Category Archives: Programme and Project framework

The great programme management debate – MSP v PMI


In the world, there are two main programme management frameworks, the MSP® framework which we have been so heavily involved in, and the PMI Programme Management framework from the US based community.

We were commissioned to write a paper comparing the two approaches and we thought this article would be an interesting reference point if you are looking to develop programme management understanding.

The overwhelming conclusion of this article is that organisations delivering programmes need to exploit the strengths of both approaches and once understood, they are surprisingly compatible and build on the strengths and weaknesses of each other rather than proposing opposing approaches.

The article has been written by Rod Sowden, lead author for MSP® 2007 and 2011.

MSP® is a [registered] trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved

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Filed under Aspire Academy, Aspire Accelerate, MSP®, Programme and Project framework, Programme Management

Designing a programme management framework is hard

Safe LandingNo organisation can successfully deliver programmes and projects without an effective framework and common lifecycle around which controls can be based.

Our maturity and capability assessment of over 120 organisations enabled us to review a wide range of processes, guidance and tools that are used across a range of sectors.

We found:

  • Incomplete frameworks with inadequate lifecycles
  • Frameworks that replicate manuals and basic theory but add no value
  • Roles and responsibilities that are generic, confusing or conflicting
  • Themes, such as risk, that are not connected to the lifecycle or sit in isolation
  • Generic role definitions with no application of the responsibilities
  • Templates that bear no resemblance to the lifecycle or processes
  • Little connection between programme and project management systems
  • Portfolio Management frameworks that fail to address balancing priorities

To overcome this, we developed our own Align Framework® and offer it as a fully supported package. If you would like to find out more about the Align Framework®, click here

Align Framework® is a registered trademark of Aspire Europe Limited.

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Filed under Aspire Accelerate, Programme and Project framework

Project Academies – how to set up and gain value

Project Academies – how to set up and gain value from Donnie MacNicol

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Filed under Align Framework, Articles, Aspire Academy, Business Project Management, Change Management, Programme and Project framework, Programme Management, Project Management, Training

What is Integrated Assurance?

Integrated Assurance is a term that has become common parlance over the last 5 or 6 years. The origins of the concept were the UK government monitoring of the London Olympics. It was such a complex programme with so many governance bodies wanting to satisfy themselves that everything was going well that people with in the programme were almost professional interviewees.

However, there is little definition around what integrated assurance actually is, for those of you that have an interest in this, we have found this useful article by KPMG that provides a useful overview of the “Three lines of defence” concept.


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Filed under Articles, Assurance, Governance, Programme and Project framework

Democracy is killing our infrastructure

We were fortunate enough to attend the APM Programme Management Special Interest Group conference last week, where there was a tremendous presentation from one of the grandees of major infrastructure programmes and projects in the UK. He outlined how politics was and has been at the root cause of the degeneration of the UK infrastructure over many generations.

I had always thought of the Victorian era as our golden age, but I was disappointed to find out that most of the investment was by entrepreneurs rather than our government, and most of them ended up broke as a result of the altruism,  so the only people making money out of infrastructure appears to be the builders.

The golden age of UK infrastructure investment was the 50’s and 60’s – an era pre the dawn of Thatcherism, that was when big decisions and actions were taken on  motorways, power stations, schools  and infrastructure. Unfortunately it is the period we remember for the demise of railways and not much else, so history has been very unkind to that generation.

It was also an era of nationalised industries and high levels of government controlled investment. Apparently the countries that have the highest levels of infrastructure investment tend to be a little light on the democracy side of things, hence the conclusion that democracy is killing our infrastructure.

By chance I have come across this excellent youtube video which looks at mega project failure and provides an interesting insight by Michael Hobbs into a major tunnel project in Seattle

I hope you enjoy it

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Filed under Aspire Academy, Business Project Management, Learning, Planning, Programme and Project framework, Project Management, Vodcast/Video

Solving the Riddle of Integrating Assurance

Integrated Assurance is a very popular topic at the moment; however, most organisations have a fragmented approach to how it is achieved. To have an integrated approach requires multiple layers in the organisation to function coherently. This article explains how to achieve this integration.

The three tier approach clarifies how the models (and terms) fit together:

  1. Organisational capability – assessed using P3M3 and identifies your systemic strengths and weaknesses which can be addressed
  2. Programme and project viability – assessed by independent or peer assurance to provide an objective assessment of the likelihood of success
  3. Gate reviews – line management decisions on whether to continue to invest in the idea

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Filed under Articles, Maturity Assessments, Programme & Portfolio Office, Programme and Project framework, Programme Management, Project Management

An Overview of P3M3® Version 3

In June this year, AXELOS finally released the much awaiting revamped version of P3M3®. Two and a half years in development, and drawing on the lessons from the highly successful 2008 version, the makeover of the product had to reflect the increasing maturity and changing dynamics in the industry.

Since P3M3® version 2 was released in 2008 over 500 assessments have been undertaken with hundreds more using the self-assessment tools. In Australia and New Zealand the governments mandated their departments to have capability assessments using P3M3®, in the UK it was a softer approach, but most central government departments, and many local governments, have benefited from an assessment. The evidence of the benefits was highlighted by Transport for London, who claimed savings of £1bn from improving their maturity.

Our Managing Director Rod Sowden (P3M3® lead author 2008 and joint lead author 2015) has recently written an useful overview article on P3M3® Version 3. If you want to find out more about the new version click here to read the article.

P3M3® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited.

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Filed under Articles, Business Project Management, Knowledge Nugget, Learning, News, P3M3®, Programme and Project framework