PRINCE2 Process: The Reigning Project Management Methodology

We continue our series on PRINCE2, as previous posts covered PRINCE2 Fundamentals and roles. This post is concerned with the 7 phase processes of PRINCE2.

The 7 phase process of PRINCE2

The PRINCE2 process is broken up into 7 (surprise!) phases:

1. Starting up a project

  • Someone submits a request for a new project, called the project mandate. The project mandate is very brief, covering only why the project is necessary and what it will ideally accomplish.
  • Someone assesses every project mandate to make sure the company is capable of taking on the project.
  • If approved, the person who initiated the project then submits a more detailed project brief, which covers the actions, resources, manpower, etc. needed to execute the project.

2. Directing a project

  • The project board reviews and evaluates project briefs based on business justification and viability for another round of approval/disapproval.
  • The project board decides what it needs to do in order to organize and execute each approved project, and what/how they’re going to delegate to the project manager.

3. Initiating a project

  • The project manager creates the Project Initiation Documentation, including a comprehensive project plan and baselines for 6 performance targets: time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits.
  • Initiation documents are sent to the project board for approval. Once the board is confident in the project plan, they give their approval once again and work begins.

4. Controlling a stage

  • The project manager breaks down the project into smaller “work packages” and passes them off to team managers and teams to complete.
  • The project manager oversees the progress of work packages during each stage and steps in to help overcome roadblocks or correct any mistakes, if necessary.
  • Team managers coordinate detailed daily work and act as the link between the project manager and individual team members, helping to make sure everything goes according to plan.

5. Managing product delivery

  • The project manager checks progress against the project brief and makes sure deliverables meet PRINCE2 quality expectations.
  • The project board evaluates completed work packages and either approves them or requests revisions/changes.

6. Managing stage boundaries

  • The project manager and project board review each stage to make sure the project is progressing according to plan and meeting project assurance requirements.
  • At each review, the project board decides whether to continue with the next stage or to abandon the project completely.
  • Project managers hold a retrospective with the project team to record any lessons learned and improve the next stage.

7. Closing the project

  • When the project is complete, the project manager wraps up any loose threads, including PRINCE2 documentation, outcomes, and reporting.

Types of PRINCE2 documentation

Throughout the 7 stages of PRINCE2, records are kept so the project stays organized and on track. These records are also used to report to the project board, check deliverables against quality requirements, and improve future work processes.

  • Business case: Detailed description of why the project is needed and its expected benefits to users and the business.
  • Risk register: Lists the probability and potential impacts of risks and opportunities.
  • Quality register: A running log of quality checks that ensure deliverables meet expectations.
  • Issues register: A list of problems and concerns from project team members.
  • Lessons log: Notes on lessons learned to apply to the next work stage and/or future projects.
  • Daily log: A daily diary written by the project manager that reports activity and progress.

PRINCE2 in project management

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