MSP Foundation – Organization and Programme Office

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Establishing a clear and effective organization is critical to programme success. Ensuring that the programme organization meets the needs of the programme in its context is an initial and ongoing task that cannot be avoided, dealt with lightly or done one and then forgotten.

Before proceeding, just a quick reminder that all page references are from the MSP® manual, so if you haven’t bought it yet then I strongly advise you do so. You can order it directly from Amazon below.

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Organization and Programme Office

For the foundation exam you have to know facts, terms and concepts, specifically recall the:

=> Defined roles (pages 37 to 46):

  1. Sponsoring Group: represents those senior managers who are responsible for, the investment decision; defining the direction of the business; ensuring the ongoing overall alignment of the programme with the strategic direction of the organization.
  2. Senior Responsible Owner (SRO): accountable for the programme, ensuring that it meets its objectives and realizes the expected benefits.
  3. Programme Board: established by the SRO, the prime purpose of the programme board will be to drive the programme forward and deliver the outcomes and benefits.
  4. Programme Manager: responsible for leading and managing the setting-up of the programme through to delivery of the new capabilities, realization of benefits and programme closure.
  5. Business Change Manager (BCM): responsible for realizing the resultant benefits by embedding that capability into business operations, and facilitating business changes to exploit that capability.
  6. Business Change Team: formed to help each of the BCMs take their stakeholders in their operational areas through the change cycle. Focus on helping the operational unit through transition as smoothly as possible. Support function.
  7. Programme Office: never centre and information hub of a programme. All information, communication, monitoring and control activities for the programme are coordinated through the programme office. Provides support and guidance to the projects and initiatives. Home for governance and control, including standards, approvals, financial monitoring, assurance, provision of health checks etc. must be independent of the initiatives.


=> Three features of an effective programme organization (page 36):

  • Defined roles
  • Clear accountabilities and responsibilities of each of these roles
  • Management structures and reporting arrangements

=> Typical membership of:

  1. Sponsoring group (page 37):
    • senior managers responsible for:
      • investment decision
      • defining the direction of the business
      • ensuring the ongoing overall alignment of the programme with the strategic direction of the organization
    • existing executive committee, or other board of the organization
  2. Programme board (page 39):
    • Senior Responsible Owner
    • Programme Manager
    • Business Change Manager/s
    • Optional: project executives, representatives of corporate functions, lead supplier

=> Programme office (page 45):

  • Core functions:
    • nerve centre
    • information hub of a programme
  • Two distinct roles:
    • support and guidance to the projects and initiatives
    • home for governance and control

=> The purpose of the organization structure (pages 36, 242):

  • Describes management roles, responsibilities and reporting lines in the programme
  • Support decision-making and management
  • ensure that commitment to the programme is maintained

=> Sponsoring group purpose and responsibilities (pages 37, 38, 287):

  • Purpose: provide investment decision and top-level endorsement for the rationale and objectives of the programme.
  • Responsibilities:
    • Providing and ensuring the continuing organizational context for the programme.
    • Authorizing the programme mandate.
    • Authorizing programme definition.
    • Participating in end-of-tranche reviews and approving progression to the next tranche of the programme.
    • Authorizing funding for the programme.
    • Resolving strategic and directional issues between programmes, which need the input and agreement of senior stakeholders to ensure the progress of the change.
    • Authorizing the organization’s strategic direction against which the programme is to deliver.
    • Authorizing the progress of the programme against the strategic objectives
    • Leading by example to implement the values implied by the transformational change.
    • Providing continued commitment and endorsement in support of the programme objectives at executive and communications events.
    • Appointing, advising and supporting the SRO.
    • Authorizing the vision statement.
    • Authorizing delivery and sign-off at the closure of the programme.

=> Programme board purpose and responsibilities (pages 39, 40, 286):

  • Purpose: support a Senior Responsible Owner in delivering a programme.
  • Responsibilities:
    • Defining the acceptable risk profile and risk thresholds for the programme and its constituent projects.
    • Ensuring that the programme delivers within its agreed boundaries.
    • Resolving strategic and directional issues between projects, which need the input and agreement of senior stakeholders to ensure the progress of the programmes.
    • Assuring the integrity of benefit profiles and realization plan.
    • Maintaining focus on the development, maintenance and achievement of the blueprint.
    • Providing assurance for operational stability and effectiveness through the programme delivery cycle.

=> Senior Responsible Owner purpose and responsibilities (pages 38, 287):

  • Purpose: lead the programme board, direct the programme and take decisions.
  • Responsibilities:
    • Creating and communicating the vision for the programme.
    • Providing clear leadership and direction throughout its life.
    • Securing the investment required to set up and run the programme, and fund the transition activities so that the desired benefits are realized.
    • Ensuring that the programme delivers a coherent capability, achieves its strategic outcome and realizes its benefits.
    • Establishing the programme’s governance arrangements and ensuring appropriate assurance is in place.
    • Ensuring the viability of the business case.
    • Maintaining the interface with key senior stakeholders, keeping them engaged and informed.
    • Monitoring the key strategic risks facing the programme.
    • Maintaining alignment of the programme with the organization’s strategic direction.
    • Commissioning assurance and audit reviews.
    • Ensuring the effectiveness and performance of the programme organization.
    • Appointing, chairing and setting priorities for the programme board.

