Programme environment

VUCA is an acronym for ‘volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

The term is used to refer to the dynamic and fast-changing nature of the contemporary business environment. Programmes usually find themselves in a VUCA environment and organisations need to be aware of this.

The acknowledgement of the VUCA environment helps organisations to be able to respond in order to support their programmes and gain benefits.


Programme environment

As often thought, a programme is not simply ‘a big project’.

A programme is a flexible and temporary structure in an organisation. It coordinates, directs and oversees the implementation of a set of projects to deliver outcomes and benefits that align with strategic objectives.

The environment of the programme is unique and can include major change for the complete organisation.
A well-thought programme is a huge undertaking, takes up a lot of time, costs and resources.
A programme demands a lot from the organisation itself.

It always exists in both an external and internal context and has different types of stakeholders.
A programme is under a constant form of pressure and has to deal with constant external pressures and changes.
However, the unique environment of the programme always stays the same.

To be able to navigate in such a challenging environment, balance is key.
The organisation needs to very clearly define what it can accept and offer, decide on what types of changes it can handle and how. It needs to figure out the pace of change that is feasible for the organisation.

To be able to do so, the organisation needs strong programme management.
Programme management helps organisations protect their significant investments and helps them address common challenges associated with major change initiatives.

Programme management also ensures that outputs translate to outcomes and benefits, therefore delivering value to the organisation. The go-to certification for programme management is MSP by Axelos, which recently launched the MSP 5th edition.


Current state to future state

If organisations are constantly aware and ready to respond to VUCA occurring in their environment, they survive and prosper. That means that organisations must continually improve their ability to respond to changes in their environment, which goes hand in hand with successful programmes.

Programmes coordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of change initiatives in order to deliver value to the organisation. This change from the current state to the future state is never linear.
Good programme management should therefore favour the incremental change approach.

That means that at the start of a change initiative, the path to a future state is not yet completely defined.
The incremental and constant change will help clear out what the future state looks like and will improve the ability of organisations to respond to changes in their environment.

The MSP 5th edition guides users with a set of programme management approaches, leading to the creation of outcomes of benefit in an incremental way.
In order to do this, it uses three ‘lenses

  • Fundamental principles of programme management.
  • Governance themes.
  • Processes across a programme lifecycle.


MSP 5th edition

The principles, themes and processes have also been the core concept of the older version of MSP.
What is new, however, is that the MSP 5th edition has taken into account the need and challenges of any real-world change programme.

There is a special emphasis on the following:

. Flexibility 

The new MSP edition focuses on providing pragmatic and flexible guidance for a wide range of organisations.

. Adaptability

The new MSP edition is streamlined and covers all essential elements, but leaves room voor tailoring according to the needs of the organisation.

. Drivers for change 

Instead of dividing programmes into different ‘types’, the new MSP edition addresses common drivers for change (reasons). Find out more about the multiple tools that you can use to raise change engagement.

. Responsiveness 

New in the latest MSP edition is the incremental approach to the programme lifecycle.

MSP 5th edition looks more at the reasons why a programme is to be undertaken and considers the background and the adaptability instead of basic guidance. The guidance provides more certainty and guides users, by the use of a blueprint, to the future state of the organisation.

The MSP 5th edition is adaptable and can work together with other frameworks like Agile, Lean and the sorts.



Axelos webinar MSP 5th edition (4th)
MSP – Not just for programme managers
Managing Successful Programmes – why a new edition?