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Using MSP Tutorial

This is a tutorial about using MSP® offered by Simplilearn. The tutorial is part of the MSP® Foundation and Practitioner course. This lesson focuses on the types of program, information baselines and the circumstances where MSP® can be used.

Let us begin with the objectives of this lesson in the next section.


By the end of this using MSP tutorial, you will be able to:

  • Explain the types of program

  • Describe information baselines

  • Identify the circumstances for using MSP®

  • Discuss the program impact matrix

In the next section, we will discuss different types of program.

Let us now have a look at this video about Using MSP.

Types of Program

The three types of program in MSP are-

  • Vision-led program

  • Emergent program and

  • Compliance program.

Let us discuss each type in detail. The first type of program is a vision-led program.

Vision-led program

The vision-led program came into existence to deliver a clearly defined vision owned by a “leader” in an organization. This tends to be a top-down approach as the instructions come from higher management. These programs will normally focus on innovation or strategic opportunities.

For example, in the public sector, we often come across different kinds of program. Different political parties will initiate different kinds of program, as their ideologies differ. The second type of program is the Emergent program.

Emergent program

Emergent program emerges from concurrent uncoordinated projects currently existing within the organization. The program emerges as there is a need to ensure that the projects coordinate to deliver the desired changes and benefits.

Once recognized, it evolves in the planned program with its own vision and direction. The third type of program is the Compliance program.

Compliance program

The compliance program is a “must-do” program and is often driven by external events like legislative changes. In this case, the outcome is measured in terms of avoiding negative implications rather than benefits.

Through all these different types of program, we identify that there are certain drivers for change which motivate the organizations to go for a program. These changes can be in the economic environment, driven by the need to be more competitive, to comply with legislation or guidelines or a need to adapt to the changing market.

The other reasons can be some random events like natural catastrophes, new technologies, aim to go global or tapping new sales channels. All the above-mentioned reasons affect the relationships with stakeholders, work culture, organizational structure, business process etc. and thus need to be carefully managed.

Now in the next section, let us review the different types of information baselines that are available in MSP®.

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Information Baselines

In most of the cases, information baselines are created at various stages during the program and maintained throughout the program. There are three main classifications of the information baselines.

They are:

  • Boundary,

  • Governance, and

  • Management.

Let us now understand each of these in detail.


These documents set out the scope and direction of the program. They will identify what needs to be done in a program and also identify the goal. Some examples are the business case, benefit profile, projects dossier, vision statement, etc.

These documents should not be updated too frequently, as it indicates that the program is not sure of its direction.


These are the documents which set the standards and frameworks within which a program will be delivered. These documents also define “how” the program will be managed.

Some of the example documents are organization strategy, risk management strategy, quality and assurance strategy, etc. Strategies should be frequently reviewed and updated to ensure that they satisfy the need for good governance, and are in sync with organizational objectives.


These documents are created and used to manage the delivery of the program; the documents define the activities that need to be undertaken and identify who is responsible for them.

Some examples are stakeholder profiles, program plan, quality and assurance plan, etc. All governance baselines are implemented by a management baseline. For example, risk management strategy is implemented by a risk register and so on.

In the next section, we will continue our discussion on information baselines along with their characteristics.

Information Baselines (contd.)

The uses of information baselines are as follows:

  • Baselines help in the planning and development of program information. The strategies defined in the program indicate “how” the program will be managed. A plan helps us to define what and when these activities will be done.

  • Completion and approval of the set of documents in each baseline represent a step forward in the development of the program. All the documents are created for different purposes and are updated at different stages of the program. As and when we complete and implement these documents post-approval, we move ahead in the program.

  • Governance baselines need to be reviewed frequently to ascertain their effectiveness. So, it is an accepted practice to include the review of these documents as a part of regular health checks.

  • We have classified the documents into three different types. Classification helps the teams to understand their purpose and maintenance regimes. In other words, it helps the teams to understand the purpose of each document based on the classification. For example, management baselines are regularly updated whereas boundary baselines are stable.

  • Most of these documents are interrelated. It means that if one document is changed, other documents need to be updated as well. These documents are consistently reviewed and updated if needed.

In the next section, we will understand when MSP® can be used.

Using MSP

MSP can be used under the following circumstances:


MSP® can be tailored down in cases where the requirements are known and there is very less ambiguity on how to proceed.

For example, for delivering new facilities in the Specification-led program, the complexity of specifications may be high, but the scope will be well defined and adjusted to suit the circumstances.

In such situations, ambiguity is less and the probability of the outcome is high.

For example, setting up an assembly line for an automobile firm is complex, but most of the specifications will be known. Hence, it increases the probability of success. On the contrary, suppose we decide to send a spaceship to study another galaxy.

Although we know what needs to be done, the technical knowledge is not available. This will reduce the chances of a program’s success. However, the business transformation program is different.

Business Transformation

The focus here is on transforming the way the business works, like mergers, etc. These programs are vision-led and there is a likelihood of higher ambiguity about the overall implication of the changes and higher risk.

