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MSP® Foundation

Les Clarke

Les Clarke is the Managing Director of Stratsure. This training company has specialised in change delivery practices for nearly 20 years.  Les is the lead trainer for Managing Successful Programmes.

Les has been in project and programme management for an awfully long time. He was certainly looking after a collection of projects (which would not be called multi-project programme management) in the 1970s.  So that means he’s getting to the end of his fourth decade in this game.


  1. How does a programme differ from a project – in simple terms?
      A project is a temporary organization created for delivering one or more business outputs according to a specified business case.
    A programme is a temporary, flexible organization structure created to co-ordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of a set of related projects and transformational activities.
    A programme is an implementation of a set of related projects and transformational activities to co-ordinate in business as usual.
  2. Do you have an example of a programme?
      Building a new school may be a straightforward project for the construction company carrying out the work, with the output being the completed building.  However, for the education authority it may be part of a programme, where the building is merely one of the several different independent outputs, which together will ensure the longer-term benefits of providing improved education and recreation in a particular community.
  3. How does programme management add value to the organisation?
      Programme Management aligns three critical organisational elements:
    * Corporate Strategy
    * Delivery mechanisms for change
    * Business-as-usual
    It manages the natural tension that exists between these elements to deliver transformational change that meets the needs of the organisation and its stakeholders.  It also manages the transition of the solutions developed and delivered by projects into the organisation’s operations, whilst maintaining performance and effectiveness.
  4. What is the “project-to-benefits” delivery path?
      The delivery sequence, shown in the adjacent figure is:
    A. You deliver outputs from projects. Output is a term relevant in the world of the project. While it's still relevant in programmes, it isn't the be-all and end-all. After you've got the outputs from the projects, you're about halfway through the heavy lifting.
    B. You produce capabilities, which are one or more outputs from the point of view of your business as usual.
    C. You exploit capabilities so that they become outcomes. (Outcomes are significantly different from outputs).
    D. You measure the achievement of outcomes as something quite specific: benefits.


Course Objective

The purpose of the foundation qualification is to confirm that a candidate has sufficient knowledge and understanding of the MSP guidance to interact effectively with those involved in the management of a programme or act as an informed member of a Programme office team, business change team or project delivery team working within an environment supporting MSP.

Course Details

This course takes place over three days, including the optional Foundation examination.  Delegates should be aware that considerable evening preparation and consolidation will be required to pass the exam. Joining instructions are sent out approximately 2 weeks before the course.  During the three days, there will be a combination of formal presentations, group and individual exercise enabling delegates to gain an understanding of the following topics.

  • Overview
  • Principles
  • Transformational Flow
  • Identifying a Programme
  • Vision
  • Blueprint Design & Delivery
  • Defining a Programme
  • Benefits Management
  • The Business Case
  • Organisation
  • Planning & Control
  • Leadership & Stakeholder Engagement
  • Risk & Issue Management
  • Quality & Assurance Man-agement
  • Delivering the Tranches

Delegate Profile

Programme office team members, business change team members, project delivery team members, anyone who needs to understand the terminology and concepts underpinning MSP and those wishing to pursue higher level qualifications.

Trainer Profile

All AFA trainers are practicing project managers with considerable experience in a wide range of industry sectors. The use of hybrid trainer-practitioners ensures the trainers have up-to-date, real world knowledge of implementing the methods.

The Package

Included in the cost of the course are:

  • Pre-course preparation pack
  • Official Publication ‘Managing Successful Programmes’
  • AFA Atrium
  • ProjectCoach
  • Printed Material
  • Examination Fee

Pre-course work

Typically pre-course preparation will require 2-3 hours of study

The Exam

The foundation exam consists of a one hour multiple-choice paper, to be completed at the end of the course.

StratSure and AFA collaboration story

Stratsure has partnered with international training company AFA to meet the growing need in South Africa to service the Best Practice industry.  AFA was established seventeen years ago as a management consultancy organisation.   AFA quickly established a reputation for delivering training courses that combine excellent exam pass rates with realistic and practical guidance ensuring maximum skills transfer.  AFA has always played a full part in the Best Practice community. AFA trainers and consultants, including the AFA Managing Director, Alan Ferguson, have served on the editing and review teams for all recent updates of the guidance manuals.  This is why we believe AFA is a perfect match for StratSure, in achieving our vision for the future.

MSP 1000

The big ideas in 1000 words

In two sides of A4, AFA has laid out the key principles you need to know about MSP

AFA Atrium

Wider reading to support your knowledge

An online resource providing a range of additional materials available to delegates before, during and after their exams


Get a taster of our ProjectCoach Service

Take the opportunity to have your project work reviewed by one of our expert consultants.

Foundation Essentials

We focus on the exam so you can focus on the method.

A compact & accessible crib sheet to ensure you have easy access to the knowledge you need to pass the Foundation Exam


Where there is a major change there will be complexity and risk, many interdependencies to manage and conflicting priorities to resolve.  Experience shows that organisations are likely to fail to deliver change successfully where:

  • There is insufficient board-level support
  • Leadership is weak
  • There are unrealistic expectations of the organisational capacity and ability to change
  • There is insufficient focus on benefits
  • There is no real picture (blueprint) of the future capability
  • There is a poorly defined or poorly communicated vision
  • The organisation fails to change its culture
  • There is insufficient engagement of stakeholders

Adopting a programme management approach such as MSP® provides a structured framework that can help organisations avoid these pitfalls and achieve their goals.