Tag Archives: MSP

TOAH and Programs

I am happy to announce a new article I wrote together with Henk Venema.

Programs are sometimes seen as a relic from the past; something from the time when we weren’t talking about agile working. In small organizations, this could very well be the case. Working together toward a commonly felt goal is easier when you must coordinate it with a handful of teams. However, in large organizations, the delivery processes are often longer and more complex. Even if autonomous teams with agile ways of working are already widely used, in the larger organizations many teams will soon have to work together to approach the common goal. And this is often so complex that even in such agile working organizations there is added value in working through a program towards the common goal. So even though there will be less of a need for a program approach, there will always be a need to organize certain complex changes through a program. But in a way that the benefits of a program organization go hand in hand with the benefits of an agile organization with autonomous teams working in an agile way. TOAH (The Organizational Agility Heartbeat) is a framework (https://toahframework.com/) that offers clear added value in that area as well. Where organizations with many teams need TOAH to allow the organization’s strategy to emerge through the agile teams via a quarterly rhythm, this same mechanism can be applied perfectly well to programs. After all, a program is designed to bring about a strategic change, a change that matters, a change that hurts an organization when things are not going well. Think of a change due to changing laws and regulations or a change with a fundamentally different way of approaching the market. The strategy can often not yet be specified ‘in concrete’. The ‘why’ and ‘what’ questions are often clear, but the ‘how’ question is certainly not yet. And that is precisely the crux of this article. A clear need for a new strategy interpretation in a way that we still (partly perhaps) must invent as an organization.

Experimentation and iterative and incremental work are deeply rooted in the agile way of working of autonomous teams. When this is coupled with a program execution where the delivery of the ‘how’ takes place along incremental paths, this also places demand on the way the program is executed. This will not have to behave along the classical axis of ‘requirements carved in stone’ but as a mechanism that periodically asks itself whether the way in which the change is designed ultimately also realizes the strategy. Or perhaps even make the original strategy change because of advancing insight. A wonderful symbiosis between program coordination and agile execution with a crucial role for TOAH.

This article will explain this through several aspects.

  • What is the essence of TOAH?
  • What are programs and what added value does a program approach provide?
  • How does TOAH connect program coordination with agile execution in the teams?
  • How can you use Obeya to make program governance work optimally with agile teams?
  • TOAH in collaboration with existing (program) approaches
    • AgilePgM
    • MSP
    • SAFe

The article leads to the following conclusion:

  • Even in agile organizations with agile teams, programs continue to have added value, provided that:
    • The program execution leaves the HOW to the agile teams
    • Program execution intertwines with scaled agile processes.
  • TOAH is the link between programs and agile teams
    • Both methodological (TOAH and agile program management)
    • As in practical execution
  • TOAH provides a pragmatic tool within existing program management methods such asAgilePgM and MSP to ensure a recognizable delivery pattern of business skills where tranches are synchronized and within tranches periodic adjustments are possible.

The article is available at:

Project Design Management: TOAH E PROGRAMAS:

Brief comparison between MSP 5th edition and MSP 2011 edition

After nine years there is a new edition of the Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) guide. It’s a best practice so I assume the changes will be incremental and not a revolution.

Good to see that the guide is 80 pages less (now 224 pages) and I really like the four scenario’s which are used to show what specific topics mean for the different scenarios. The four used scenarios are the national rail network programme, the bank compliance and adaptability programme, the charity organizational realignment programme, and the utilities maintenance and improvement programme.

The first thing you see when opening the guide is a summary or quick reference card of MSP. Looks like they embraced my idea to add a quick reference card as I did when writing the official Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 guide.

To get a first understanding of the differences, I will look at principles, themes, processes, organization and products. It is just a first impression; I will not go into the details where you will probably find many more differences.

Programmes aligned with MSP are directed by principles which are universal, self-validating and empowering.

