PRINCE2’s processes are structured activities that turns one or more inputs into outputs. They are the tasks required to direct, manage, and deliver a project successfully.
There are 7 processes within the PRINCE2 methodology:
- 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
This initial process involves the activities necessary to ensure a viable and worthwhile project. The decision to proceed with the project occurs after this process is complete.
- Appoint the executive and project manager
The executive represents the interests of the organization (i.e. above the project), and the project manager represents the interests of the project. Both of these are appointed by the project’s parent organization.
- Capture previous lessons
Since a project is a temporary undertaking that produces a unique result, it is very important to capture lessons learned from other projects, other departments, and other organizations. This is performed at the beginning of the project.
- Design and appoint the project management team
The requirements for the project management team are determined, and the appropriate people are put in place.
- Prepare the outline business case
The executive prepares the business case for the project, which is referenced and continuously validated throughout the project life cycle.
- Select the project approach and assemble the project brief
The most important project delivery questions are answered, such as whether products will be delivered in-house or outsourced, or whether a product will be built from scratch or modified from an existing product.
- Plan the initiation stage
Constraints are identified and the project initiation stage is planned to ensure it is not aimless and unstructured.
Directing a Project
The activities of the Directing a Project process are:
- Authorize initiation
The project manager produces a project brief, which is given to the project board for approval. They also approve the first stage plan for the initiation stage (as well as each additional stage).
- Authorize the project
The project board authorizes the Project Initiation Document (PID) and the Benefits Management Approach, which outlines the benefits of the project to the organization.
- Authorize a stage or execution plan
The project board approves an End Stage Report for a completed stage, and a Stage Plan for the new stage. The Project Initiation Document (PID) is updated and the Benefits Management Approach are reconfirmed.
- Give ad hoc direction
The project board must give advice and direction as necessary to ensure the project meets its stage plans. The project manager produces highlight reports and exception reports as necessary, and new issues are produced when required.
- Authorize project closure
The project board must approve the End Project Report, which includes the Lessons Report, produced by the project manager. The Business Case is reconfirmed and the Benefits Management Approach is finalized. A Project Closure Notification is issued.
Initiating a Project
In other project management methodologies, this process is called planning. It is one of the most time consuming parts of project management, and also one of the most crucial. The success and failure of the project is very often directly related to the level of planning that was performed.
The activities within the Initiating a Project process are:
- Agree the tailoring requirements
The approach to tailoring the PRINCE2 methodology to the project is determined, and included within the PID.
- Prepare the risk management approach
The risk management approach, including the Risk Register, are produced. Risks are identified and prioritized, and the risk response plans determined.
- Prepare the change control approach
The change control approach is part of the PID. It determines how project changes will be handled and processed, who approves them, and how they are implemented. An Issue Register is created to track project issues that require corrective actions.
- Prepare the quality management approach
The quality management approach is part of the PID. It documents what the quality acceptance criteria are, how and when they will be measured, and how to handle off-specification products. The Quality Register documents quality assurance and control activities, and their results.
- Prepare the communication management approach
This communication management approach is part of the PID, and specifies how the project will handle communications with stakeholders. The timing, quantity, content, and medium are all specified to ensure communication is well managed.
- Set up the project controls
Project controls are those activities that are set up to ensure the project finishes on time, on budget, and within any other necessary tolerances. The project manager must summarize the project controls in the PID.
- Create the project plan
The project plan is part of the PID. It is produced by the project manager and contains the schedule, budget, and work breakdown structure for the project. It contains the product descriptions for each product the project will produce.
- Prepare the benefits management approach
PRINCE2 places a very high emphasis on benefits. It’s important to produce the project’s deliverables, but even more important to recognize what benefits those deliverables are giving the parent organization. The benefits management approach is part of the PID and is prepared by the project manager.
- Assemble the project initiation documentation (PID)
The project manager is responsible for assembling the PID, and it contains the following items:
- Project definition
- Project approach
- Business case
- Project management team structure
- Role descriptions
- Quality management approach
- Change control approach
- Risk management approach
- Communication management approach
- Project plan
- Project controls
- Tailoring of PRINCE2
Controlling a Stage
This process involves ensuring that a management stage remains within tolerance. It begins when a stage has been authorized to proceed by the project board, and the activities within it are mostly carried out by the project manager.
