A PRINCE2 plan provides an overview of how and when objectives are to be achieved during a certain time in a project. A plan will show the products (scope) that will be delivered, perhaps the activities and resources required. In PRINCE2, there are three levels of plan:
- Project Plan: Used mainly by the Project Board but also the Project Manager
- Stage Plan: This is the day to day plan for a Project Manager during a stage.
- Team Plan: Created and used by the Team Manager
Team Plans are optional, and the Team Manager can use any format they like to create their own plan. The PRINCE2 Project Manager should be mainly concerned that the products pass their quality tests so product are fit for use.
A Project Plan provides the Business Case with an estimate of planned costs of the project, and it identifies the management stages and other major control points that will be used. The Project Plan is used by the Project Board as a baseline against which to monitor project Progress , so the Project Board can be asking “how are we doing compared to the original project plan?”
Stage Plans outline the products to be delivered, the required resources, sometimes the activities if required. The Stage Plans should also incldue the specific controls that will be used to show progress and and allow the level above the monitor progress against a baseline.
Team Plans (if used as they are optional) could comprise just a schedule appended to the Work Package(s) assigned to the Team Manager .
PRINCE2 says that a plan should cover not just the activities to create products but can also the activities to manage product creation - including activities for assurance, quality management, risk management, configuration management, communication and any other project controls required. Defining the activities to create the products may be OK for predictive projects where it easy to define the majority of the activities up front but this is not the case in al projects. In fact, defining the activities in detail upfront can give a false sense of security that all will be perfect :-)
Sample Initiation Stage Plan
- This is a good example of an Initiation Stage Plan and it is taken from the PEN Sample project
- It is mainly focused on the deliverables instead of all the activities required to deliver the product
Sample Project Plan
Sample Stage Plan
- The first plan created in a project is the plan for the Initiation Stage (The Initiation Stage Plan)
- The Project Plan for the whole project is created Initiation Stage
- A plan for each future stage is created in the Stage Boundary process
- The Team Managers normally create their Team Plans while they assist the Project Manager with the Stage Plan
- The Project Plan is updated during each Stage Boundary process to show the following
- What has been delivered
- What is still to be delivered
- Estimate end date of the project as this can keep changing
Source data for Plans
- Project Brief - mainly for the Project Plan and to get the Scope of the project
- Quality Management Approach as document provides information on quality management activities to be included in the plan
- Risk Management Approach for risk management activities
- Communication Management Approach for communication management activities
- Change Control Approach for configuration management activities
- Resource availability which can be tricky to get
- Project registers and logs
Format of a Plan
- A stand-alone document or a section of the Project Initiation Documentation , separate document, spreadsheet, presentation slides or mindmap
- Online plan in a project management information system (PMIS)
- Standalone plan in a project management application
- Product checklist of activities
Quality Criteria for a Plan
- The plan should not be optimistic and must be achievable
- Estimates are based on consultation with the experienced resources who will undertake the work
- Team Managers should agree that their part of the plan is achievable and not forced to depend on overtime to complete work.
- It is planned to an appropriate level of detail (do not micro-manage your team members and gathering lots of data on how many minutes it took each activity is not so important when compared to asking what else can the project do to increase benefits).
- The plan conforms to required corporate or programme standards
- The plan incorporates lessons from previous project which should be checked by the Project Board
- Legal requirements are included
- The Plan covers management and control activities especially quality activities
- The plan supports the four approaches: Quality, Change Control, Risk and Communications
- The plan supports the management controls defined in the project controls section of the Project Initiation Documentation.
Some tips from Frank
- Keep the plans as simple as needed
- The Project Manager should have a trusting relationship with the Team Managers
- The Project Manager should not bother to ask the Team Managers for lists of detailed activities on how they will deliver products
- Keep in mind that the most important thing is that products are delivered and meeting the expected quality requirements
- Use a physical or online information radiator to communicate progress