MSP 5th editionMSP 2011 edition
Lead with purposeLeading change 
Envisioning and communicating a better future
Collaborate across boundaries
Deal with ambiguity
Align with prioritiesRemaining aligned with corporate strategy
Deploy diverse skills
Realize measurable benefitsDesigning and delivering a coherent capability
Focusing on the benefits and threats to them
Bring pace and valueAdding value
(Learning from experience)

Still seven principles but slightly different. Some are more or less combined and two new principles: collaborate across boundaries (to facilitate effective cross-organizational governance where it does not already exist) and deal with ambiguity (to embrace the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous nature of programmes and focuses attention on the need to make ‘eyes-open’ choices). Learning from experience is now incorporated in the new knowledge theme.

Themes are essential aspects of governance required to ensure that the programme is aligned with the principles. Themes are collectively applied during the processes throughout the programme lifecycle.

MSP 5th editionMSP 2011 edition
OrganizationProgramme organization
Leadership and stakeholder engagement
Benefits management
Blueprint design and delivery
justificationThe business case
StructurePlanning and control
Benefits management
KnowledgeQuality and assurance management
AssuranceQuality and assurance management
Risk and issue management

The MSP 5th edition uses 7 themes and the old MSP 2011 edition uses 9 themes. As we can see, several old themes are combined, and some are divided across the new themes. Two themes are more or less new. The purpose of the knowledge theme is to acquire, curate, and use knowledge, to use knowledge and experience to learn lessons, and to build a culture and practice of continual improvement and to manage information to ensure its integrity, controlled access to the right versions, and data privacy (this last part was covered in the information management part of the quality and assurance theme). 

The decisions as a separate theme is new. Of course, the old guide spoke about decisions too but now it get much more emphasis. The purpose of this theme is how programmes make decisions at various points across the programme lifecycle, whether those decisions be related to resolving issues, responding to risks, or any other choice requiring a considered and governed approach and it’s the prerequisites for effective decision-making within programmes. The CHAOS Report’ 2018 from the Standish Group sees decision latency as one of the key factors why so many projects fail. In other words, if you want to improve project success, you have to speed up your decision-making. So it makes sense to have a dedicated theme for decision making.

The lifecycle (in the previous edition this was called the transformational flow) of any programme is incremental. Programmes are designed to deliver benefits of value to stakeholders throughout the programme lifecycle. As new information becomes available, adjustments are made. Programme management requires a focus on learning, design, and redesign of the progression towards the desired future state.

MSP 5th editionMSP 2011 edition
Identify the programmeIdentifying a Programme
Design the outcomesDefining a Programme
Managing the Tranche
Plan progressive deliveryManaging the Tranche
Deliver the capabilitiesDelivering the capabilities
Embed the outcomesRealizing the benefits
Evaluate new informationManaging the Tranche
Close the programmeClosing a Programme

MSP 5th edition contains one additional process. The old process Managing the Trance is now divided across the processes design the outcomes, plan progressive delivery and evaluate new information.

No major changes to the structure and roles.

MSP 5th editionMSP 2011 edition
Sponsoring groupSponsoring group
Programme boardProgramme board
Programme officeProgramme office
Senior responsible owner (SRO)Senior responsible owner (SRO)
Programme ManagerProgramme Manager
Business Change Manager (BCM)
(only one in the programme board)
Business Change Manager(s) (BCM’s)

The last part of the comparison are the products. There is no division in boundary, governance or management information baselines.

MSP 5th editionMSP 2011 edition
Benefits profileBenefits profile
Benefits mapBenefits map
Business caseBusiness case
Decision register
Issue registerIssue register
Programme briefProgramme brief
Programme definition document
Programme mandateProgramme mandate
Programme plans:
– Delivery planProgramme plan
Projects dossier
Resource management plan
Information management plan
– Benefits realization planBenefits realization plan
– Stakeholder engagement and communications planProgramme communications plan
– Assurance planQuality and assurance plan
– Financial plan
Programme preparation plan
Programme strategy:
– Governance approachOrganization structure
– Stakeholder engagement and communications approachStakeholder engagement strategy
– Design approachBenefits management strategy
– Funding approach
– Delivery approachMonitoring and control strategy
– Resourcing approachResource management strategy
– Knowledge and learning approach
– Information approachInformation management strategy
– Assurance approachQuality and assurance strategy
– Decision-making approach
– Issue resolution approachIssue management strategy
– Risk response approachRisk management strategy
Risk registerRisk register
Stakeholder profiles
Target operating model: processes, culture, organization, technology, infrastructure, information and data, knowledge and learningBlueprint: processes, organization, technology, information and data (POTI)
Vision statementVision statement

