Directing a Project in PRINCE2 

 March 28, 2020

By  Dave Litten

Directing a Project in PRINCE2

The project board use the PRINCE2 Directing a Project process to provide direction and authorization to the project at key points…. 

Directing a Project in PRINCE2

The project board use the PRINCE2 Directing a Project process to provide direction and authorization to the project at key points.  

This enables the project board to be accountable for the project’s success by ensuring that key decisions are made while exercising overall control.

The project board delegate day-to-day management of the project to the project manager, and release the project to the project manager one stage at a time.

The PRINCE2 process Directing a project contains four activity points where key decisions are made.  

The fifth activity point is used primarily for communication between the project board, the project manager and other key stakeholders.

PRINCE2 Directing a Project objectives

Directing the project has six key objectives, and they ensure that:

  • ​​​​​There is appropriate authority to initiate the project
  • There is authority to deliver the project products
  • The project remains viable and management direction and control are in place throughout the projects life.
  • The project board executive Interface is regularly with corporate or programme management
  • There is authority to close the project
  • A benefit review plan for realising the post project benefits is created, managed and reviewed.
Directing A Project Prince2
Directing a Project PRINCE2

Having an effective project board using the PRINCE2 directing a project process on a project is vital to the success of the project, as it consists of a group of managers who have overall responsibility for a project.

The PRINCE2 project board will must understand that they cannot delegate all responsibility for a project to the project manager as they also have some responsibilities.

The work that the project board perform is covered by the PRINCE2 directing a project process, and that the project board use the PRINCE2 technique management by exception.

Ownership of the project will ensure the project board and their main responsibilities are their to help manage the project, but not to carry out any of the work.

Project boards using the PRINCE2 directing a project process, must have appropriate authority as well as responsibility in order to make decisions about a project.

Another aspect that is often forgotten when designing and appointing those who are to be on the project board and use the directing a project process, is their availability and commitment to carry out their role.

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The PRINCE2 directing a project process expects to apply management by exception, where members of the project board usually only need to get involved at particular points during the project; and these include:

Directing a Project PRINCE2 Activities

After the PRINCE2 starting up a project process has completed, under the PRINCE2 process directing a project and will meet for the first time to make a decision about whether or not to invest in the initiation stage.

At the end of the initiation stage the project will meet again to perform two key activities; to sign of the project initiation documentation, and hence the authorise the project, and to approve the next stage plan (the first delivery stage in a PRINCE2 project) the project authorization activity in the PRINCE2 directing a project process.

At any point within a PRINCE2 management stage, members of the project board, may need to give information to the project manager, although project manager may need to ask questions or get advice and guidance for members of the project board.

The PRINCE2 directing a project process has an activity called ‘give adhoc direction’ to provide a communication conduit for the above to happen, as well as for when the  project board will receive regular highlight reports on progress of the current management stage.

At the end of each stage, the project manager will request an end stage assessment, and project board will need to make a decision about whether to proceed to the next stage or not.

As the last delivery stage in a project concludes, the project board needs to make a decision that the project has completed in a successful manner, and that it should be closed.

The PRINCE2 Directing a Project process starts when the Starting Up a Project process completes and is triggered by the request from the project manager to initiate a project.

The PRINCE2 project board uses the technique management by exception.  It monitors via reports and provides control via a number of the decision points.

For management by exception to work, the project board must set tolerance, and if at any point this is forecasted to be exceeded, the project manager will inform the project board via an Exception Report to bring the situation to the project board’s attention.

With PRINCE2 management by exception there is no need for progress meetings.  As already mentioned there must be an information conduit between the project board and corporate or programme management, how this is to occur should be documented in the Communication Management Strategy.

Although it is the executive of the project board who has the veto on any decisions and direction given, the project board should provide a unified direction and guidance to the project manager and other key stakeholders.  The project board is responsible for assuring that there is continued business justification, and this is why the project Board Executive owns the project Business Case.

PRINCE2 Directing a Project process

In summary, the five activities within the PRINCE2 Directing a Project process are:

  • Authorise initiation
  • Authorise the project
  • Authorise a stage or exception plan
  • Give ad hoc direction
  • Authorise project closure

Dave Litten

David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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