Here you can read the entire blog series our SPOCE lead PRINCE2® trainer has been posting for the last 5 weeks. Richard Lampitt takes us on a 'Good night out with PRINCE2®.' If a good night out was a project and we wanted to run this PRINCE2® style, how would it all look? In this post we compile all of the 7 Project Stages so you can see how ordinary life is full of projects and how we can use PRINCE2® in any environment.
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.
Stage 1: Starting Up a Project
Answers the question: is it a viable & worthwhile project?
Ensures sufficient information is prepared to set a firm foundation for the initiation of the project.
Applicable PRINCE2 elements, i.e. the ‘themes’, ‘roles’ and ‘management products’ are shown in (bold in brackets).
Assigns someone to be the main decision-maker for the night out, who can secure the funding for the night out (Executive role) and someone who will plan, organise and manage the hosting of the night out (Project Manager role). Being such a simple/small project, the chosen Project Manager will also undertake the responsibilities of (Project Support role) and the (Team Manager role).
The Project Manager has installed an App on their mobile phone to use to make notes/reminders of actions to take during the project etc, which will be their (Daily Log) (Progress Theme). They will also use this App to make a note of any (issues) (Change Theme) and (risks) (Risk Theme) that arise and need managing.
Considers what went well/not so well on previous nights out and capture those lessons in a (Lessons Log) (Progress Theme). Perhaps too many people were invited the last time, which caused problems with seating arrangements? The Project Manager will also use the App (Daily Log) on their phone to capture such lessons.
Considers who may like to attend the night out, as in the ‘users’, and who else the night out may be of interest to and/or it may affect them in some way (stakeholders) (Organization Theme), perhaps other family members need to be consulted about the attendees, or ‘users’, getting home late?!
The people attending the night out will be the ‘users’, so someone should ensure the night out will be the sort of night out they would like and will meet their needs/requirements (Senior User role).
Note that, whoever’s the main decision-maker (Executive role), if they understand the needs of the attendees (users), theycould also take on the responsibility of ensuring the night will meet the needs for those people attending (Senior User responsibility), so that one person could therefore take on ‘both’ the Executive and Senior User roles. Alternatively, the Project Manager could be the Senior User if they understand the needs of the attendees.
Considers which venue will have sufficient resources to feed and entertain the attendees. This venue will be the supplier environment. The chosen venue’s manager will be the (Senior Supplier role), as they and their staff will besupplying the required resources, e.g. venue, venue staff, food, drinks, bar games, as well as creating the products, e.g. the food menu, drinks menu, invites and bar games list etc. The Project Manager will directly liaise with the venue staff regarding the products they need them to create, e.g. the food and drinks menus, so will also be acting as the (Team Manager role).
Note: The Senior User, Executive and Senior Supplier are collectively the (Project Board) and they will be doing their own (Project Assurance roles of
Business Assurance, User Assurance and Supplier Assurance). All of these and the above roles and interested parties (stakeholders) are relevant to the (Organization Theme). There are 10 PRINCE2 Project Management Team roles in total.The total number of people assigned to fulfil all of the roles in this project is just three! The Project Board also ensured the business (those with a financial interest), user (the attendees) and supplier (the chosen venue staff) stakeholders were represented throughout. Who’s fulling which role/roles was shown as a simple table of responsibilities to suit nature of the project.
Considers what the project product will be, in this case it will be an ‘Organized and Hosted Night Out’. This will have a (Project Product Description) (Quality Theme and Plans Theme) written for it andwill simply include the purpose of, scope of, e.g. what major products need to be produced, and quality expectations (Customer’s Quality Expectations) (Quality Theme) of the attendees, as well as their overall criteria (Acceptance Criteria) (Quality Theme) which the night must meet for it to be ultimately acceptable to them. They set tolerances (Progress Theme) for some of the Acceptance Criteria.
Decides what the main objectives are that we want to achieve during the night out and within what cost and timeframe.Works out if there’s enough good things (benefits) (Business Case Theme) to be gained from having a night out compared to what it’s likely to cost, and that the evening isn’t going to be too risky (Risk Theme). Ultimately ensures there’s a (desirable balance of benefits vs costs and risks) (Business Case Theme), e.g. the benefits of the night out could be: measurably happier and relaxed people and a sum of money to be raised for charity. The Business Case (Business Case Theme) will be a simple half a page statement outlining why the night out is needed, what it’s estimated to cost and what benefits it’s expected to generate. They set a benefits tolerance ‘below’ the fund raising target, but no maximum tolerance was set, and quite rightly too!
