Managing Successful Programs (MSP) is a globally recognized framework for managing a practice program, designed to align projects and programmes to the strategy of organizations and assist in achieving enterprise agility. The MSP certification guides program managers and develops their knowledge and skills. The fifth edition of the MSP improves flexibility and adaptability by applying an incremental approach to the program lifecycle. 

AXELOS offers two levels of MSP Exam: MSP Foundation and MSP Practitioner. The MSP Foundation Exam aims to assess whether the candidate can demonstrate adequate recall and understanding of the MSP program management framework to successfully manage different projects and programmes. The MSP Foundation qualification is a prerequisite for the MSP Practitioner Exam. Tests are held through PeopleCert, the examination institute partner. 

What Distinguishes MSP from other Methodologies? 

 MSP is a framework rather than a methodology. It is unique as it is; a program focused on management guide. This enables organizations to lead investments in a way that delivers positive results and tangible benefits. The links with project management are very important, as it is a very important aspect in introducing the required new capabilities. 

Who Should Use it and Why? 

There are different audiences for MSP and each of them will come into the framework with different requirements and will find elements that will help them fulfill their roles more effectively. 

1-Project Managers 

The MSP will give project managers guidance on designing and planning the program, monitoring and controlling the introduction of new capabilities, managing risk and problem solving, engaging stakeholders, establishing appropriate working relationships with members of the program team, and giving them the structure that needs to succeed in this role. 

2-Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) 

SRO needs to clearly understand the structure and direction that MSP brings. Without it, they would likely struggle with the complexity and scope of their responsibilities. 

3-Business Change Manager (BCM) 

The role of BCM is usually a member leading the operations of the investment, and they are given overall responsibility for the daily successful adoption of new capabilities within the investing organization until they ultimately see the benefits being realized. 

Other roles would benefit from understanding and using MSP include: 

  • Program Office Manager
  • Program Assurance Teams
  • Organizational Change Managers


There is much to be gained in learning and understanding the perspectives that MSP brings. They would have a grasp of the environment, have a more strategic viewpoint on the program that is used in the project, and increase their effectiveness. 

Learning Objectives 

Participants will be able to: 

  • Understand the basic concepts related to the program and MSP.
  • Understand how MSP principles support their framework.
  • Understand MSP topics and how they are applied.
  • Understand MSP processes and how they are implemented.

What are the Changes Accompanying the Update? 

The 5th edition has seen many changes with updates related to content and terminology all the time. Nevertheless, the overall structure of MSP is identifiable, while retaining a framework of principles, themes, and processes. There are some elements of the previous edition explicitly covered in the fifth edition as well: 

Vision: The purpose and characteristics of the vision statement. 

Benefits: This remains as the principle of MSP and is a thread that runs through the entire router in many ways. 

Risks:  they are dealt with similarly as they are approached in several places rather than in one place. 

Organizational Structure and Roles:  The established roles of the Principal Responsible Owner, Program Director, Program Board, and Program Office are maintained and strengthened. Other roles are also appropriately addressed. 

Business Case: Its links with benefits are now being addressed very clearly. 

Blueprint: Now renamed as Target Operating Model, with more explanation of its use. 

Stakeholder Engagement and updates to communication planning. 

The Program Life Cycle: Formerly called Transformational Flow, is updated, emphasizing the additional nature of the program.  

Some of the Key Changes Include: 

  •   The principles have been re-written. Inspiration was taken from the set of principles in previous editions, and much of the focus on this can be seen in the fifth edition.
  • There are now seven themes instead of nine in the previous edition They have been renamed as Themes instead of Governance Topics as the whole set provides governance.
  •   Themes are introduced through a discussion of the program, corporate governance, and the relationship between them.
  • All themes are described in one word, as illustrated with PRINCE2, that helps clarify their purpose and contribution.
  • Each chapter on the themes also expresses key relationships with planning principles and background information needed to support them. 
  • There are now seven processes in the program lifecycle that have a controlled start that identifies the program process and an end that closes the program process.
  •   The number of appendices has been reduced to only one, as the MSP needs to be a useful guide.

Why is MSP Improved? 

The digital revolution, the speed of change, the emergence of agile ways of working, and the increase in volatility and uncertainty in all aspects of life meant that program management must evolve to meet these demands. 

This release demonstrates once again that program management is not project management, while at the same time, it provides guidance that many project managers will find it valuable. 

This improvement can contribute to the way organizations invest in response to their changing circumstances and enable them to achieve tangible results and benefits from their investment in programs. 

What advice would you give to organizations that want to accredit MSP? 

1- Be Clear about the Reason for Using MSP 

MSP plays a significant role in innovation and growth, organizational reorganization, and effective delivery. 

2- Use the MSP Framework 

Ensure there is a commitment to using it to set up change governance. Look at the questions in each approach section of the seven topics that will clarify what you need to do, and what you can customize to meet these specific needs. 

3- Trust That Following an MSP Depends on Leadership in Thinking and Practice 

The team that drafted this new release are all practitioners and understand the importance of MSP in providing a bridge between the project, the strategic and organizational vision.