Note: U.S. spelling
has been adopted throughout.

Published here February, 2009.

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked
Benefits Realization Management | Downside | Summary

Managing Successful Programs (MSP) has been completely rewritten and takes on an almost entirely new perspective. As Sally Collier[1] explains in her Foreword:

"The origins of Managing Successful Programs (MSP) can be traced back to the practices of the best policy makers in Government. Even though they may not have realized it at the time, they were using many of the tools that are now associated with good program[2] management to successfully transform policy into desired outcomes and, essentially, benefits.
Realization of benefits is, of course, the ultimate goal and this latest version of MSP explores this in greater detail. It includes guidance on managing benefits throughout the program. There is also a comprehensive view on governance that looks at organization, control, leadership and roles."

We have serious reservations about this dramatic shift in focus, as we discuss later under Downside. Nevertheless, a formal discussion of the "realization of benefits" is welcome information.

This new MSP document now consists of 258 pages compared to the 158 pages of the previous version of MSP. There are also double the number of illustrations. This general increase in content does provide more explicit direction, but it also takes program management responsibility well into the area of actually garnering the benefits of the outputs of projects. While this information is most useful and as we shall discuss later, it may not sit well with the operations people responsible for doing the actual work of the organization's mandate.

This version of MSP also gives greater prominence to the idea of "tranches". Originally, this word meant things like "loans, borrowings, mortgages",[3] but in MSP it simply means: "A group of projects structured around distinct step changes in capability and benefit delivery".[4] In other words, a logical collection of projects that together bring about a significant measurable advance. Consequently, tranches are established in succession and are at the heart of the MSP concept. This assumes, of course, that the nature of the program is definitive, rather than exploratory[5] as in research and development.

This in turn relies on another uncommon term used in MSP, namely the "Blueprint". As in the previous version of MSP, Blueprint means: "A model of the business or organization, its working practices and processes, the information it requires and the technology that will be needed to deliver the capability described in the Vision Statement."[6]


1. Executive Director, Office of Government Commerce
2. UK spelling of "Programs"
3. Proximity/Franklin US English Thesaurus
4. Managing Successful Programmes, The Stationery Office, 2007, Glossary p249
5. Often referred to as a "voyage of discovery"
6. Managing Successful Programmes, The Stationery Office, 2007, Glossary p245
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