=> Programme Manager purpose and responsibilities (pages 40, 41, 286):

  • Purpose: lead and manage the set-up of the programme through to delivery of the new capabilities, realization of benefits and programme closure.
  • Responsibilities:
    • Day-to-day management of the programme.
    • Day-to-day agent on behalf of the SRO.
    • Planning and designing the programme and proactively monitoring its overall progress, resolving issues and initiating corrective action as appropriate.
    • Developing and implementing the programme’s governance framework.
    • Effective coordination of the projects and their interdependencies.
    • Managing and resolving any risks and other issues that may arise.
    • Maintaining overall integrity and coherence of the programme, and developing and maintaining the programme environment to support each individual project within it.
    • Managing the programme’s budget, monitoring the expenditures and costs against benefits as the programme progresses.
    • Facilitating the appointment of individuals to the project delivery teams.
    • Ensuring that the delivery of outputs or services from the projects meets programme requirements in line with the programme blueprint and projects dossier, and is to the appropriate quality, on time and within budget.
    • Facilitating the development of the blueprint with input and approval of the BCMs.
    • Managing the blueprint and ensuring that the capabilities delivering are aligned with it.
    • Managing the performance of the programme team.
    • Maximizing the efficient allocation of resources and skills within the projects dossier.
    • Managing internal and external suppliers to the programme.
    • Managing communications with stakeholders.
    • Initiating extra activities and other management interventions wherever gaps in the programme are identified or issues arise.
    • Reporting progress of the programme at regular intervals to the SRO.

=> Business Change Manager(s) purpose and responsibilities (pages 41 – 43, 284):

  • Purpose: identify and realize benefits. Ensure that the right capabilities are delivered and that they are put to best use.
  • Responsibilities:
    • Maintain the focus on realizing beneficial change.
    • Contributing to the development of the benefits management strategy.
    • Ensure that the development and business responsibility for the benefit profiles and the benefits realization plan are clearly attributed.
    • Identifying, defining and tracking the benefits and outcomes required of the programme.
    • Designing the future operating model and ensuing that it is contained and maintained within the programme blueprint.
    • Identifying organization changes that happen outside the boundary of the programme, which may affect the contents of the blueprint.
    • Preparing their sections of the organization for change.
    • Identifying opportunities and realizing benefits that arise during the programme, which might not have been originally profiled, and ensuring that the achievements are recognized.
    • Ensuring effective communications with all areas of the business that they represent.
    • Identifying and monitoring the performance metrics used to track the operational ‘health’ of organization.
    • Implementing the mechanisms by which benefits can be realized and measured.
    • Monitoring business stability and ongoing capacity to cope with the level of change; this will include acceptable levels of performance variation (deterioration) whilst the change is embedded.
    • Reporting to the SRO on the readiness to change, achievement of outcomes and realization of benefits.
    • Advising the programme manager whether the work of the programme and each project covers the necessary aspects required to deliver the products/outputs and services/outcomes that will achieve the blueprint and lead to benefits.
    • Ensuring that there is no double-counting of benefits for which they are responsible.
    • Preparing the affected business areas for the transition to new ways of working; potentially, implementing new business processes.
    • Ensuring that business stability is maintained during the transition and that the changes are effectively integrated into the business.
    • Initiating business assurance reviews to ensure that capabilities are being embedded and established.
    • Optimizing the timing of the release of project deliverables into business operations.
    • Notifying delivery of expected benefits.
    • Monitoring actual outcomes against predicted results.

=> Business change team purpose and responsibilities (pages 45, 284):

  • Purpose: help each of the BCMs take their stakeholders in their operational areas through the change cycle. Help the operational unit through transition as smoothly as possible. Be a support function.
  • Responsibilities: support a BCM in the business change management aspects of benefits realization.

=> Purpose of the programme office (pages 45, 261, 262, 264):

Acts as the conscience and support body for the SRO and programme board. Provide advice and challenge on what decisions the SRO and programme board need to take. Valuable source of intelligence in relation to the health of the constituent elements of the programme.

=> Areas of focus of each of the following roles for the governance theme organization (page 50):

  1. Senior Responsible Owner (SRO):
    • Ensuring that the programme has the necessary skills, resources and experience required to deliver the change.
    • Putting clear lines of authority in place.
    • Ensuring that sponsoring group members have a clear understanding of their roles.
    • Appointment of the programme manager.
    • Approval of the BCM appointment by the sponsoring group members.
  2. Programme Manager:
    • Design and appointment of the programme team.
    • Appointment of the programme office.
    • Facilitating the appointment of project management teams.
    • Ensuring that all roles have clearly defined responsibilities.
    • Ensuring that the organization design is managed through the programme lifecycle.
    • Induction of new members into the programme team.
    • Line management of the programme team.
    • Efficiency and competency of resources being deployed.
  3. Business Change Manager (BCM):
    • Design and appointment of the business change team.
    • Induction and management of members into the business change team.
    • Development and performance of the individuals in the business change team
  4. Programme Office:
    • Maintenance of organization information.
    • Advice and guidance on roles and responsibilities within the programme team.
    • Support in recruitment and appointments.

=> Project board roles that could be fulfilled by those with programme manager responsibilities (page 47):

  • Programme Manager could have project executive/owner role in projects that are central to the programme.
  • BCM may fulfil the senior user or project executive role on the project board.

Managing Successful Programmes – Foundation content guide (hyperlinks will be added as posts become available):

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