What We Liked
In the Introduction, we learned that:
"This manual is not intended to be read from cover to cover. It is a reference guide designed to help those involved in programs to understand how business transformation should be delivered and their roles in this. In addition to this Introduction, it is recommended that all readers familiarize themselves as a minimum with Chapter 2 'Program management principles', Chapter 3 'Governance Themes overview' and Chapter 13 'Transformational Flow' to gain a good overview of MSP."
We did have some difficulty with the definition of Program Management, which definition should provide the very bedrock of this standard. However, we'll get to that in a later next section. Meantime, the essence of the document's content is illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1: MSP Framework and concepts
At the core of the diagram is an illustration of the "Transformational Flow". This is a Peter-Senge-like reciprocal flow-of-influence system that demonstrates both the progressive and repetitious nature of a program because, in Senge's words: "In systems thinking it is an axiom that every influence is both a cause and effect."
The second ring lists the key topics covered by Part 2 of the Guide, topics that are generally covered by project management but elaborated to reflect the larger environment of a program. With one exception, that is Benefits Realization Management. We'll look at this topic in the next section.
The outer ring lists a set of topics that are referred to as "Principles". However, as we look at the seven labels shown, they appear to us to be more like "practices" rather than "principles". That is because practices may be defined as "The usual, traditional, or commonly recommended way of doing things", while principles may be defined as "A comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption". In fact, although these items are displayed with prominence in the outer ring, they receive only summary mention in one brief Chapter 2.
So, the major focus of Part 2 of the Guide is on the topics shown in the second ring, each receiving a separate chapter, starting with Chapter 4, and each of which is introduced by a diagram such as that shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: A clear and effective organization is critical to success
Generally, the contents of the associated "hopper" reflected the contents of the ensuing chapter - but not always. However, in Chapter 3, we encountered an interesting graphic as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Senior Responsible Owner and the Program Board
We have to ask this question: If, as shown, the Program Board is "Delivering capability" and "Realizing benefits" then what is the Program Office supposed to be doing?
8. Ibid, p9
9. Senge, Peter, M., The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization, Doubleday, NY, 1990, p75
10. Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms
11. Ibid, [D03166]
12. Managing Successful Programmes, The Stationery Office, 2007, Chapter 4, p27
13. Ibid, p30