The PRINCE2 methodology needs an external stimulus to kick it into life, and this is in the form of a project mandate. The may just be a verbal instruction but is most likely some form of document.
The project mandate is the enabler for PRINCE2 in the starting up a project process (which occurs before the formal project start), to examine the project idea and then to gather sufficient information for the project board to be able to make the decision of whether to start the project, and initiate the required planning, or to decide not to proceed any further.
The project mandate is the first PRINCE2 management product that gathers impetus to ask and answer the following questions:
- What exactly is this project?
- Are there any constraints that must be honoured?
- How much money is available, and what are the financial restrictions?
- Are there any schedule or time limits?
- What is included in this project and what is excluded (the scope)?
Either programme management or corporate management is responsible for producing the project mandate, which contains high-level information about the project idea. The project mandate is the “trigger” that starts PRINCE2 off, and must contain at an absolutes minimum, the project board’ executive’s name, often the project manager’s name, and of course, must explain the subject matter of the potential project.
The mandate is the authority to carry out the starting up a project process. At its simplest the mandate may simply state that work should start, but as a minimum should include the subject matter of the project and the name of the project board executive.
The project mandate may also include an outline business case in skeleton form, for example there may have been some form of a study that lead up to the need for this project.
The project mandate will be refined into becoming the project brief, so it would be helpful if a mandate gave as much information as possible and as a minimum should contain the following information:
Project Mandate Objectives.
The project mandate must contain a clear statement of the project objectives showing what it is expected to achieve this may be in the form of outcomes or benefits; for example a quicker response time to customer inquiries leading to increased revenues from the sale of service contracts.
The typical content of a project mandate should include:
- The scope of the project. Expressed in terms of what it will deliver, and most importantly, what it will not deliver by clearly defining the project boundaries.
- Assumptions. At this early point in time there may be many assumptions and these should be stated.
- Known risks or issues. Including these here will help the work and the creation of the project brief during the starting up a project process.
- Constraints. Most projects have constraints or limits that the project must work within, these will often be in the form of a fixed end date or budget limitation.
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