All the above information (apart from what will go in the App (Daily Log) on the phone) will be assembled as a (Project Brief) (ALL PRINCE2 Themes are relevant). This will be a simple (brief) 2, or 3 paged document which will outline the project’s objectives and be used to help initiate the project.
A quick outline of what will be done during the initiation stage (Initiation Stage Plan) (Plans Theme) will also be produced. This will be shown as a simple ‘checklist’ of tasks to be carried out during the initiation stage. Basically showing what needs to be done during the initiation stage in order to plan the project and set-up the various project’s controls. (SEE THE NEXT PROCESS, INITIATING A PROJECT, FOR MORE INFO).a nutshell…this process answers the questions…”is the night out (project) going to be affordable and worthwhile”? And, “will the benefits be greater than the costs and potential risks of having the night out”?
In next weeks blog Richard takes us through 'Initiating a Project'. This part of the project 'Plans the project and sets up the project management controls/approaches to ensure a solid foundation is set for the project. Ensures all the key stakeholders understand what we’re going to do, why, where, when, who’s involved and at what cost.'
Stage 2: Initiating a Project
Plans the project and sets up the project management controls/approaches to ensure a solid foundation is set for the project. Ensures all the key stakeholders understand what we’re going to do, why, where, when, who’s involved and at what cost.
Covers all the work required of the first stage (Initiation Stage).
Plans the main scope of the night out (project); States when it will take place and where, and what attendees will be doing until when and at what cost, by creating the (Project Plan) (PlansTheme). The Project Plan shows what needs to be done and produced to deliver the final ‘project product’ which will be the ‘Organised and Hosted Night Out’, which had a (Project Product Description) (Quality Theme and Plans Theme) written for it during the ‘Starting Up a Project’ Process.The Project Plan will be a simple high-level ‘checklist’ of the major products, activities, resources and timings, and include the product descriptions for the products to be developed by the project, as well as the Project Product Description for the overall project product (‘Organised and Hosted Night Out’).The ‘Organised and Hosted Night Out’ is composed of the following major products: ‘Venue’, ‘Attendees’, ‘Invite Email’, ‘Food Menu’, ‘Drinks Menu’,‘Event Schedule’ and a ‘Bar Games List’, each requiring a (Product Description) (Plans Theme) to be written for them.
These Product Descriptions will simply include each product’s purpose and their related (quality criteria) (Quality Theme) which they need to meet for the products to be considered as being fit for purpose. They set tolerances (Progress Theme) for some of the quality criteria). The product’s to be created will show the overall scope of the project and be included within the Project Plan (as mentioned above). They used MoSCoW prioritization technique (Plans Theme) to set scope tolerance (Progress Theme). For example, the Food Menu and Bar Games List were both a ‘MUST’ have, whereas the Drinks Menu was considered a ‘COULD’ have.
Checks the overall estimated planned cost from the (Project Plan) (Plans Theme) of the evening to see if it’s still cost effective. Checks there are sufficient (benefits) (Business Case Theme) to be gained and the night out has an overall acceptable level of (risk) (Risk Theme) associated with it.
Sets out how uncertainties (risks) will be identified and managed (Risk Management Approach) (Risk Theme), e.g. the risk of someone over indulging, or the risk of bad weather conditions affecting any outside bar games! Oh, and all other risks which are associated with lots of eating and drinking!! This will be a simple statement of the procedure to follow for such situations to be captured, assessed for probability and impact and managed prior to and during the night out! Zero tolerance was set against any risks (threats) to people’s welfare when playing certain pub games!
Sets out how any problems and changes (issues) to the night’s plans should be handled (Change Control Approach) (Change Theme), e.g. what to do if someone does become unwell and the night’s plans need to be altered! This will be a simple statement of the procedure to follow for such issues to be identified, captured, assessed for impact and managed prior to and during the night out!
A (Change Authority role) should be appointed to decide on any required changes to the evening’s agreed plans. The Project Board and Project Manager will share the (Change Authority role) (Change Theme and Organization Theme). Some extra money (change budget) (Change Theme and Plans Theme) could be set aside in case any extra, or different meals and drinks are requested in addition to what had been originally agreed, or additional taxis are needed to take people home!
