Before I evangelize the merits of programme management I want to clarify what a programme is and what a project is. This might seem a liitle trivial but I've seen these two words used so interchangably across many organisations in many countries with people calling a project a programme and vice versa.

A programme is a temporary and flexible organisation which is formed to coordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of a set of related projects and activities in order to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the organisation's strategic objectives.

A project is also a temporary organisation which will deliver one or more outputs in accordance with a specific business case.

Programmes create outcomes and projects create outputs, and programme management does not replace the need for competent project management. A programme acts as an umbrella under which projects can be coordinated and integrated in order to deliver an outcome which is the sum of the projects' parts.

With that out of the way, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has a framework known as 'Managing Successful Programmes' (MSP). This framework provides proven programme management best practice for successfully delivering transformational change.

Organisations that have embraced MSP have enjoyed the benefits of transforming themselves successfully as opposed to being amongst the many that suffer painful or disasterous transformation.

These days, more and more C-level executives are recognising programme management as a powerful tool, which when used well, can facilitate 'successful' transformation programmes as opposed to ugly monsters that get out of control and wreak havoc.

At the highest level, programme management aligns corporate strategy, business-as-usual and the delivery mechanism for change. These are three critical elements which must align if transformation is to be successful.

MSP principles represent success factors that underpin the likelihood of successful transformational change programmes. These seven principles have been derived from lessons learned in both the public and private sectors.

Positioned within the seven principles are nine governance themes which help put in place the right leadership, delivery team, organisation structures, controls and control information to optimise the likelihood of delievering the planned outcomes and benefits.

Then finally comes the transformational flow which provides a path through the programme lifecycle from conception to closure.

If you're still asking 'why should I use programme management?' consider the fact that most organisations are likely to fail to deliver change successfully if there is:

- insufficient board-level support
- weak leadership
- lack of stakeholder engagement
- a vague or no real picture of the future capability
- a poorly defined/communicated vision
- unrealistic expectations of the organisational capacity and capability
- insufficient focus on benefits
- little effort to change the organisation's culture

MSP provides a structured framework that helps organsiations avoid these pitfalls and achieve their goals.