The activities are:
- Authorize a work package
A work package is a task, or activity. Once the management stage has been approved (by the project board), the work packages within it are authorized by the project manager and/or the team manager responsible for a portion of the project work.
- Review work package status
Periodically throughout the work package, the project manager must monitor and control the work package to ensure it completes within tolerances. The issue register, risk register, and configuration item records are updated as required.
- Receive completed work packages
The project manager receives the completed work packages and updates the stage plan accordingly.
- Review the management stage status
The project manager must monitor and control the stage status to ensure that it completes within tolerance. The checkpoint reports provide crucial information. If any issues arise, the issue register is updated and an Issue Report produced. Risks are periodically reviewed and re-analyzed to ensure their viability, resulting in an updated risk register. The stage plan is updated as necessary.
- Report highlights
Highlight reports are produced by the project manager and given to the project board. They update the project board at the interval agreed upon at the beginning of the project.
- Capture and assess issues and risks
Throughout the stage, issues will pop up. These issues are logged in the Issue Register. Usually, an associated risk has occurred and the risk register requires updating as well. An Issue Report is created and reviewed by the project board, but this activity applies to issues that can be dealt with by the project manager without exceeding the stage tolerances.
- Escalate issues and risks
If the issue cannot be dealt with without exceeding stage tolerances, an Issue Report is created and escalated to the project board for consideration of an exception.
- Take corrective action
When an issue occurs, most often a new work package must be produced to implement corrective actions.
Managing Product Delivery
This process is focused on the delivery of the project’s end product or service. It is carried out primarily by the team manager, that is, the technical manager that carries out parts of the project, and reports to the project manager.
There are three activities in this process:
- Accept a work package
Prior to beginning work on a work package, the team manager and project manager agree as to what is to be delivered. The tolerances and quality levels are confirmed, and the requirements are well understood. The team manager creates a plan for the work package.
- Execute a work package
This activity refers to the carrying out of the work by the project team, to produce the Specialist Products (the products or services the project was created to produce). Throughout the activity, the team manager issues Checkpoint Reports, and updates the Issue Register, Quality Register, Configuration item records and Risk Register.
- Deliver a work package
At the conclusion of the work package, the Specialist Products are delivered and the work package is complete. The stage plan is updated.
Managing a Stage Boundary
As the end of a management stage is approaching, this process kicks in. It is required so that the project board can review the success of the current stage and approve the next stage. At the stage boundary, the PID is updated, and all the major project documents are reviewed and confirmed.
Most of the activities in this process are carried out by the project manager. The activities are:
- Plan the next management stage
In the latter part of each management stage, the next stage must be planned. The PID is updated and the next Stage Plan is produced.
- Update the project plan
The project manager updates the project plan, a part of the PID which includes things like schedules, budgets, and quality specifications.
- Update the business case
The business case that underpins the project and establishes its viability must be reconfirmed and updated if necessary.
- Report management stage end
At the end of the stage, the project manager creates an End Stage Report, and a Lessons Learned report (if necessary) and requests approval from the board to approve the next stage plan.
- Produce an exception plan
If a project or stage deviates outside of its tolerances, it no longer has the support of the project board. In this case, an Exception Plan must be created which takes the place of the Project Plan.
Closing a Project
A project is a temporary endeavor. That is, it has a finite beginning and end. Some projects lose their defined end point and drift into a quasi state of never ending continuum, and these projects are not strictly projects anymore.
The project closure activities tend to be small yet highly visible to senior management, thus they tend to have an outsized role in perceived project success.
There are five activities in the Closing a Project process:
- Prepare planned closure
The acceptance criteria are reviewed and it is confirmed that they are met. The project manager updates the Project Plan with actual schedule, budget, quality, and other details as necessary.
- Prepare premature closure
If the project board has instructed the project manager to close the project early, the project manager salvages items of value and ensures that any gaps in work complete are passed on to the relevant parties.
- Hand over products
At the conclusion of the project, the product or service created by the project is handed over to the client or customer. This often includes documentation, recordings, or ceremonial activities. The project manager obtains an Acceptance Record.
- Evaluate the project
The project manager creates and End Project Report, which includes a Lessons report. These reports review the project and team performance, assess the product against the business case, and review the project in relation to its planned targets and tolerances.
- Recommend project closure
The project manager issues a Closure Recommendation for approval to the project board.