Managing Successful Programmes


In 2020 Axelos published the 5th edition of Managing Successful Programmes. Because of COVID, only recently in 2022, as a trainer I was made aware of this new edition and had a chance to become familiar with it.

I have been MSP Advanced Practitioner from 2005 to 2020 and a MSP Approved Trainer since 2005 for several training organizations in The Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain.

Also, I have been a PRINCE2 Practitioner and a PRINCE2 Approved Trainer since 2002.

This evaluation assumes good understanding and knowledge of MSP by the reader. It discusses a number of issues, but only a number of in my view critical issues and not all of my issues.

I felt the need to evaluate the 5th edition and, to a lesser extent, the exams. Hopefully it could be used by Axelos to improve the MSP 5th edition and/or the exams.

The term "Sponsor" is used in many approaches to Project Management, Programme Management and Change Management. Not just in the theoretical approaches describing Best Practices or Common Practices, but also in real life a Sponsor is often mentioned as a key role.

This is a destructive practice. A Sponsor is a dangerous role; the term should not be used anymore. Sponsors are main threats to any form of change.

Many projects struggle with (external) dependencies. Most of the time these dependencies can not be managed. They are simply out of the control of the project and the project management is only able to monitor and maybe influence. There are however often dependencies that are results of poor project design and therefor occur by choice. These are dependencies between projects (in programmes and in portfolios) and should often be managed by focus on quality.

MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) offers a methodical approach to Programme Management. The 2011 edition is an update to the 2007 edition. What is this edition about and what are the major changes?

MSP offers guidance for large change initiative that involves major risk. Because of the size, duration and the many different interests and influences by many stakeholders, strategic changes need strong leadership. MSP offers an approach to the different areas to lead and manage change.

It is well known that strategic change contains large risks. Take-overs, cultural changes, strategic change, everyone knows examples of failing programmes. After initial enthusiasm there is a loss of interest, cynicism increases and business as usual will return. Despite attempts of the leadership change is not happening. Eventually the top lose credibility and contact with the ...

The leaders of an organisation decide that major change is necessary to keep playing a role in the future: different processes, less bureaucracy, another culture and more competitive. A County Council is faced with major long term healthcare issues. An aging population, obesity, drugs and alcohol addiction, etc. An radically new approach is necessary, involving a great number o ...