In the MSP 5th edition we see the following new documents: decision register, decision-making approach, the knowledge and learning approach, financial plan and the funding approach. Some documents are omitted or aren’t formal documents anymore, e.g. programme definition document, programme preparation plan and stakeholder profiles. The old strategy documents are now integrated into the programme strategy document.

A pity the health checks are omitted in this new version.

Conclusion: We can conclude that the MSP 5th edition is not a revolution. The usage of the four scenario’s makes it much simpler to understand the different topics. The quick reference card at the beginning is definitely helpful. Changes in principles, themes and processes are in line with the current way of working and support a more agile mindset.

To order Managing Successful Programmesmanagementboek.nlbol.comAmazon

Recensie: Benefits realization management

img_14721-kopieIn het boekje (white paper) ‘Benefits realization management’ neemt de auteur Ruud Kramer je mee in de wereld van benefits management. Met dit boekje wil hij aantonen dat het zinvol is om meer aandacht te geven aan batenmanagement. Daarnaast neemt hij je mee in zijn aanpak van Benefits Realization Management dat een nadere invulling is van het onderdeel Benefits Management van MSP.

Ik kom programmamanagers tegen die sterk focussen op de projecten in hun programma maar te weinig aandacht hebben voor het realiseren van de baten. Gebruik van methoden zoals MSP met het benoemen van Business Change Managers en deze BCM’ers verantwoordelijk maken voor het verzilveren van de baten helpt hierbij maar wordt lang niet altijd gevolgd.

Dit boekje kan prima gebruikt worden om het belang van batenmanagement aan te tonen en ideeën op te doen voor het invullen van batenmanagement, ongeacht de methode die je gebruikt. Het biedt handvatten voor het in kaart brengen en meetbaar maken van te realiseren baten, het optimaliseren van mogelijke baten en het gebruik bij het optimaliseren van een projectenportfolio. Ter ondersteuning wordt gebruik gemaakt van schermafdrukken van een batenmanagementtool (Wovex BRM-software).

Het boekje is onderverdeeld in drie hoofdstukken.

In het eerste hoofdstuk staat de Benefits Dependency Map centraal. Hoe breng je de oorzaak-gevolg relaties tussen doelen, uitkomsten, veranderinitiatieven en de lange termijnambities in kaart. De Benefits Dependency Map wordt stap voor stap opgebouwd aan de hand van een voorbeeld van een Integraal Werkplek Ontwikkelingsprogramma. Uitgaande van strategische ambitie (“start with the end in mind”) kan terug geredeneerd worden naar uiteindelijk de mogelijke veranderinitiatieven. Vervolgens maak je samen met gebruikers inschattingen van realistisch haalbare baten (KPI’s) en deze voeg je toe aan de Benefits Dependency Map. In overleg met de belangrijkste stakeholders kan de Map wellicht nog worden uitgebreid met additionele afgeleide doelen. Door de voor hen belangrijke baten te benoemen en te visualiseren en daar ook over te gaan rapporteren heb je een prima instrument om deze stakeholders betrokken te houden. Tenslotte kunnen in overleg met deze stakeholders randvoorwaarden benoemd worden en aan de Benefits Dependency Map worden toegevoegd.

Het tweede hoofdstuk geeft aan hoe je kan optimaliseren door het juiste scenario te kiezen. Niet alle baten zijn even belangrijk. In overleg met de stakeholders kunnen aan de verschillende baten wegingsfactoren worden gehangen zodat subjectieve meningen worden geobjectiveerd. Voegt men vervolgens bij de verschillende initiatieven de mate van ontwikkeling toe (niets doen, brons, zilver, goud) dan kan men verschillende scenario’s creëren door te variëren met de mate van ontwikkeling en wat dat betekent voor de te realiseren baten (What-if dashboard). Op basis hiervan kan vervolgens de stap gezet worden naar de hiervoor noodzakelijke producten of processen (lees output van projecten) en de daarbij behorende projecten en lijnactiviteiten.

