In contrast to PMI’s PMBoK that is industry-independent, MSF was introduced in 1994 and is now a practical, flexible and proven approach to delivering IT solutions. It has been successfully applied to a range of project types with varying complexities and within an assortment of environments. Refined and evolved over a dozen years, MSF provides guidance in not only how to define, design, build, stabilize and deploy a solution, but also how to organize, ready and govern the team to handle the dynamic nature of solutions delivery (more information about MSF may be found on Microsoft’s website www.microsoft.com ).
MSF is structured as an adaptable and scalable framework upon which specialized and prescriptive methodologies, such as ours, can be built. It includes a set of natural checks and balances that work to maximize quality and agility without adding undue governance. That way, MSF can be a basis for both an agile as well as a formal approach to solutions delivery. We have adopted the formal approach of MSF since it’s the one that most complies with CMMI and suits us best in our geographically dispersed teams, remote offices and large projects. It also aligns with our strategy of having a repeatable, predictable and proactive process applied to our projects.
MSF v4 defines 6 key elements that, collectively, create a solid yet flexible approach to the successful execution of technology projects
• Foundational principles: Core principles upon which the framework is based (Work Toward a Shared Vision, Establish Clear Accountability and Shared Responsibility, Stay Agile – Expect and Adapt to Change, Invest in Quality, Learn from all Experiences, Partner with Customers, some of the most important principles). They express values and standards that are common to all framework elements. They should be adopted by the team and applied in how team members operate among themselves as well as how they work within their organization and with stakeholders.
• Mindsets: Beliefs that team members should internalize to guide their personal behavior (Focus on Business Value, Keep a Solution Perspective, Learn Continuously, Deliver on your Commitments, some of the most important mindsets).
• Models: Schematic descriptions or "mental maps" of how to structure project teams and processes (Team Model and Governance Model, two of the major defining elements/components of the framework).
• Disciplines: Areas of practice using a specific set of methods, terms, and approaches (Project Management, Risk Management, and Readiness Management, the other major defining elements/components of the framework).
• Proven practices: Techniques, methods, or processes that have been demonstrated to work under a variety of real-world conditions.
• Recommendations: Optional but suggested practices and guidelines in the application of the models and disciplines.