MSP® surprise #3

MSP® surprise #3: MSP shortcomings in transition management

The third surprise, embedded in the MSP 2007 Guide and not resolved in the MSP 2011 Guide (despite my earnest attempts to contribute to a change in this area as part of the MSP review process) is that MSP is largely silent or vague about the ‘how’ of transition management. Everyone talks about it, but most people have no idea how to do it.
In MSP 2011 there are about 42 references to transition plan and transition planning. But there is no Transition Plan. This was one of my recommended changes to the guidance. Why not have a transition plan as we reference the ‘document’ so many times, and assign some responsibility to developing, maintaining and actioning the plan. But it is all a bit vague. For example, we can find references to the transition plan or to planning transition throughout the Governance themes and the Transformational flow chapters.
In Appendix A, there are three Information Baseline grouping in MSP 2011 (Boundary, Governance and Programme) and there are 28 documents covered with 6 plans in the Programme section. But there is no Transition Plan in Appendix A. This needs to be addressed in the next version, along with clarification of the difference between the Business Change role and the Business Benefits Role. Let’s go deeper. There are similar bullet-pointed references to the transition activities in the Programme Plan and the Benefit Realization Plan. In essence, MSP has a ‘bob each way’ on where transition belongs, without defining that the BCM owns the transition plan.
The Programme Plan, produced and managed by the Programme Manager, contains a bullet point about transition planning under typical content:
  • Transition planning information and schedules[1]
  • Details of transition schedules”[2]
The Benefits Realization Plan, produced and managed by the Business Change Manager, contains a bullet point about transition planning under typical content:
In Managing the Tranches, we read about the Transition plans, but there is no reference to the Producer, Reviewer or Approver, as there is for the other 28 documents included in the information baseline documentation.
Transition plans prepared earlier in the tranche will be activated when the project outputs have been combined and tested, the capability is ready for transition and operations is ready to use them, changing their ways of working.[3]
OK, but how are they prepared, and by whom and where is an Appendix A reference?
In the Chapter 9, Planning and Control, in the first of two almost identical sections on transition (the other being Chapter 18, Managing the Benefits, there is a reference to the Programme Manager and the BCM working together around transition.
The programme manager and business change managers (BCMs) work closely together to manage all aspects of transition.[4]
While this is a good reference in terms of aligning the responsibilities for project delivery, transition management and benefits management, there is a lack of clarity around the specific responsibilities.
In Chapter 18, there is some more specific reference to the transition plan under the heading of “Initiate transition”.
As the projects approach completion, the relevant business operations need to be prepared for implementing the outputs from the projects. The transition plan is reviewed and updated to reflect the activities of transition. These activities need to be managed into the business environment, ensuring successful take-up of the new capability while maintaining the appropriate level of business as usual.[5]
While the BCM is responsible for “Initiate transition”, the transition plan still doesn’t exist as an MSP document. Yet it is clear from the intention of the chapter and the assignment of the RACI chart that the BCM is responsible. We have clients who use quite detailed transition plan templates they have created themselves or modified to support the baton change from the delivery of project outputs through to achievement of outcomes and benefit realization.
This is Blog 4 in a series of 4
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