Sets out how the expected level of quality of the venue, standard of food, drinks and fundraising bar games will be achieved. (Quality Management Approach) (Quality Theme). This will be a simple statement of the standards expected, e.g. venue, food and hygiene standards, and how they will be assessed.
Identifies who the night out will be of most interest to (key ‘user’ stakeholders), so that we can send them an invite. Decides what, how and when communication should happen with any other interested parties (Communication Management Approach) (Organization Theme), e.g. communicating with partners and other family members during the night out to let them know all’s going well! This will be a simple list showing who will communicate with who, how and when.
Defines the details of how and when a review of the (expected benefits) of holding the night out will be made (Benefits Management Approach) (Business Case Theme), so that we’ll know whether the night out really was successful and whether such a night out will be worth arranging again in the future, e.g. did we raise the amount of money for charity we were expecting to? This will be a simple table in a document showing the expected benefits and how, when and by whom they will be reviewed.
Sends all the details of the proposed night out and how it will be managed to the (Project Board) in the form of a (PID) (Project Initiation Documentation), AKA Pubs In Dorset! The Project Manager now waits for the formal ‘go-ahead’…or not! (ALL PRINCE2 Themes are relevant to the PID). The PID was a simple document, made up of just 4 double-sided pages!
Stage 3: 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.
Stage 4: 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.
Stage 5: Controlling a Stage
Manages each delivery stage of the project on a day-to-day basis. Ensures each stage is running smoothly and to the agreed plan. Takes action to resolve issues and manage risks to help keep the stage and overall project on track. Reports on stage progress to the Project Board at regular intervals. Escalates exception situations to the Project Board where tolerances are forecast to be exceeded
Involves (monitoring) (Progress Theme) against the agreed plan to check the actual rate of spend against the planned spend (in case we can’t get a taxi home due to spending too much on food and drink)! Frequent checks are made against the time to ensure we are forecast get home (when the project ends) at the original time planned and agreed. Corrective action is taken by the Project Manager, where necessary, to ensure the agreed time, cost and scope of the night out is kept to, within the agreed (tolerances) (Progress Theme).
Manages any (changes) (Change Theme) to what was planned for the night out, e.g. we didn’t plan to eat on the way home as well as at the pub, but now we do want to grab a bite to eat on the way home too! (increase in scope) (Change Theme). Any ‘actual’ drinking or eating induced problems (issues) (Change Theme) and ‘potential’ problems (risks) (Risk Theme) are identified and managed in order to help the night go as well as was intended. The issues and risks will be raised verbally, or by text message and be noted in the App (Daily Log) on the Project Manager’s phone.
Sends the Project Board regular updates via text messages (Highlight Report) (Progress Theme), on the evening’s events and informs them of any forecast deviations of agreed tolerances (Exception Report) (Progress Theme), e.g. the night is due to finish later than the agreed time tolerance! Any exception reporting will be handled verbally by phone and by text message if required.
So that people attending the night out don’t forget the fine details, the Project Manager could put little reminders to make any calls for taxis and any other notes/reminders in their mobile phone App, which would be their (Daily Log) (Progress Theme).
Checks that the (benefits expected) (Business Case Theme) are on target to be realized, e.g. the raising of money for charity from the bar games!
Stage 6: Managing Product Delivery
Where the planned work is undertaken to build the project’s products. Raises any issues and risks related to the work and reports on the work’s progress.
This is where the project’s products are created/obtained, such as the selection of venue, attendees, drinks menu, food menu and bar games, with frequent checks/reviews of whether the products being created are fit for purpose (quality control) (Quality Theme) , e.g. checking the food menu options will meet all dietary requirements and that the arranged bar games are going to be suitable for raising the money for charity. The work instructions (Work Package) (Progress Theme) to build the products was given verbally, along with copies of the (Product Descriptions) (Plans Theme and Quality Theme) for the products to be created. The checks and reviews undertaken on the products will be noted in the App (Daily Log) on the Project Manager’s phone.
Raises any problems (issues) (Change Theme) with the products being created, e.g. the food menu isn’t varied enough for different people’s tastes. And, potential problems (risks) (Risk Theme) that ‘might’ be encountered during the creation of the products, e.g. due to the nature of some bar games, people ‘might’ not wish to take part in them, which would lead to less funds being raised for charity! The issues and risks will be raised verbally, or by text message and be noted in the App (Daily Log) on the Project Manager’s phone.