Het laatste hoofdstuk gaat over de opvolging. Waar staan we met de batenrealisatie, moeten we corrigerende maatregelen nemen? Meten van zowel tussen- als eindresultaten moet het benodigde inzicht leveren. Door in een dashboard de performance indicatoren zichtbaar te maken en te laten zien hoe deze indicatoren zich ontwikkelen in de tijd gezien krijgt met een krachtig instrument om te volgen of we de gewenste baten gaan halen en of er eventuele acties genomen moeten worden.


Een leuk boekje om batenmanagement over het voetlicht te brengen. Middels het stappenplan en de vele plaatjes wordt de kracht van batenmanagement en de Benefits Dependency Map helder neergezet en krijgt men een goed beeld dat voor het bereiken van succes er meer nodig is dan alleen het afronden van projecten.

Zie ook http://www.bizfits.nl

Review: Transforming business with program management

transCRC Press sent me the book Transforming business with program management by Satish P. Subramanian. The book is part of their Best Practices and Advances in Program Management Series.

The book is build around a roadmap for transformation program success and every component is covered in a chapter:

• Problem
• Vision
• Sponsorship
• Governance
• Outcomes
• Approach
• Engagement
• Leadership
• Monitor
• Transition

Dia1In total 15 key techniques to facilitate successful business transformation are described in these chapters. See the attached figure showing the 15 techniques and the program lifecycle. For every key technique you will get an overview, objective, approach and detailed steps to be taken. Every chapter ends with a related case study. To download: QRC (A holistic, structured, and rigorous PgM)

The 15 explained techniques are:

  1. Environment scanning
  2. Voice-of-customer
  3. Strategic alignment
  4. Business performance calibration
  5. Program value justification
  6. Governance modeling
  7. Governance policy design
  8. Performance improvement measurement
  9. Business-outcome modeling
  10. Program architecture
  11. Organization change management
  12. Transformation program planning
  13. Stakeholder expectation management
  14. Value-enhancement analysis
  15. Walk through

The book compares the explained four-phase program lifecycle with the PMI standard for Program Management. For the users of MSP I made the comparison too.


Great book describing a complete program management method including many techniques which can be applied within other programme management frameworks too.

A little bit confusing are the different life cycles in the book. The book itself is constructed around a roadmap for transformation program success (from Problem – Vision – Sponsoring… to Monitor – Transition). There is a four phase / eight step program lifecycle (from Formulate program strategy … to Sustain outcome delivery) and there is a solution life cycle (from Business problem defined … to Business outcome sustained) and in the text there are references to the transformation lifecycle.

And not clear why their is a last chapter Executive summary  because the first chapter Executive overview describes more or less the same.

To order the book: Transforming business with program management

MSP Stakeholder management: The Stakeholder Register

Last week I published a refresh of MSP’ Stakeholder management. Based on feedback I updated the document. To download: MSP (Stakeholder management, 141128) v1.0. E.g. various people responded on the Communication Plan. They call it Engagement Plan, Commitment Plan or Intervention Plan. In MSP it’s called Communication Plan but the other names cover the purpose of the plan too, so choose the one that suits you best. Also I received feedback on the Stakeholder Map. Dia2I added the Stakeholder Influence/Interest matrix as shown in the MSP manual and the stakeholder position (strongly supportive, neutral and opponent) and who needs to become supportive for the programme to be successful, is shown too in this map.


To save time, and become not too bureaucratic, you can use the Stakeholder Register as a substitute for your Stakeholder Profiles. I attached a spreadsheet, which can fulfil this role.

Dia4To download:  Programme name (Stakeholder Register, 141128) v1.0

Success with the Stakeholder Register!

MSP: Stakeholder management, a refresh

I received questions regarding clarification of stakeholder management from various people. This is a good opportunity to refresh some MSP theory regarding stakeholder management.

