In two previous posts, we discussed the Principles and Themes of the PRINCE2 Methodology. The last structural component of PRINCE2 is the seven processes. These include:
- Starting Up a Project
- Directing a Project
- Initiating a Project
- Controlling a Stage
- Managing Product Delivery
- Managing a Stage Boundary
- Closing a Project
Starting Up a Project
Every project has starting point, in the PRINCE2 Methodology, this process is called Starting Up a Project. The primary purpose of this process is to ensure the organization has a viable project, with tangible benefits which can be realized, and one that is a sound monetary investment. The outputs of this process are prerequisites for the Initiating a Project process. The Project Mandate is created by Corporate or Program Management and becomes the skeleton draft of the Business Case. This provides the rationale for the project, answering the question as to why the project should be undertaken. This process also creates the Project Brief, which is very similar to a Project Charter. This document usually includes Business Goals and Objectives, In Scope and Out of Scope Work Items, Assumptions and Constraints, Project Tolerances, and Stakeholder Identification. This process is also important because this is the point where the Project Executive, representing the Business interests on the project is appointed; along with the Project Manager.
Directing a Project
The Directing a Project Process is the foundation for key decision making in the PRINCE2 Methodology, as this is the process where the Project Board exercises its authority. The purpose of this process is for the Project Board to Initiate a Project, Authorize the Project, Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan, Give Ad Hoc Direction to the Project Manager, and to Authorize Project Closure. This is where the Management by Exception Principle in PRINCE2 really comes into play. In general, there are no regular status meetings for the Project Board. Instead, the Project Manager is responsible for keeping the Project Board regularly informed via Highlight Reports. If the project is forecasted to deviate from accepted tolerances, the Project Board is immediately notified to make a decision. If the deviation is within tolerance, the Project Manager is given the latitude to make decisions. In general, the decisions made by the Project Board during the Directing a Project Process is Event Driven, such as Authorizing a Stage.
Initiating a Project
The Initiating a Project Process provides a solid foundation for the project by the careful and deliberate plans which are produced. This will include the Risk Management Strategy, Quality Management Strategy, Configuration Management Strategy, Project Controls, the Project Plan, and a refined version of the Business Case. These plans are rolled up into what is called the Project Initiation Documentation (PID). Once complete, a Request to Deliver a Project is sent up to the Project Board for formal authorization via the Directing a Project Process.
Controlling a Stage
Once the Request to Deliver a Project is approved by the Project Board, the first management stage is initiated. The Controlling a Stage process allows the Project Manager to break the project up into manageable chunks. Work is formally assigned, progress is monitored day to day, issues are raised by the project team, progress is reported to the Project Board via Highlight Reports, and corrective actions are taken to prevent the project from deviating from allowable tolerances. The Controlling a Stage Process is the bridge between Managing Product Delivery and the Directing a Project Process.
Managing Product Delivery
The Managing Product Delivery Process is the primary control point between the Project Manager (in Controlling a Stage Process), and the Team Manager responsible for producing the specialist work. The Team Manager produces Checkpoint Reports on a regular basis (Time Driven) to the Project Manager to ensure the products produced are meeting expectations within the agreed upon tolerance. These products are referred to as Work Packages, which are accepted (product requirements are approved), executed (products are produced by specialist work), and delivered (products are delivered).
Managing a Stage Boundary
Managing a Stage Boundary is an Event Driven Process, it ensures the Project Board is provided with enough information to approve the next Stage Plan (if applicable), and update the existing Project Plan. It also allows the Project Board to review the continued business justification of the project, one of the seven themes in the PRINCE2 Methodology. If the project is not going according to plan and is out of tolerance, an Exception Report is produced. At this point, the project may be prematurely closed. If however, the project is still viable, an Exception Assessment is conducted, which ultimately may lead to the approval and implementation of an Exception Plan. This allows the project work to continue, without resorting to premature closure.
Closing a Project
The Closing a Project Process is also Event Driven, this means all the project’s products have been accepted, the objectives stated have been achieved, or the project is no longer viable and must be prematurely closed. The project’s performance is usually compared with the original baselines set, benefits are reviewed for realization, and open issues and risks have been adequately addressed. It is at this point the project team is disbanded in an organized manner.