3 key lessons learned from applying MSP
Blog posted by: Pedro Bertacchini – Project Manager PwC, 19 February 2021.
In the period since taking my Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) exam – more than a year ago – there have been situations I’ve been able to address directly with the guidance.
Three of the most notable scenarios are:
- Answering the question: “How did we get here and why are we doing this?”
- Having clear vision and communication
- Being a visible sponsor
The power of detailed documentation
In your change programmes, how often are you able to answer the questions “how did we get here and why are we doing this?”? When briefed on an ongoing project or with a new client, do you have all the necessary information to perform at a high standard?
I’ve regularly asked myself those questions and usually the answers are: “something is missing”, “This doesn’t make sense”, “Mr. X was in charge, but he left” and “I don’t know why we’re doing this, but we’ve been doing it for years”.
Answering these vital questions is at the heart of creating detailed documentation. This is something often seen as an administrative burden to shift to the bottom of the priorities list or even avoid. However, when you are dealing with a complex and dynamic environment with multiple stakeholders and workstreams to deliver a programme, documentation needs to be as detailed and accurate as possible.
Documenting something ensures all the questions that arise at the start of a programme have an answer. Detailing progress, decisions and lessons is crucial for successful programme delivery; it avoids duplicating effort and repeating past mistakes while providing stakeholders with the right information to make decisions and allows knowledge to be shared easily.
Leading change and communicating a better future
If a programme vision is unclear and communication is inconsistent and fragmented, you can’t guarantee that what you’re doing is the right thing.
Effective communication plays a big role in how people interact and, in programmes, it’s paramount. When working in highly complex environments people need assurance from leadership that every team is “on the same page” and fully aware of what they are trying to deliver.
MSP’s principles offer guidance on leading change, communicating and focusing on benefits within a programme and this helps to avoid the issue of “finger pointing” when something goes wrong. Most of the time, responsibility for failure is a combination of factors and not solely an individual who didn’t perform a job correctly.
Who owns this initiative?
MSP talks a lot about sponsorship and its importance from the early stages of a programme.
An effective leader needs to understand the strategic importance of the work being sponsored by him/her within the programme and convey that to the rest of the team.
This is the best way to gain stakeholders’ buy-in and avoid disputes later. After all, how can a team remain committed to the work if the leader fails even to attend team meetings?
Moreover, an experienced and engaged leader will be able to work with the team more effectively to reduce uncertainty and ambiguity around the programme.
MSP for project managers?
If you’re a project manager – and particularly one certified in PRINCE2® – you’ll know the value of lessons learned.
These lessons I’ve learned since certifying in and practising MSP are just a flavour of how the guidance can add to the knowledge and toolkit of a project manager and potentially open the door to programme management. As a PRINCE2 project manager, I can vouch for that.
For example, MSP is a great addition to any project manager in charge of multiple workstreams and/or initiatives at work and who wants a better understanding of how to manage them more effectively.
The guidance focuses on the importance of having a robust governance structure, clear communication and strong leadership as the catalysts for successful programme delivery.
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