A process is a structured set of activities designed to accomplish a specific objective. PRINCE2 has activities for Starting Up a Project, running a project, and many others. It groups these into processes.
PRINCE2 is a process-based approach for project management. There are 7 processes that guide you through the project, and each provides a set of activities. These activities help to direct, manage and deliver a project, and are described in the PRINCE2 manual. Like any process, a PRINCE2 process takes one or more inputs, acts on them, and provides defined outputs.
The 7 PRINCE2 process are:
- Starting Up a Project (SU)
- Initiating a Project (IP)
- Directing a Project (DP)
- Controlling a Stage CS)
- Managing Product Delivery (MP)
- Managing a Stage Boundary (SB)
- Closing a Project (CP)
Note: each of the above links brings you to the detailed article on the process. This article is a summary of all of them.
An Overview of the Processes
As mentioned earlier, there are seven management processes in PRINCE2. Each process is the responsibility of one of the management levels in the project organization, meaning the Project Board, Project Manager or Team Manager.
Directing a Project Process
- Main article: Directing a Project
Directing a Project is the responsibility of the Project Board. It runs from the start of the project until its end. Note that the Starting Up a Project process happens before the project starts. During this Directing a Project process, the Project Board authorizes project stages and manages the overall project by using the management style Management by Exception.
The Starting Up a Project Process
- Main article: Starting Up a Project
This is the responsibility of both the Project Manager and the Executive. This is the very first process and is, in fact, known as the Pre-Project process, referring to the fact that it occurs before the project starts, as the project does not start until the Initiation Stage begins. In this process, the reasons for the project are established, the project management team is assigned, and a Stage Plan is created to run the Initiation Stage.
The Initiating a Project Process
- Main article: Initiating a Project
The Initiating a Project process is the process that defines the Project Product, product quality, project timeline and costs, risk analysis, and commitment of resources, and assembles the PID (Project Initiation Documentation). This is also the process where the Project Plan is created and the Business Case for the project is finalized. All of this information is assembled into the Project Initiation Documentation.
The Controlling a Stage Process
- Main article: Controlling a Project
The Controlling a Stage process is where the Project Manager does most of his work. The Project Manager watches over the work, takes corrective action, observes changes, and communicates with stakeholders, which includes reporting. Each action can be repeated many times by the Project Manager until the stage is complete. The project is divided into stages for management and control efficiency. The Controlling a Stage process monitors each stage and is repeated for each stage in the project.
The Managing Product Delivery Process
- Main article: Managing Product Delivery
Managing Product Delivery is the process where the planned products are created and it comes under the responsibility of the Team Manager. It is where the Work Packages are executed, the products get created, and work gets done. The Team Manager receives the Work Packages (which are a list of tasks) from the Project Manager, and delivers the completed and tested Work Packages back to the Project Manager.
The Managing a Stage Boundary Process
- Main article: Managing a Stage Boundary
The Managing a Stage Boundary process has two main functions: (1) reporting on the performance of the existing stage and (2) planning the next stage. Therefore, the Project Board can check on how well the stage has done against the Stage Plan. In other words, this process evaluates the stage and prepares the plan for the next stage. The End Stage Report and Next Stage Plan are submitted to the Project Board.
The Closing a Project Process
- Main article: Closing a Project
The Closing a Project process covers the work of wrapping up the project and this process is the last part of the last stage. PRINCE2 suggests a number of activities to be done to prepare the project for closure, such as End Project Report, Lessons Learned Report and Acceptance Record.
The output of this process will be the basis for the Project Board’s confirmation for closure, as the project is closed by the Project Board in the Directing a Project process and not by the Project Manager.
The following is a quick overview of the project lifecycle; the way processes are run through the management stages. The following figure summarizes the information.
What happens before the project starts? This is known as Pre-Project (project has not started yet).
Someone, somewhere, at sometime has an idea or a need. This can be a business opportunity or something that is necessary to do for the company (e.g., a change in legislation like a CO2 reduction). This idea or need is the trigger for the project.
The first step that is normally taken is the creation of a project mandate document. This is why we say that the project mandate is the Trigger for the project. A project mandate can be a simple one-page note, an email, or a structured document based on a company project mandate template.
There are a number of Pre-Project activities to be done and these are referred to as the project start-up. PRINCE2 suggests a number of pre-project activities that should be done. All of them are contained in a process (i.e., the Starting Up a Project process).
The main objective of the Starting Up a Project process is to verify that the project is worthwhile. The project mandate is expanded to a Project Brief, and a plan is created for the Initiation stage. The Starting Up a Project process is also about preventing poor projects from starting.
This is the first Stage in a project and the activities to be performed for project initiation are contained in the Initiating a Project process. The main objectives of the Initiation Stage are to:
- Define the Project Product quality, project timeline, costs, risk analysis and commitment of resources, and then assemble the Project Initiation Documentation (PID). The PID contains almost all of the project information to date, including the Project Plan.
- Create a detailed Business Case, document the benefits and prepare a Benefits Review Plan that will describe how and when Benefits will be reviewed.
- The Project Plan is a high-level plan for the whole project. A Stage Plan is also created for the first delivery Stage Plan (in the Stage Boundary process), which is a lot more detailed.
At the end of the Initiation Stage, the Project Board will receive the PID and decide whether to authorize the project or not. In simple terms, this means that the Project Board will decide (Yes or No) to allow the project to start. If yes, the PID is baselined so it can be used in the future to compare the project objectives with the current situation.
Next Stage or Stages after the Initiation Stage
- Assigns work to be done (assigns work to the Team Managers).
- Checks that all deliverables have passed the required quality tests.
- Checks that stage is in line with Stage Plan.
- Checks that forecasts are within project tolerances.
- All these activities are done in the Controlling a Stage process.
The Project Manager keeps the Project Board up to date about the progress of the project using the Highlight Report. For example, the Project Board may have agreed to receive a Highlight Report every two weeks from the Project Manager.
Towards the end of a stage in the Managing a Stage Boundary process, the Project Manager will request permission to proceed to the next stage and will have to provide the following information to the Project Board: Updated Business Case, End Stage Report, and Next Stage Plan.
Final Delivery Stage
During the final stage, the Project Manager will be accepting and getting approval for the last products to be produced, and will focus on decommissioning the project.
The Project Board will check that the recipients of the project's products are in a position to own and use them, and will also check that they will be supported after the project has stopped.
The Closing a Project process is always the last part of the last stage and it describes a number of activities that should be done, such as:
- Assessing the project by comparing it to the original plan
- Writing End Project Report
- Planning post-project benefits reviews
- Writing and delivering Lessons Learned Report
- PRINCE2 Foundation online training course
- PRINCE2 Practitioner online training course
- PRINCE2 Agile online training course
Other PRINCE2 Links
- PRINCE2 Foundation Exam Simulator - FREE
- Email awareness courses (PRINCE2, PMP, Scrum, Agile)
- PRINCE2 online - Compare all PRINCE2 online Foundation courses
PeopleCert runs the PRINCE2 Foundation exam and PRINCE2 Practitioner exam for the accredited training organisations (ATO) and these can be provided in the classroom or online.
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