In the final post in her series on the Most Common Questions from PRINCE2 Foundation Training, Lead Trainer Michelle Rowland addresses some of the most frequently asked questions from Chapters 11 through to 18 of the PRINCE2 textbook.
Chapters 11 and 12
What is the purpose of the Starting up a Project process?
The Starting up a Project process is a “cheap and cheerful” way of allowing an informed decision to be made on whether a project is viable or not. The aim is to provide that information as quickly as possible, but still gaining enough information to allow that judgement to be made and then to plan what is required in order to Initiate a Project.
How does the Project Board use the principle of “manage by exception” during the Directing a Project process and why?
The project board delegates authority to the Project Manager on a stage by stage basis using tolerances which are typically set as a minimum for deviation in time, cost but also for quality, scope, risk and benefit. Tolerance is the permissible deviation allowed above and below the plan’s target before the Project Manager needs to escalate it to the project board. The principle of manage by exception enables the Project Manager to agree a plan with the project board and get on with delivery without needing to involve the project board in the day-to-day management of the project, saving the valuable time of the project board members. The project board needs to get involved at key decisions points such as at the end of each stage, or where tolerances are forecast to be exceeded or at project closure.
What is the difference between the Starting up a Project process and the Initiating a Project process? And what happens to these processes in a small project?
Starting up a Project is, as explained earlier, the initial process to collect information to enable a quick decision on whether to start a project or not; Initiating a Project follows this and is where more detailed planning takes place. The project initiation documentation is produced and the governance of the project is defined. In a small project, where appropriate, these two processes can be combined.
Chapter 15, 16 and 17
What is the difference between the following three processes?
- Controlling a stage
- Managing product delivery
- Managing a stage boundary
- Controlling a stage is where the Project Manager manages the project on a day-to-day basis and primarily has three functions:
- To allocate work to the team manager(s) using work packages and receive it back from the team manager(s)
- To monitor and report on delivery, issuing regular highlight reports to the project board
- To take corrective action and control when there is a deviation from the plan.
- Managing product delivery interfaces with controlling a stage; the team manager manages the delivery of products by accepting the work package from the project manager and delivers against it, reports on progress via checkpoint reports to the Project Manager and returns completed work back to the Project Manager.
- Managing a stage boundary is when a stage is coming to an end and the project manager needs to review what work has been completed in the current stage, assess what hasn’t been done, plan the next stage and identify in more detail the products, costs and time for the following stage. This process allows the Project Manager to review the impact on time, cost and the business case across the whole project and then report the findings to the project board to make decisions.
The key difference between the three is a) day-to-day management, b) where the team manager delivers work and c) the preparation for the next stage.
Often resources are removed from the project before the Closing a Project process is completed - how can this be avoided?
The Closing a Project process should be planned and costed during the Initiating a Project process – it is an integral part of the project plan and should be taken into account in the business case. The process is part of the final delivery stage and not, as it is sometimes perceived, a separate stage. If it is planned from the beginning then resources and funding have already been allocated and therefore should not be removed before the process is completed.
It’s important to fully complete this process as the project’s product needs to be properly handed over to the customer. In addition, project managers won’t collect the data from the project or learn lessons to pass on to their next projects. Without a proper close to a project we do not learn and the same mistakes are continuously built into the next projects we do. It also enables the customer, the business, to understand how to use and maintain the end product properly.
Read the other blog posts in this series
Most common questions from PRINCE2® Foundation training - Chapters 1-6
Most common questions from PRINCE2® Foundation training - Chapters 7-10
Has our series of blogs from Michelle Rowland answered your questions about the PRINCE2 Foundation qualification? Are there other areas of the methodology that you would have appreciated additional guidance on? Please share your questions or thoughts in the comments box below.