Dia1In the middle of the picture you see the Stakeholder Engagement Strategy (0). This strategy, prepared by the Programme Manager during Defining the Programme, describes the framework that will enable effective stakeholder engagement and communication. In other words, the strategy, like all other strategies within PRINCE2 or MSP describes the HOW.

In this article I describe all the steps (Identify-Analyse-Plan-Engage-Measure) and I will give outlines of the relevant stakeholder engagement documents too:

  • Stakeholder Map
  • Stakeholder Profiles
  • Stakeholder Register
  • Stakeholder influence/interest matrix, power/interest matrix
  • Communications Plan

To download the article: MSP (Stakeholder management, 141121) v1.0

Success with the engagement of your stakeholders.

Book review: MSP Survival Guide for Business Change Managers

default.aspxRod Snowden wrote the book MSP Survival Guide for Business Change Managers for those who are Business Change Manager (BCM) – one of the key roles – in a programme. You will get practical advise about your role and your responsibilities looking at themes and the transformational flow in a programme.

If you are the BCM there is no need anymore to read the official Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) guide. This book provides you with the key concepts from MSP and is divided in three parts: Introduction to programme management, the governance themes (the biggest part of the book) and the transactional flow. In the appendices you get an overview of the information baselines: boundary, Governance and management documents and you get your involvement as a BCM with specific MSP documents. E.g. the Benefit profile is a document you write, where e.g. programme manager writes the blueprint but you will provide most of the details. Etc…


Governance Themes:

  • Programme organization
  • Vision and blueprints
  • Benefits management
  • Leadership and stakeholder engagement
  • Risk and issue management
  • Planning and control
  • The business case
  • Quality and assurance management

Transformational flow:

  • Identifying a Programme
  • Defining a Programme
  • Managing the tranches
  • Delivering the capabilities
  • Realizing the benefits
  • Closing a Programme

All the themes will be discussed in such a way that the following questions will be answered:

  • What does the official MSP manual have to say (brief extract)?
  • What does this mean to you?
  • What is your role and the relationship with the other roles in a programme (SRO, PgM, other BCMs and Programme Office)?

For all processes as part of the transformational flow you will get answers on the following questions:

  • What does MSP have to say?
  • What are the recommended actions you have to take?

This book is much more accessible for you as a BCM than the official MSP manual. On several places it goes beyond the MSP manual when describing your role and responsibility. On the other hand it’s a pity that the chapter about realizing the benefits is as summarized as all the other process related chapters. This process is especially designed for you as a BCM. And I would expect much more details to help you as a BCM what you have to do during pre-transition, transition and post-transition.


Lost in standards

Dia1In the last “projectie, edition 04-2014”, the bi-monthly magazine of ipma-nl, I published a Dutch article about the many methods and frameworks that are available in the field of portfolio, programme and project management. To download: Verdwaald in het standaardenbos IPMA Projectie magazine 04-2014 I created a sort of quick reference card with available standards and frameworks (It’s limited, there are many more). To download: standards-qrc-170129-v1-9

In the middle of the quick reference card you find a generic model with portfolio, programme and project management as horizontal boxes. Behind these boxes you will find vertical boxes with PMO, IT, benefits management, value management and risk management to support project, programme and portfolio management. And as the background I used two triangles representing the people and maturity of project, programme and portfolio management. From this model I made connections with several well-known organizations that develop and own standards. E.g. Axelos as the owner of PRINCE2, MSP, MoP, MoV, MoR, P3M3 and ITIL or PMI as the owner of PMBoK, The standard for Portfolio Management, The standard for Programme Management, OPM3, etc. You will also find AMPG, APM, IPMA and several suppliers of Agile/Scrum as well as some ISO models. dia1 In the Dutch article, I focus on the usage of these standards. It’s not that simple that you only have to select a project management method. Je must be aware that it will not be possible to implement all your ideas and ambitions. You have to select the right initiatives. This will ask for a portfolio management method. To realize your strategic objectives, you need more than only projects. You will run programmes too, asking for a programme management method. Besides temporary project and programme offices you probably need a permanent portfolio office as well as a centre of excellence to communicate, support and train staff to use these standards and best practices.

