Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar iconNot recorded
Adobe PDF icon

Understanding MSP Programme Management

~ By Robert Norton

MSP Programme Management logo

For any organisation or individual that needs to manage and control related projects (portfolio of projects), Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) programme management is a management tool for bringing together people, activities and information to achieve the end goal.

History of MSP Programme Management

MSP programme management was developed by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), an independent Office of the UK Treasury, and supported by a full range of commercial partners. It was first released in 1999, and in 2007 a third version was released to reflect the evolving knowledge of programme management. MSP programme management is the UK Government Best Practice standard for effective programme management, and is a globally recognised qualification.

What is Programme Management?

A programme is made up of a number of projects identified by an organisation that will deliver a defined objective, or set of objectives, for the organisation. A programme can only succeed if the projects within the programme are completed, therefore, without programme management, the projects would be uncoordinated and not integrated into a final goal.

Programme management is becoming an increasingly important aspect of managing changes within business - whether it internal, such as increasing the range of products, or external, such as implementing new government policy. Programme management is a structured way of handling change proactively and provides a framework for handling complexity and risk.

MSP defines programme management as, the action of carrying out the co-ordinated organisation, direction, and implementation of a dossier of projects and transformational activities (i.e. the programme) to achieve outcomes and realise benefits of strategic importance to the business.

MSP programme management is designed for any organisation or individual that needs a controlled approach to managing programmes, and is intended for senior managers, project managers, programme office staff, and project and programme management consultants.

Aims of MSP Programme Management:

  • Provide a framework of best practice principles
  • Define and implement the governance requirements for the programme
  • Enable practitioners to identify the aim of the programme
  • Envisage benefits for the organisation
  • Adapt theory to practice
  • Improve decision making and implement beneficial change
  • To be available for organisations and individuals

What MSP Programme Management can do for a Business

Working with MSP programme management will have a benefit for the whole workforce. MSP has a standard and consistent approach to programme management. It provides a framework for practitioners to direct the change process while ensuring the focus is maintained on the business objectives. MSP practitioners will be able to define the programme and state how the organisation will be different after the change has been implemented. They will manage a business case for the programme and plan the work so it will have the desired end result. MSP practitioners will organise the workforce to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities and ensure lines of communication are kept open. Any issues that arise during the programme will be resolved and quality will be maintained by auditing, which will ensure standards are being kept. They will identify and manage risks, and keep up to date information of the programme. Resources are used efficiently through project prioritisation, and timescales and budgets are effectively controlled. Lastly they will close the programme and ensure the final goal has been achieved.

MSP programme management is designed to reduce bureaucracy by focusing on what is necessary; avoiding duplication, and delivering effective control over the programme.


MSP programme management gives added value to any organisation that needs to manage and control a number of projects, by providing a framework for practitioners to work with that has been underpinned by current research.

Robert Norton wrote the article 'Understanding MSP Programme Management' and recommends you visit the International Institute for Learning for more information on Microsoft training courses.


Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment

(never displayed)

Is it true or false that green is a number?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Building a Business Case for Your Project

Ball of business documents

To get stakeholders or management to approve your project, you will need to build a solid business case. Here are the basic steps for creating a business case.

Taming MS Project

Gantt chart and plan

Microsoft Project can become a huge overhead, even for seasoned project managers. This article contains some tips and tricks that will help you tame the tool.

10 Steps to Finding a Project Manager

Blond female job applicant handing over her CV to a smiling businessman

Hiring a good project manager means you can sit back and relax knowing that the project tasks are being taken care of in a professional, productive and profitable manner.

Effort Estimating: A Primer

Effort time money blue dice representing the ingredients for business

Good estimating is a skill like any other, it can be developed with practice to the point where it may seem like magic to the uninformed.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.

Latest Comments

Alick Nyangulu commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Thu 20 October 8:14pm

Duncan commented on…
Project Planning a Step by Step Guide
- Thu 20 October 5:04pm

Karim commented on…
Project Planning a Step by Step Guide
- Thu 20 October 12:48pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Re: What do you think about instinctive managers? about 21 hours ago

RT @LeanneM_INV: Eternally grateful for the existence of @ProjectSmart getting me through my MSc #speakinginplainenglish about 5 days ago

General Project Management • Re: What is a main priority when looking for PM Software? #pm #projectsmart about 6 days ago