP:
    • Certification validates your programme management knowledge and professional expertise
    • Provides internationally recognized certification
    • helps with career progression for aspiring senior project, programme, and business change managers
MSP Benefits
PRINCE2 - Waterfall or Agile?

MSP - Waterfall or Agile?

Programmes, by their nature, are agile because they are designed to help realise the benefits incrementally.

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) is very agile in its nature since it organises the projects and related work into tranches and each tranche is designed to deliver one or more benefits incrementally. An MSP programme can have one or more tranches in the lifecycle.

PRINCE2 and Managing Successful Programmes (MSP)

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®), 5th edition is an established best practice programme management framework, designed to align programmes and projects to organizational strategy and enable enterprise agility.

PRINCE2 is focused on project management level while MSP is focused on ensuring that all projects within the programme are managed in an organised way and the benefits from the delivery of all projects within the programme are realised. It must be made clear that PRINCE2 and MSP are not competitor, rather they have a parent and child relationship. Neither of these negates or overcomes another one.

PRINCE and MSP-Framework
MSP Training and Certification

MSP Training and Certification

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) certification trainings are provided by PeopleCert's Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) across the globe. Tecknologia is also a PeopleCert Accredited Training Organization (ATO) offering Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) certification trainings across the globe and in various formats.

Certification Level Course Duration (Virtual Classroom) Course Duration (Classroom) Certificate Valid for
MSP Foundation 2 Days 3 Days 3 Years
MSP Practitioner 2 Days 2 Days 3 Years
MSP Foundation & Practitioner 4 Days 5 Days As above

Click on the links for certification levels to explore the pre-requisites, exams and other details.

In comparison: PMI-PgM® (Programme Management Professional)

  • PMI-PgM is more aligned with PMBoK and PMP
  • There are strict prerequisites for candidates, including:
    • Either a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, or the global equivalent) with 6,000 hours of project management experience and 10,500 hours of programme management experience.
    • OR a four-year degree (bachelor’s degree or the global equivalent) with 6,000 hours of project management experience and 6,000 hours of program management experience.
    • Panel approval before candidate is allowed to sit the exam.
    • The certification exam has 170 multiple-choice questions to be attempted within four hours.
MSP vs PMI-PgM

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Managing Successful Programmes (MSP)

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) is an established best practice programme management framework, designed to align programmes and projects to organizational strategy and enable enterprise agility. MSP focuses on the delivery of outcomes of benefit, while mitigating risk and actively engaging stakeholders.

MSP consists of a set of principles, themes, and processes that provide a clear roadmap for the programme lifecycle, including larger, more strategic, complex, or multiple projects.

Prices vary depending on the mode of delivery, location, deliverables and the quality of training delivery. Typically MSP Foundation online training costs between £900 and £1500 while MSP Practitioner online training costs between £1100 and £1600. MSP Foundation & Practitioner (combined) online training typically costs between £1700 and £2500.

Following are the pass marks details for Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) exams:

  • MSP Foundation: 60% (36 correct answers out of total 60 questions).
  • MSP Practitioner: 60% (42 correct answers out of total 70 questions).

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) qualifications have helped hundreds of thousands of professionals globally enhance their skills and achieve their professional ambitions. Professionals holding MSP accreditations stand a better chance of being invited for an interview and definitely stand a better chance being offered a role afterwards.

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) certifications can be a very valuable addition to the list of professional qualifications and accreditations which can help achieve professional growth within organisations, without a need to switch jobs/ employers.

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) has been and will remain in demand within wider programme management profession today and for coming years.

Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) trainings and certifications are more suitable for professionals with at least 3-5 years of experience in project and programme management. However, some organisations prefer to hire PMO/ PSO support staff who have MSP qualifications.

MSP is the acronym for Managing Successful Programmes and it is a level above project management. Though programmes have relationships with projects planning, initiating, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing, MSP is more concerned with programme level itself rather than project within the container.

Projects are within a programme and not the other way around, similarly project and project management are part MSP and not the other way around.

While MSP exams are relatively hard, with right level of attention and focus one can pass both exams. MSP is not rocket science and anyone with focused training and devotion can definitely achieve success in both exams.

MSP foundation pass rate remains around 80% and MSP practitioner pass rate is around 65% globally, in first attempt. There are training organisations selling false promises of close to 100% success rate in both exams, caution is advised with such organisations.

It is absolutely possible to achieve MSP exam(s) success while relying on self study. However, high standard MSP training can accelerate the process, along with exam success probability, for sure.

MSP Foundation & Practitioner certifications are considered to be professional qualifications only. These qualifications are widely recognized and sought after globally, however, they are not the same as a college or university degree. Some quarters believe that MSP Practitioner qualification is equivalent to UK NQF 6/7 - Tecknologia has no grounds to confirm this.

There is no negative marking in MSP exams. No marks are deducted for a wrong answer.

Both MSP Foundation and Practitioner certifications have validity of 3 years from issuance date. Candidate must retake both exams within 3 years to maintain their certifications. Alternatively, candidates can log Continuous Professional Development points (CPDs) over three years, via paid PeopleCert membership, to maintain certifications.

MSP is the acronym for Managing Successful Programmes and it is a level above PRINCE2 project management, though part of same family of frameworks invented by UK Government originally. programmes have relationships with projects planning, initiating, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing, MSP is more concerned with programme level itself rather than project within the container.

PRINCE2 based projects are within an MSP programme and not the other way around, similarly project and project management are part MSP and not the other way around.

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