Creating PRINCE2 Project Product Description
The very first step in Product-Based Planning is to write the Project Product Description.
This is a description of the main product that the project will produce (for example, the “Apartment Block”).
A detailed Project Product Description is very important to understand what needs to be produced by the project and to understand the required quality.
The Senior User is responsible for providing the information on the Project Product Description, but in practice, the Project Manager might do most of the work in preparing this document, as they will be used to it.
They will consult with the Senior User and Executive in this regard.
The Project Product Description should be as detailed and complete as possible and it can have the following format as described in Appendix A of this PRINCE2 manual: Project
The Product Description
- Identifier: A unique key ( used by Configuration Management )
- Title: The Project Name (e.g., Apartment Block)
- Purpose: What is the purpose of the product? (For example: To build high-quality apartment block with 8 x 2 bedroom apartments to rent out.
- Composition: A description of the major products to be delivered by the project (such as a description of the apartments).
- Source Products: List of products that are used to create the product but are not seen as part of the final product (for example, architect plan, scaffolding, and building equipment).
- Skills Required: Skills required to create the products
- Customer Quality Expectations: A description of the expected quality and standards that will be used. This will cover all specifications and the functionally of each product.
- Acceptance Criteria: A checklist – a prioritized list of criteria that the product must provide before it can be accepted by the customer. See this as a spreadsheet list of all the Quality Expectations, with an extra column to mark accepted.
- Tolerances: Tolerance for time, costs, quality, scope, benefits and risks
- Acceptance method: Describe how the Project Product may be accepted
- Acceptance Responsibility: Who will be responsible for confirming acceptance?
The Project Product Description
Don’t confuse the Project Product Description with the normal Product Descriptions, the Project Product Description is a description of the main product that will be produced by the project.
The Project Product Description is created in the Starting Up a Project process.
It becomes part of the Project Brief and may be refined in the Initiation Stage when creating the Project Plan. After this, the Project Product Description is subject to change control, as it is baselined at the end of the Initiation Stage.
The Product Descriptions are created in the IP stage as part of the planning activity.
The Project Product Description is used by the Closing a Project Process to help verify that the project has delivered what was expected and that the acceptance criteria have been met.
A good example of a Project Product Description that I like to use is the information that is provided for a laptop computer on a computer web site.
There will be an overview description, features, specifications and guarantee information.
See the websites of Dell, HP or Asus for an example. As you can see it does not have to be 100 pages.
According to the PRINCE2 manual a Project Product Description should include
- The purpose of the main product, i.e., what the project must deliver to gain acceptance
- Its composition, i.e., the set of products that will be delivered during the project that make up the main product
- Customer’s Quality Expectations
- Acceptance Criteria, Acceptance Methods and Acceptance Responsibilities
- Project-level quality tolerances
Product-Based Planning – Example
As mentioned at the start of this chapter, few project managers use the Product Breakdown Structure, so here is a simple example. Let us first start with a simple Product Description.
Example Project Product Description for Website Project Title
- Development Skills
Etc… Book Web site
- Create a web site to promote a new book. The Web site should allow visitors to register, view a sample, buy the book and join a newsletter list
• Welcome Page
• Registration Page
• Register Page for Newsletter
• Purchase Page
• Copy of Book
• Hosting provided name
• Site Design & Layout Requirements
• Web Site Template
• Layout for Registration Page
• Hosting provided name
• Joomla Knowledge
• Knowledge to set up site with hosting company
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