Here in this week's instalment of 'A Good Night Out with PRINCE2®', lead PRINCE2® trainer at SPOCE Project Management, Richard Lampitt takes us through two more of the all important PRINCE2® stages. If a good night out was a project and we wanted to run this PRINCE2® style, how would it all look? This week, he takes us through 'Directing a Project' the overall project control centre and 'Managing a Stage Boundary', the stage by stage planning and reporting.

It’s said that PRINCE2© is adaptable and can be tailored to suit any type and size of project in any environment. So, let’s put that to the test shall we and see how the various elements of PRINCE2, such as the Processes, Themes, Roles and Management Products relate to a small, straightforward project involving the organising and hosting of ‘A Good Night Out’, perhaps in my home county of Dorset!

The following are just some examples, NOT the ‘full’ detailed picture!

Tailoring examples are shown in blue text.

Directing a Project

Allows the Project Board to keep overall control of the project by making all the key decisions and committing to resources required by the project. Interfaces with external stakeholders. Can bring the project to a premature close at any time.

Ensures the amount of money required for the project is acceptable and available, based on the amount of benefits (Business Case Theme) to be gained from holding the night out and an assessment of the overall level of risk (Risk Theme) of holding a good night out!

Approves the overall planned scope, resources, activities, budget and timescale (Project Plan) (Plans Theme), approves the more detailed plans for each stage of the night out (Stage Plans) (Plans Theme). Sets any permissible deviations (tolerances) (Progress Theme) from the planned targets, e.g. for time and cost,and gives approval for the evening to commence, or not, on a stage-by-stage (or pub-by-pub) basis! These decisions and approvals will be given either verbally over the phone, or by text message.

Monitoring of the night out is done at regular intervals by receiving text messages every 2 hours (Highlight Reports) (Progress Theme) and ad-hoc monitoring in between this to check whether the evening is going as well as they’re being told in the text messages and that it’s still likely to result in the (expected benefits) (Business Case Theme). Decidingwhether the night out should continue, or perhaps should be drawn to a halt due to too many over eating or drinking related (issues) (Change Theme) and of course any emerging (risks) (Risk Theme)!

Responds to an (Exception Report) (Progress Theme), if any of the agreed tolerances are due to be exceeded, e.g. costing more and/or finishing later than planned. Can draw the night to an early end (premature close), at any time, if necessary, but certainly if their (tolerances) (Progress Theme) are being exceeded! Exception reporting will be handled by text message and/or by phone.

Managing a Stage Boundary

Gathers sufficient information at the end of each stage & plans the next stage in detail to allow a decision to be made on the continuing viability of the project. Re-plans (at the request of the Project Board) part way through a stage if tolerances are forecast to be exceeded.

Nearer the date of the night out, this process looks at and plans (Stage Plan) (Plans Theme) the finer detail of timings of who’s going to do what and when, budgets, scope, e.g. who and exactly how many people require pre-booked taxis and at what time of the evening will certain pub games be played, any further uncertainties identified and assessed (risks) (Risk Theme) e.g. possibility of wet/windy weather conditions when holding any outside games! As this project has only 2 stages, (one for initiation and one further stage covering the remainder of the project), the Project Plan, which covers the remainder of the project, will effectively by default, become the Stage Plan. This again will be the simple ‘checklist’ but have slightly more detailed activities, resources and timings added to it and include the product descriptions for the products to be developed by the project.

Reports to the Project Board on the new detail and the overall project situation (End Stage Report) (Progress Theme) to allow a further decision to be made on whether the night can continue and new permissible deviations (tolerances) (Progress Theme) for the next (Stage Plan) (Plans Theme) are discussed and agreed. The End Stage Report will be handled verbally, over the telephone.

NB: This project will only have the minimum of 2 stages, one for initiation and one further delivery stage covering the remainder of the project, which will include the organizing and holding of the actual night out in the chosen venue.

If however the night out involved several venues (perhaps pubs) to attend (note that I’m NOT promoting a pub crawl here!), that could entail several further stages, with each pub’s exit-point being treated as a (stage boundary) (Progress Theme and Plans Theme) and would trigger the Managing a Stage Boundary process again, to allow a review of money spent so far (Progress Theme), any existing (issues) (Change Theme) e.g. some people are too tired to continue, and (risks) (Risk Theme) to be assessed, e.g. the weather is looking very threatening for walking to the next pub (stage). A (Stage Plan) (Plans Theme) for the next stage (pub) would be created, which would include the activities, timescales and budget for the next stage (pub)! A further decision would then be made on whether the night out should continue!?This progress decision would be made at an (end stage assessment) (Progress Theme) and the (Stage Plan) (Plans Theme) for the next stage (pub) would be approved, or possibly not!? At this point the night out could well be drawn to a premature close by the Project Board, triggering the (Closing a Project process)!

At the request of the Project Board, the Project Manager produces an (Exception Plan) (Plans Theme) part way through the current stage, to replace the current stage plan if the agreed stage (tolerances) (Progress Theme) were forecast to be exceeded, e.g. actual spend on food and drinks is forecast to exceed the tolerances set for the planned budget! The Exception Plan will be the same format as the Stage Plan, as mentioned.

In next week's blog Richard takes us through 2 more PRINCE two stages, controlling a stage and managing product delivery.

Richard is the lead PRINCE2 trainer at SPOCE Project Management and runs many of our classroom and virtual classroom courses. If you are interested in finding out more about project sucess and the fundamentals of planning then why not contact us on...


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