PRINCE2 Process – WHEN things happen!
It would be helpful if you thought of a PRINCE2 process as “Toolkits” or “Toolboxes” Each Process is used when they are needed – some once per project, some re-used several times, and one, Directing a Project, is used continuously after the completion of the starting up a project process…
First – An Overview of the Seven PRINCE2 Processes
The PRINCE2 process
There are many drivers in an organization that may cause the need for change, and hence the instigation of PRINCE2. These drivers may include a new idea, a customer request, new business objectives, or the need to respond to competitive pressures, changes in legislation, the final report of a feasibility study, or even a recommendation or audit output.
Therefore, the trigger for PRINCE2 could be just about anything and in any form. This trigger is called the Project Mandate, and may take the form of a verbal instruction, the minutes from a meeting, or a direct request from senior management. The information in the project mandate will almost certainly need to be further refined and this uses the PRINCE2 process Starting Up a Project to carry this out along with other activities.
The project mandate will be further refined into the Project Brief and to the creation of a Stage Plan for the initiation stage. The project board will now review these two key documents and make a decision on whether or not to formally start the project. Their thinking will be “do we have a viable and worthwhile project?”
If a decision by the project board has been made to proceed further, then this is the trigger to start the initiation stage, where the project brief will be further refined and expanded to become the Project Initiation Documentation (PID).
The project will now be planned in detail after various strategies have been determined. Appropriate project board and project management level controls are defined, including how funding for the project is to be obtained. The outline business case contained within the project brief is now further refined to become the detailed business case as part of the PID.
The initiation stage is completed once all of the information is assembled within the Project Initiation Documentation which will now need to be reviewed by the project board to decide whether or not to authorize the project. Also during the initiation stage, the managing a stage boundary process is used to prepare for the End Stage Assessment, including the creation of the second stage plan. The activity authorizing a stage or exception plan within the PRINCE2 process Directing a Project process is used to approve or otherwise the second stage plan.
Once the PID is signed off, then all remaining stages (there may only be one), need to be authorized, and the project board will have delegated day-to-day control to the project manager for each remaining stage, one at a time. The project manager will assign work via Work Packages and will want to ensure that progress is in line with the approved stage plan, and that the stage forecast remains within the projects performance targets and agreed tolerances.
To assist in progress control, the project manager will use a set of project records (the Daily Log, Lessons Log, Issue, Risk, and Quality Registers, and Configuration Item Records). The project manager will keep the project board informed of progress via regular Highlight Reports.
The PRINCE2 process Managing Product Delivery process is used by the Team Managers and specialists team members to execute their assigned Work Packages, keeping the project manager informed of progress with regular Checkpoint Reports.
At the end of each management stage the project manager will use the PRINCE2 process Managing a Stage Boundary process to create the next Stage Plan, update the Project Plan and Business Case, and assess the aggregated set of risks including any current issues. This information will be presented to the project board in the form of an End Stage Report, where they will need to decide what to do next.
The final delivery stage is different in that although specialist products will have been created, as the final products are approved, the project manager will use the PRINCE2 process Closing a Project process to prepare for controlled shutdown. The evidence from this process is used by the project board to authorize project closure.
- PRINCE2 kicks off with the project “trigger” from Corporate or programme management – the Project Mandate.
- The Starting Up a Project (SU), and Initiating a Project (IP) PRINCE2 process are both “in series” – the Management Products of each being taken to the Project Board for approval (Authorizing initiation and Authorizing a project).
- The PRINCE2 process Managing Product Delivery, is used, along with the PID, to create the 2nd Stage Plan and End Stage Report containing the updated versions of the Project Plan, Business Case, and Risk Register.
- These Management Products are presented to the Project Board (Authorizing a project), to agree that the whole project, in principle, should be agreed, and that it is sensible to invest in the 2nd Stage Plan (in the activity Authorizing a Stage or Exception Plan).
- From there on, the “Engine Room” of Prince2 takes over – ONE anticlockwise revolution per Stage…SB is used the prepare for the End Stage Assessment (ESA), DP approves the Stage Plan, Sets Tolerance, and sets the frequency of each Highlight Report….
- The PRINCE2 process Controlling a Stage (CS) authorizes Work Packages (WP), the Specialist Team Agrees them (all happens in Managing Product Delivery – MP), creates the Products, caries out the Quality Checks/Quality Reviews, issues Checkpoint Reports on WP progress – and eventually completes the Work Package then advising the Project Manager, who needs to agree the WP…
- The Project Manager “Manages By Exception”, issuing regular Highlight Reports, and this continues until the last WP in the Stage is completed.
- This “triggers” the Project Manager to use PRINCE2 process Managing Stage Boundaries (SB), create the Next Stage Plan, update the relevant documents, and present the information to the Project Board at an End Stage Assessment (ESA). Then the whole cycle repeats…
- In PRINCE2, all plans are documents, and the Plans Theme and the product-based planning technique is used whenever a Project Plan, Stage Plan, optional Team Plan, and Exception Plan (if needed), are required.
