MSP Foundation – Transformational Flow

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MSP Programmes are all about delivering transformational change. This part of the guide looks at how the transformation is achieved through a series of iterative, interrelated steps.

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 (affiliate link).

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

Transformational Flow

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

=> Six transformational flow processes (page 175):

Route through the lifecycle of a programme from its conception through to delivering new capability, transitioning to the desired outcomes, realizing benefits and finally on to the close of the programme:

  1. Identifying a Programme: Initial consideration of what the programme has to achieve and whether there is a justification for it should be set out at a high level in the first instance.
  2. Defining a Programme: Defining the detail of the programme and how it will be governed utilising the nine themes allows for a firm basis upon which the programme will achieve its objectives.
  3. Managing the tranches: This process describes the work which needs to be carried out as the programme progresses throughout its life.
  4. Delivering the Capability: This process provides guidance on what needs to be achieved in relation to successful project delivery.
  5. Realising the Benefits: This process describes what is required to transition project outputs into the business and how this will ultimately achieve the benefits required by the organisation.
  6. Closing the Programme: This process describes what is required to close the programme successfully including ensuring that the business case and benefits have been achieved.

=> Names and sequencing of the three distinct sets of activities undertaken during ‘Realizing the Benefits’ (page 219):

  • Manage pre-transition: the analysis, preparation and planning for business transformation
  • Manage transition: delivering and supporting the changes
  • Manage post-transition: reviewing progress, measuring performance and adapting to change

=> The purpose and type of contents of:

  1. Programme mandate (page 243):
    • Purpose: used to describe the required outcomes from the programme, based on strategic or policy objectives
    • Typical content:
      • The strategic objectives of the programme
      • The programme’s context and the organizations that are likely be involved and affected (internal and external)
      • Critical success factors against which the programme will be assessed
      • What the programme is intended to deliver in terms of organizational improvements from new services and/or operational capability
      • Boundaries within which the programme will work
      • Possible strategies and approaches for delivery
      • How the organization(s) involved will be improved as a result of delivering the new services/capability
      • Initial assurance arrangements
      • Expectations in terms of timescales and costs, benefits, potential constraints and deadlines that will need to be met
      • Information on current or anticipated initiatives that will be included within this programme (for emerging programmes)
      • Reference to any external drivers or pressures that may define the way in which the programme approaches the challenge: for example, where the driving force for change is coming from
      • Summary of the ‘as-is’ state – the starting point at which the programme is being commissioned
      • How the programme fits into the corporate mission and goals, and any other initiatives that are already under way or will be under way during the lifetime of the programme
      • Initial budget
  1. Programme brief (page 242):
    • Purpose: used to assess whether the programme is viable and achievable
    • Typical contents:
      • Outline vision statement for the programme, containing a clear statement of the end goal of the programme
      • Outline description of the benefits or types of benefits that should be delivered by the new capability, an estimate of when they are likely to be achieved, and an indication of how they will be measured (also including significant dis-benefits). This could take the form of a benefits map
      • Estimated costs, timescales and effort required to set up, manage and run the programme from initiation through to delivery and realization of the benefits
      • Risks to the programme that can be recognized at this point in time, any current issues that may affect the programme, and any known constraints, assumptions or conflicts that may potentially affect the programme. These should also reflect levels of stakeholder support and engagement
      • Options for delivery that are known about at this stage, including the potential impact of ‘do nothing’
      • An initial listing of the candidate projects or activities required, together with rough timescales and explanations for any projects that will be terminated
      • Assessment of the current state, the current business operation and performance in the areas that will be impacted by the change
  1. Programme definition document (page 243):
    • Purpose: a document that is used to consolidate or summarize the information that was used to define the programme
    • Typical contents:
      • Objectives for the programme
      • Executive summary
      • Justification and context for the programme
      • Criteria against which it should be measured
      • Vision statement
      • Blueprint summary
      • Programme roles and responsibilities
      • Governance principles that have been applied
      • Summary of the current state
      • Explanation of tranche delivery structures
      • Assurance arrangements
      • Description of outcomes
      • Summary of risks
      • Summary of projects dossier
      • Stakeholder summary
      • Benefits map
      • Timescales, milestones and tranches Information baselines, status and content

=> The purpose of:

  1. Programme preparation plan (page 244): a plan that details how ‘Defining a Programme’ will be undertaken
  2. Project briefs (page 212): identify projects started by the programme; confirm how projects fit into the big picture; ensure projects are aware of and understand interdependencies with other projects; explain how projects’ outputs will be used to build capability and enable transition, lead to outcomes and benefits realization, and define acceptance criteria for those outputs; use information from ‘Defining a Programme’ to provide projects with guidance on quality, reporting, exceptions and escalation

=> Reasons for ‘Identifying a Programme’ (pages 181, 185, and fig 14.1):

  • Quickly assess which of these current change initiatives could be practically merged into a programme. This may well reveal duplication, conflict and gaps in the current initiatives, leading to recommended initial actions. It may be necessary to act quickly to avoid further unnecessary expenditure
  • Programme brief and programme preparation plan are developed
  • Seek confirmation that the programme meets the business requirements
  • The programme board commits to supporting delivery
  • The sponsoring group authorizes and commits to resource and support the SRO to undertake the process of ‘Defining a Programme’ as specified in the programme preparation plan
  • Convert a high level strategic idea into a tangible business concept

=> Reasons for ‘Defining a Programme’ (pages 189, 196, 197, and fig 15.1):

  • Provides the basis for deciding whether to proceed with the programme or not
  • This is where the detailed definition and planning for the programme is undertaken
  • Business case and governance for the programme are developed
  • The programme definition is assembled and the information produced in ‘Defining a Programme’ is summarized and consolidated into one document to enable easy assimilation by stakeholders
  • Make preparations for the first tranche

=> Reasons for ‘Managing the Tranches’ (pages 201, 206, 207, and fig 16.1):

  • Implement the defined programme management governance strategies for the programme
  • Ensure that the capability delivery is aligned to the strategy direction of the organization
  • Enable the release of benefits
  • Activities may recur or happen concurrently
  • Programme information is updated, refined and maintained as the programme progresses
  • The end of a tranche is reached when all the capability for that tranche has been delivered and transitioned into operational use

=> Reasons for ‘Delivering the Capability’ (pages 211, 214, 215, and fig 17.1):

  • Manage the activities for coordinating and managing project delivery according to the programme plan. Refer to table 17.1
  • Provides new outputs that enable the capabilities described in the blueprint

=> Reasons for ‘Realizing the Benefits’ (pages 219, 221, 224, and fig 18.1):

  • Manage the benefits from their initial identification to their successful realization
  • Incorporates the planning and management of the transition from old to new ways of working and the achievement of the outcomes, whilst ensuring that the operational stability and performance of the operations are maintained
  • Three distinct sets of activities: manage pre-transition, manage transition, manage post-transition
  • Asses readiness for change. Refer to table 18.1
  • Integrate outputs into operations and realize benefits

=> Tests for programme closure and reasons for ‘Closing a Programme’ (pages 227, 228, 230, and fig 19.1):

  • Ensure the end goal of formally recognizing that the programme is completed
  • Closure comprises the final assessment of the programme and the decommissioning of its resources and infrastructure
  • Programme closure may be scheduled at any point after the completion of the last project within the projects dossier and the capability has been delivered. refer to table 19.1

Examples of tests (planned closures):

  • Blueprint has been delivered
  • Outcomes have been achieved
  • Business case has been satisfied (thus far)
  • Benefits are self-sustaining
  • Last tranche has been completed as per the programme plan
  • No risks or issues are outstanding that are unacceptable to operations

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


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