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

Published here February, 2009.

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For those not familiar with European practice in general and UK practice in particular, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is a UK government body that has several branches, one of which deals with project management. OGC develops guides and best practice handbooks to be used by government departments and related organizations. Managing Successful Programs (MSP) is one of several in the project management arena, one of which is the flag ship Managing Successful Projects known as PRINCE2 that we have reviewed elsewhere in these web pages.

In this case, MSP is the bible on program management for most public bodies in the UK. However, like the Project Management Institute's Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge in the US, it may be questioned as to what extent practitioners actually fully understand the contents. And, if they do understand the contents, to what extent they actually apply them with any rigor!

Nevertheless, if like us, you are better able to absorb concepts depicted in diagrams and charts and adapt them to the circumstances at hand, then this latest update of the Managing Successful Programs Guide will be an asset. However, if you learned the previous version and are now studying the textual content with a view to taking training and testing, then you may be dismayed by the extent of change in detail and direction. Then again, if you are an MSP consultant you will probably be delighted. Here is an example of what you can do.

"A public sector organization initiated a small project to set up a health and safety help desk, the project brief being to install a call-logging system, telephony and minor role changes. The consultant used the Vision Statement as a tool to define the end game; the senior management team realized the full implication on their current ways of working and organizational structure, which a broader realignment to deal with this new customer engagement route required. This led to a program of change affecting a large number of staff. A standard project output approach to the requirement would have delivered technology and tools effectively, but not have achieved the change, and the money would have been wasted. MSP techniques are not only applicable to large-scale change."[30]

So, there you have it. Given the extent of redirection in the current update of the MSP Guide, it remains to be seen just how much clear agreement there is, even in the UK and Europe, as to exactly what the scope of "program management" really is.

R. Max Wideman
Fellow, PMI

Downside  Downside

30. Ibid, p218
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