MSP Foundation – Planning and Control

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Planning and control are key to the success of any transformation programme and should be seen as distinctly separate concepts and activities.

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.

For further information on the MSP® certifications, please download the MSP® syllabus, or visit

Planning and Control

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

=> Definition of a resource (page 109):

Any input required by a project or programme is known as a ‘resource’. The term covers people, assets, materials, funding and services.

=> The purpose of:

  1. Monitoring and control strategy (page 241): defines how the programme will apply internal controls to itself.
  2. Programme plan (page 243): used to control and track the progress and delivery of the programme and resulting outcomes.
  3. Projects dossier (page 244): provides a list of projects required to deliver the blueprint, with high-level information and estimates.
  4. Resource management plan (page 245): arrangements for implementing the resource management strategy.
  5. Resource management strategy (page 246): used to identify how the programme will acquire and manage the resources required to achieve the business change.

=> The type of content of a projects dossier (page 244):

  • The list of projects, with descriptions and their objectives, which will be required to deliver the capability defined in the blueprint.
  • Outline information on outputs and resource requirements needed to deliver them
  • Timescales and dependencies associated with each project, including dependencies on other projects.
  • Detail on initial requirements for each project, drawn from the blueprint.
  • High-level budgets allocated to individual projects that were used in the creation of the business case.
  • Links showing what contribution each project and major activity will make to the programme blueprint and benefits.
  • Issues and risks relating to the delivery of each project.

=> Main areas of focus for the governance theme planning and control of:

  1. Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) (page 119):
    • Consulting the sponsoring group and other key stakeholders, maintaining their buy-in, especially in preparing for and carrying out transition.
    • Leading the ongoing monitoring and review activities of the programme, mid-tranche and end-of-tranche, including commissioning formal reviews such as audits/health checks, if required.
    • Monitoring progress and direction of the programme at a strategic level and initiating management interventions where necessary.
    • Authorizing the resource management strategy.
    • Authorizing the monitoring and control strategy.
    • Ensuring that adequate assurance is designed into the control mechanisms.
    • Authorizing the projects dossier, programme plan, and the required monitoring and control activities.
  2. Programme manager (page 120):
    • Designing the projects dossier, resource management strategy, monitoring and control strategy and the required assurance activities.
    • Design of the programme plan.
    • Ensuring that the blueprint, programme plan, benefits realization plan and benefit profiles are consistent and able to deliver the business case and remain aligned.
    • Development of the resource management strategy and deployment of the plan.
    • Development of the monitoring and control strategy and its deployment.
    • Establishing and managing the appropriate governance arrangements for the programme and its projects.
    • Ensuring that key programme documentation is current.
    • Creation and issuing of project briefs Identifying and managing programme dependencies.
    • Progress-reporting to the SRO and the programme board on project, business case, programme plan and blueprint achievement.
    • Adjusting the projects dossier, blueprint and plans to optimize benefits realization.
    • Managing stakeholder expectations and participating in communications activities to inform stakeholders of progress and issues.
  3. Business Change Manager (BCM) (page 120):
    • Consulting with the programme manager on designing the projects dossier and scheduling the tranches and constituent projects to ensure that the transition will align with the required benefits realization.
    • Ensuring that changes are implemented in the business.
    • Ensuring that the business continues to operate effectively during the period of change.
    • Providing adequate and appropriate business and operational resources to the programme and its projects to ensure that outputs are designed, developed and assured to give them the best chance of enabling the scale of improvements required.
    • Making sure that operational functions are adequately prepared and ready to change when transition starts.
    • Ensuring that plans are in place to maintain business operations during the change process until transition and handover is complete; also providing input to the reviews.
    • Planning the transition within operational areas, accommodating requirements to maintain business operations.
    • Ensuring that the focus remains once transition is completed, to establish the new ways of working and ensure that old practices do not creep back.
  4. Programme office (page 120):
    • Supporting the development of planning, control and information management arrangements.
    • Gathering information and presenting progress reports on projects Supporting the programme manager in the development of reports.
    • Providing the programme teams with information and resources that can assist with the design of documentation.
    • Establishing and operating the programme’s information and configuration management systems, procedures and standards.
    • Collecting monitoring and measurement data and keeping the information up to date Collecting and presenting information on business performance.
    • Ensuring that there are coherent and common project-level standards in place for all document management arrangements for the programme.

=> Programme planning and programme control:

  • Programme planning (page 107): the preparation of the programme plan involves, processing large amounts of information; extensive consultation; building the plan. During its early iterations the programme plan will include many unknowns and a high level of ambiguity.
  • Programme control (page 108): provides supporting activities and processes that run throughout the lifecycle of the programme to: refine and improve delivery; minimize the impact of ambiguity; bring certainty wherever possible; justify the continuance of the programme. The management and control of the programme should be based on experiences from the previous tranches.

=> Ways that live projects are monitored (pages 213, 214):

  • Outputs: project outputs meet the requirements of their customers, which could be the programme itself
  • Timely completion: adhering to delivery forecasts, and reporting exceptions as soon as possible to ensure alignment with the programme plan and other dependencies
  • Estimates, costs and benefits: tolerance-tracking and estimating the contribution towards benefits realization, reporting exceptions quickly
  • Resources: confirming suitability and availability, including supplier performance
  • Scope: changes need to be formally managed to avoid insidious scope creep
  • Oversee project(s) progress, which will include the following tasks:
    • Review projects, and obtain information for benefit reviews and assessments
    • Deal with escalations and exceptions from projects
    • Manage dependencies and interfaces between projects with particular emphasis on making sure that projects understand how their outputs need to combine to achieve the desired outcomes
    • Check alignment with the requirements of the blueprint
    • Oversee quality with particular emphasis on making sure that project outputs will work well enough in a full-scale operational environment to achieve the benefits desired (in conjunction with the BCM)

=> Three types of dependencies that must be managed during a programme (page 114):

  • Internal dependencies that are within the programme: these are dependencies that can be managed within the boundary of the programme, and may reflect how the projects depend on each other to deliver the blueprint and the benefits.
  • Intra dependencies on other programmes or projects: these are the dependencies that are external to an individual programme but are still within the perimeter of the organization’s programme and project management environment, most likely linked to the scope of another programme or within a corporate portfolio.
  • External dependencies outside the programme environment: those dependencies that extend beyond the boundaries of all the programmes into other parts of the organization or even other organizations. These are dependencies that are outside of the control of the programme management environment, potentially in business operations, other partners, external dynamics such as legislation and strategic decisions and approvals.

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


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