For example, if an organization plans to change the way it carries out its marketing, there might be some impact on suppliers or customers as well. Greater the impact on customer and market, greater are the levels of ambiguity and risk.

In such cases, MSP® can provide a well-defined structure.

Political and Societal Change

Political and societal change program focus on improvements in society. Because the scope is volatile, the predictability here is reduced as multiple external factors will be at play.

For example, when we discussed the program for making a new city, it can have dependencies related to environmental protection groups, government permissions, other stakeholders from whom land will be acquired, etc.

MSP® is suitable for the complex and ambiguous program. It can accommodate high-risk factors. MSP® is primarily designed to lead and deliver transformational change.

In the next section, we will discuss business alignment.

Business Alignment

Important rules of business alignment are as follows:

  • The program does not exist as stand-alone. The program must coexist with other initiatives and adoption of MSP® must deliver coherence.

  • The focus needs to be given to other influence groups and governance committees that have vested interest in the program and may find their sphere of influence in conflict with the program.

  • Program vision statement must be relevant and aligned to corporate objectives, mission statements, strategies, policies, and similar important documents.

  • Blueprint is a complex document but it should not be missed out of program definition. This is a key document for pulling together the information that currently exists to help gain credibility for program and team.

  • Some organizations use terms like “target operating model” or “to-be state”, which may be used for similar purposes.

  • While defining benefits it is always advisable to involve operations areas early.

  • This will help in bridging the gap as it is the operational team which is asked to deliver the benefits. Creating a lighter benefits profile will help people to understand the concepts before imposing the full rigor.

  • The program may have to select a few existing projects while closing a few other projects. The selection should be treated sensitively as there will be stakeholders, like project executives, who will have strong views on what happens to their initiative.

In the next section, we will discuss the program impact matrix.

Program Impact Matrix

Program impact matrix depicts how different types of changes give a different focus for the program and how they impact the probability of an outcome.

For example, in the technological program, the probability of an outcome is high for a known complex design. But the probability of outcome decreases when technology is new to the organization or unproven in the field. The scale of implementation is another factor.

Bigger the scale, lower is the predictability of outcome. This is in the case of the Specification-led program. Similarly, in business transformation, the program is better placed to deliver the outcomes if we have defined best practices to implement them.

But, predictability decreases with the involvement of external stakeholders and the volatility of the market. The more the factors that influence outcomes; the less is the predictability of the same.

For community or societal program, it is easier to implement a change to legislation, but it becomes difficult when changes are aimed to change societal values and behaviors.

We recommend you to go through the table given on the screen for a better understanding of the concept discussed.

In the next section, we will focus on an example based on the concepts discussed.

When to Use MSP-Problem Statement

Nutri Worldwide is a US-based organization that produces healthy snacks and cereals. Mr. Smith is working as the CEO of Nutri Worldwide Inc. He has received three reports from different branches of the organization seeking his advice.

Report 1:

Report 1 states that the packaging department of Nutri Worldwide Inc. has realized that the complaints with respect to defective packaging have been increasing at a rate of 6% per quarter.

They have found the reason to be an aging packaging unit. The solution identified is to upgrade the packaging unit in line with the new packaging unit of Manchester.

Report 2:

Report 2 states that the Region Head, Carol Stafford, has suggested that they come up with a new product that can be launched as an evening snack, and to promote it in the office cafeteria.

The idea is a new one and can bring a lot of profit for the organization if successful.

Report 3:

As per Report 3, the Yorkshire County has passed a new law that makes it mandatory for organizations to reduce the sugar percentage to 2% in their cookies for children. Nutri Worldwide Inc. has to act fast to ensure that their cookies satisfy the criteria.

The organization may need to change the recipe to maintain the taste. Mr. Smith needs to decide which of the above program need the use of MSP®.

Let us find the solution to the problem in the next section.

When to Use MSP-Solution

Mr. Smith needs to focus on two aspects:

  • Predictability of outcome and

  • The focus of change.

Report 1:

In the case of report 1, the predictability is high as it suggests to replicate the solution already implemented in the Manchester unit.

The specifications seem to be well-defined. This scenario can be handled without MSP® or a leaned-down version of MSP® can be used. A leaned-down version implies that not all documents and procedures need to be followed.

Report 2:

In the case of report 2, the scenario is related to business transformation and a new product needs to be developed for a section which has not been targeted earlier. As such, the probability of the outcome is low.

So the MSP® framework should be strictly enforced.

Report 3:

In the case of report 3, the scenario is such that failure to comply will lead to products being withdrawn from the market. Nutri Worldwide Inc. may need to change the recipe of their products. As such, the MSP® framework should be strictly enforced.


Let us summarize what we have learned in this lesson:

  • There are three types of program, namely, vision-led, emergent and compliance program.

  • The three information baselines in MSP® are the boundary, governance, and management.

  • MSP® can be used for the program which is Specification-led, bring about business transformation and address political and societal change.

  • Program impact matrix depicts how different types of changes give a different focus for the program and how they impact the probability of the outcome.


With this, we come to an end about Using MSP® tutorial. In the next chapter, we will focus on Program Management Principles.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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