At a certain moment you want to know were you are from a maturity view, in comparison with others, and based on your own ambition you would like to know the gap you have to bridge. It will be beneficial for an organization if all these models or frameworks are connected to each other. As a rule of thumb, I would advice an organization to choose for either Axelos or PMI as the starting point and combine your choice with the competence baseline from IPMA. If you choose e.g. for PRINCE2, it makes sense to choose for MSP and MoP for your programme and portfolio management. For maturity scans you look at P3M3 because that’s in line with these standards. Your temporary and permanent PMO will be supported by P3O, etc. For supplementary techniques you could make use of the PMBoK from PMI.

Or, when you started with the PMI family, it makes sense to combine this with the project or programme board approaches from PRINCE2 and MSP and the usage of business cases as described in PRINCE2 9789401800068_CoverLR-541x850I am one of the authors of the book Global standards and publications, edition 2014/2015, Van Haren Publishing. You can download a free copy of this book. http://www.vanharen.net/file/PDF/9789401800068.pdf Please let me know if you are aware of new standards that are worthwhile to mention in this QRC.

for a comparison between PRINCE2 and PMBoK see the overview from KnowledgeTrain: Comparison PRINCE2/PMBoK


  • 17/01/29: Added PM2 Project Management Methodology from The European Commission
  • 17/01/29: Added Scrum @ Scale from Srcuminc.com
  • 16/01/23: Added Nexus (Scaled Professional Scrum) from Scrum.org
  • 15/10/04: IPMA ICB3 replaced with ICB4
  • 15/07/07: Added new Axelos framework PRINCE2 Agile
  • 15/05/27: Added Change mgt vertical + CMBoK (Change Management body of Knowledge) + CHAMPS2
  • 15/04/24: Added ISO 21500 project, 21503 programme, 21504 portfolio, 21505 Governance, 21506 Vocabulary
  • 15/02/24: Added CCPM (Goldratt), CMMi, Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS)
  • 14/10/21: Added Exin Agile Scrum from EXIN
  • 14/09/29: Added Agile Programme Management (Agile PgM) from APMG
  • 14/09/29: Added PRiSM™ (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods) from GPM
  • 14/09/29: Added Portfolio, Program & Project Sustainability Model (PSM3) from GPM

P3M3 Quick Reference Card

Many organizations have invested in setting up a PMO, implemented methods and frameworks like PRINCE2, MSP and MoP, and organized training to qualify staff. But sometimes they still don’t see the return on their investment. Some projects or programmes delivered well and others are at risk or complete disasters and the can’t answer the question why?

Organizations that are not mature can still deliver outstanding results but at the same time other projects could be a complete failure. The successes are probably due to individual competences and what will happen when these people will leave the organization? The methods and frameworks are probably not embedded into the way the organization functions. A maturity model will help you to understand your current maturity level and highlights those areas where performance improvements will give the most value in the short and long terms. There are several maturity models:

  • PMI: Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3)
  • CO: Portfolio, Programme, Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3)
  • CO: PRINCE2 Maturity Model (P2M3), subset of P3M3: only Project Maturity Model to level 3 only
  • SEI: Capability Maturity Model (CMMi)
  • ITSMF: IT Service Management Capability Maturity Model (ITSM-CMM), aligned to ITIL

In this blog post I show you a quick reference card of the P3M3 model, in a next one I will go into the coming version of the OPM3 model from PMI. To download: P3M3 (QRC, 130301) v1.0


MSP manual supporting tabs, a helping aid to pass your MSP practitioner exam

I am happy to announce that as of now, MSP practitioner candidates can make use of a simple aid to quickly find your way in the official MSP manual during e.g. your exam. These tabs (place marks) are developed in line with the successful tabs I developed for the PRINCE2 manual. The Best Practices User Group is the publisher of this aid.

You can order your copy at MSP manual suporting tabs

Due to the success of the PRINCE2 tabs the BPUG had already re-printed the PRINCE2 version and I am already aware of the first copycat.

I am looking forward to your reactions and of course a lot of success when you are studying for the MSP Practitioner exams