- Whenever the Stage/Project is forecast to exceed Tolerance, the Project Manager enters it in the Issue Register, and raises an Exception Report to bring the matter to the attention of the Project Board (along with options to recover/minimize the situation), and the project Board makes a decision to ask for a plan on a particular option or order a premature close.
- If the Project Board want an Exception Plan, the Project Manager will use SB to create it, and then update the remaining documents just like an End Stage Assessment.
- BUT, the meeting to agree/or not, an Exception Plan is called an Exception Assessment (EXA). Once approved, the Exception Plan replaces the original Stage Plan that would have not completed within Tolerances, and the Project Manager authorizes new/modified Work Packages against the new “Stage Plan”
PRINCE2 process – Starting up a Project (SU)
This is the first PRINCE2 process. It is a pre-project process, designed to ensure that the pre-requisites for initiating the project are in place.
The process expects the existence of a Project Mandate which defines in high level terms the reason for the project and what outcome is sought. Starting up a Project should be very short.
The work of the process is built around the production of three elements:
- Ensuring that the information required for the project team is available
- Designing and appointing the Project Management Team
- Creating the Initiation Stage Plan.
PRINCE2 process – Initiating a Project (IP)
The objectives of the PRINCE2 process Initiating a Project are to:
- Agree whether or not there is sufficient justification to proceed with the project
- Establish a stable management basis on which to proceed
- Document and confirm that an acceptable Business Case exists for the project
- Ensure a firm and accepted Foundation to the project prior to commencement of the work
- Agree to the commitment of resources for the first stage of the project
- Enable and encourage the Project Board to take ownership of the project
- Provide the baseline for the decision-making processes required during the project’s life
- Ensure that the investment of time and effort required by the project is made wisely, taking account of the risks to the project
PRINCE2 process – Directing a Project (DP)
Directing a Project runs from the start-up of the project until its closure. This process is aimed at the Project Board. The Project Board manages and monitors via reports and controls through a number of decision points.
The key PRINCE2 process for the Project Board break into four main areas:
- Initiation (starting the project off on the right foot)
- Stage boundaries (commitment of more resources after checking results so far)
- Ad hoc direction (monitoring progress, providing advice and guidance, reacting to exception situations)
- Project closure (confirming the project outcome and controlled close).
- This process does not cover the day-to-day activities of the Project Manager.
This process describes the monitoring and control activities of the Project Manager involved in ensuring that a stage stays on course and reacts to unexpected events. The process forms the core of the Project Manager’s effort on the project, being the process which handles day-to-day management of the project.
Throughout a stage there will be a cycle consisting of:
- Authorizing work to be done
- Gathering progress information about that work
- Watching for changes
- Reviewing the situation
- Taking any necessary corrective action.
This process covers these activities, together with the on-going work of risk management and change control.
PRINCE2 process – Managing Product Delivery (MP)
The objective of this process is to ensure that planned products are created and delivered by:
- Making certain that work on products allocated to the team is effectively authorised and agreed accepting and checking Work Packages
- Ensuring that work conforms to the requirements of interfaces identified in the Work Package
- Ensuring that the work is done
- Assessing work progress and forecasts regularly
- Ensuring that completed products meet quality criteria
- Obtaining approval for the completed products.
PRINCE2 process – Managing a Stage Boundary (SB)
This process provides the Project Board with key decision points on whether to continue with the project or not.
The objectives of the process are to:
- Assure the Project Board that all deliverables planned in the current Stage Plan have been completed as defined
- Provide the information needed for the Project Board to assess the continuing viability of the project
- Provide the Project Board with information needed to approve the current stage’s completion and authorise the start of the next stage, together with its delegated tolerance level
- Record any measurements or lessons which can help later stages of this project and/or other projects.
PRINCE2 process – Closing a Project (CP)
The purpose of this process is to execute a controlled close to the project.
The process covers the Project Manager’s work to wrap up the project either at its end or at premature close.
Most of the work is to prepare input to the Project Board to obtain its confirmation that the project may close.
The objectives of Closing a Project are therefore to:
- Check the extent to which the objectives or aims set out in the Project Initiation Document (PID) have been met
- Confirm the extent of the fulfillment of the Project Initiation Document (PID) and the Customer’s satisfaction with the deliverables
- Obtain formal acceptance of the deliverables
- Ensure to what extent all expected products have been handed over and accepted by the Customer
- Confirm that maintenance and operation arrangements are in place (where appropriate)
- Make any recommendations for follow-on actions
- Capture lessons resulting from the project and complete the Lessons Learned Report
- Prepare an End Project Report
- Notify the host organisation of the intention to disband the project organisation and resources.
For more information check out my PRINCE2 Primer!