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Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) - Review

Views of project professionals for project professionals.

MSP (Managing Successful Programmes), is an established best practice programme management framework, designed to align programmes and projects to organizational strategy and enable enterprise agility. MSP focuses on the delivery of outcomes of benefit, while mitigating risk and actively engaging stakeholders.

MSP consists of a set of principles, themes, and processes that provide a clear roadmap for the programme lifecycle, including larger, more strategic, complex, or multiple projects (, 2022).


Overall Rating

A very engaging and interesting framework for any P3M professional regardless of whether you are Project, Portfolio or Programme orientated.

Well delivered (depending on your provider), well structured, and logical approach to programme management.

You do not need to be an experienced programme manager to successfully complete the course however, you will need to have a good level of project, programme or portfolio experience behind you to keep up with the content.

It is not for the beginner!


Course Content

I was provided with a copy of the latest edition of the MSP publication ahead of the course, which was a real advantage. It is broken down into three sections:

  • Principles

  • Themes

  • Processes

They must be followed in the order presented as they lead into each other, basically drilling down to the next level of detail for each element.

The difficulty with the structure is that some of the elements of the programme repeat in more then one section e.g. risk appears in multiple themes and multiple processes. You could say this is obvious as this is the reality of programme delivery, however it makes following the logic of the framework very difficult for anyone new to it.

The courses are offered as Fundamentals (3 days) and Practitioner (2 days) which can be taken separately or as a 5 day course. Although there is obvious benefit of continuing through both stages directly whilst the fundamentals is fresh in your mind as you start the practitioner session, but it is dependant on your own individual learning style as to whether this is a preferred route.



There is a final exam at the end of each stage, both of which are heavily reliant on your knowledge of the handbook and framework therefore, being able to segregate elements of each theme and process is essential but tricky.

Foundation exam

1 hour

Closed book

60 multiple choice questions

60% pass mark (34 correct answers)

Practitioner exam

2 1/2 hour

Open book (MSP publication only, can be annotated)

70 multiple choice questions

60% pass mark (42 correct answers)

I completed the exams online by proctor. Although the exams are multiple choice I found the difficulty with them is that many of the options given for answers could be correct. Therefore unless you have the manual imprinted in your memory (which is unlikely) you will need to rely on your experience to establish the most appropriate, thus correct, answer.

However although the Axelos guidance states a prerequisite that the you must pass the Foundation before sitting the Practitioner exam it does not restrict you from continuing your study of the programme, in fact you can complete the programme for both without taking an exam as long as you have the exams booked. Positive is that you don't need to prove you have passed the Foundation before progressing to Practitioner.

This is important as booking suitable slots for the exams online was frustrating and unless you are willing to take an exam at wholly unsociable hours it was impossible to complete them in a timely manner to support continuation of studies.


Course Delivery

I completed the course through, whom I would recommend as a provider. The course was a hybrid delivery, a mix of in-class and remote attendees (I was remote). The course leader was extremely knowledgeable in the MSP framework and therefore delivered the course extremely well, in a logical manner, which I found easy to follow despite not being in the classroom. Each day was kept on schedule whilst at the same time ensuring the content was understood.

Tasks were given as 'homework' each evening but were more of ensuring the day had been understood then additional learning therefore, not too taxing, but be ready for your evenings to be disrupted!



As with any theoretical model or framework rarely does it align directly with 'real life' situations therefore will always need to be taken in such a context. In other words it is a great framework to guide the PM through programme delivery but will need to be tailored to individual programme needs.

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