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Cheat Sheet

MSP For Dummies

MSP helps you manage a successful programme, or even helps you manage a programme successfully. You’ll probably use this Cheat Sheet at the beginning of a programme just after the big bosses said ‘Yes go ahead and run that programme’. (The clever term for the process is defining a programme.) These tips will also work if you encounter a really major change of direction in your programme.

Model the Outcomes for Your Successful Programme

You should create an outcome model that you can use to validate the subsequent benefits model. But in simple language that outcome model becomes the first picture of the future you share with people as they’re trying to get an idea of what the programme will deliver.

The key is to keep it simple, and at the end of the process ask yourself: Do senior, key stakeholders buy into the model?

  • Create your outcome model with key stakeholders. They will probably be quite senior, so you might have to work with them one-to-one or in small groups.

  • Identify about four segments that clearly describe the future business. There’s no right answer, go with what inspires the stakeholders.

  • Brainstorm outcomes and place them in the appropriate segment. Outcomes should be quite large “things” for example a click and collect facility in our shops. If outcomes sit across several segments, then you probably haven’t got the segmentation clear enough. You only need half a dozen outcomes in each segment.

Engage with Your Stakeholders

Think about who your stakeholders are, reach out to them and get into a meaningful dialogue with them. The key here is to keep it real.

The question to ask yourself at the end is: do you know who the stakeholders are and what makes them tick?

  • Brainstorm who the stakeholders are.

  • Think about what they’re interested in

  • Go and talk to them and see if you got it right.

  • Invite them to get involved

Managing Successful Programmes: Model the Benefits

Create your top level benefits model for your successful programme. It is an important time for establishing your benefits focus, so put enough effort into this workshop. Key: Put enough effort in until you get a model of people are comfortable with.

Situation at the end: Does the business buy into the model and can you identify owners for each benefit?

  • Get together a workshop with lots of stakeholders.

  • Have a facilitator, who knows what they’re doing, teach them a little bit about benefits.

  • Brainstorm the benefits.

  • Refined the model until it works.

  • Look out for potential benefit owners.

Set Up an Information Hub to Manage Programmes Successfully

The first and most important bit of your programme office as an information hub. That means you’ve got the authoritative version of the documents that matter. It could be as simple as a data stick that you carry around with you or a fully-fledged information management system.

Key: information is power!

Situation at the end: people come to you to find out what’s going on.

  • Think about the information that you gathering.

  • Don’t worry about the passing detail on all those emails.

  • Identify the key documents and keep them safe.

Be Prepared for Black Swan When Managing Programmes

A ‘black swan’ is something big and unexpected. Just as soon as you begin to get that comfortable feeling that the programme is beginning to settle down, in will flap a giant black swan. You need to be prepared to deal with it.

Key: have a contingency plan.

Situation at the end: You will be saying 'Well that was a bit busy few days, but we have come out the other end in pretty good shape.'

  • You are very busy, but sit down and think about the information you’ve gathered in the team you’re working with.

  • Imagine the most extreme black swan you can think of – the boss gets sacked, you merge with your biggest competitor, the budget or timescale is cut in half or doubled.

  • Run a simulation with some of your close colleagues are now you to deal with that black swan. Make it a bit of fun. Did at the end of the week, or one evening and provide something nice to eat and some silly prizes. A few beers won’t go amiss if that’s okay in your culture.

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