Produces regular updates (Checkpoint Report) (Progress Theme) for the Project Manager on how things are going, e.g. every hour the bar games team give the Project Manager a quick ‘verbal’ update on what bar games have been designed. On the night, they can give a verbal update every 30 minutes on how well the games are raising funds for charity. These updates will be noted in the App (Daily Log) on the Project Manager’s phone.
Stage 7: Closing a Project
Gains acceptance for & hands over the project’s products. Ensures a controlled close to the project, evaluates the project’s performance and agrees any follow-on actions.
Looks to bring the night to a nice smooth ending, with hopefully no ongoing issues or risks!
Reports back to the Project Board on the performance of the night out using an (End Project Report) (Progress Theme) which also includes information on what went well and not so well, if you want to be open and honest! (Lessons Report) (Progress Theme). Establishes if there’s any unresolved (issues) (Change Theme) to be addressed and any potential problems (risks) (Risk Theme),perhaps due to consuming far too much food and drink, and ensures they are managed appropriately after the night out (the project) has ended, (passed on as Follow-on Action Recommendations as part of the End Project Report) (Progress Theme). This project performance information, lessons, follow-on action recommendations etc will all be summarised in an email and sent to all interested parties.
Ensures there’s benefits reviews agreed (Benefits Management Approach) (Business Case Theme) to check, over the next couple of days or so, whether the night was a beneficial success for everyone involved, from what they can remember of it! Can we see measurable improvements (benefits) (Business Case Theme) in the people who attended? e.g. people are measurably happier and more relaxed than they were before the night out, which can be measured by a pre and post night out survey, and that the evening managed to raise a minimum of £500 for charity. This will be a simple table in a document showing the expected benefits and when, how and by whom they will be reviewed.
Communicates to any interested people (stakeholders) (Organisation Theme) who need to know what implications, if any, the night has had on them, e.g. inform people about the money raised for charity. And perhaps let your employer know that you may not be in work the next day due to over indulgence! (I’m certainly not endorsing this one though)! This communicating will be done either verbally, by email, or text message, depending on the situation!
So, there we have it. Just a few examples of how PRINCE2 is very adaptable, showing that it can easily be tailored and applied to organising a simple pub crawl, sorry, what I mean to say is… “A Good Night Out”!
Examples of tailoring (shown in blue text) included verbal reporting and work instructions, sending progress updates by text message, combining of roles (for example, one person performed the roles of Project Manager, Project Support, Team Manager and was also part of the Change Authority) and the format and combining of management products (for example, the Daily Log was simply an App on a mobile phone and was also used to capture ‘Lessons’, ‘Issues’, ‘Risks’ and ‘Quality activities’, basically meaning the Daily Log, Lessons Log, Issue Register, Risk Register and Quality Register were all combined in one simple place)!
We’ve used simple checklists for our Plans, straightforward reasons, costs and benefits statements for the Business Case and all the management approaches were simple statements, for example, of the procedures to follow if anyone identifies any issues (the Change Control Approach) or risks (the Risk Management Approach).
But is this truly PRINCE2? PRINCE2 is principles-based. These principles MUST be supported/applied for a project to be deemed as a ‘genuine’ PRINCE2 project. The question is, does this tailored project example support PRINCE2’s principles? Let’s do a quick check:
Principle: Continued Business Justification
Example: We created and reviewed some form of business case to ensure there’s justification, as well as a way to review the realisation of the expected benefits.
Principle: Learn from experience
Example: Lessons were looked for at the outset, a lessons log used and lessons were passed on.
Principle: Defined roles and responsibilities
Example: All the roles and responsibilities were assigned and all 3 categories of stakeholder (business, user and supplier) were engaged with.
Principle: Manage by stages
Example: There was the minimum of 2 stages, which were planned, monitored and controlled, one at a time, and decisions were being made at stage boundaries.
Principle: Manage by exception
Example: Tolerances were set for the performance targets of time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risk.
Principle: Focus on products
Example: Product descriptions were written for each product which included the product’s quality criteria and included in the plans.
Principle: Tailor to suit the project
Example: This entire tailoring article shows how this principle was applied and supported! This principle clearly states that information doesn’t necessarily mean ‘documents’ and decisions doesn’t necessarily require ‘holding meetings’.
In addition to supporting the Principles shown above, all 7 Themes were applied, namely: ‘Business Case’, ‘Organization’, ‘Quality’, ‘Plans’, ‘Risk’, ‘Change’ and ‘Progress’, as shown throughout this article, and all of the managsment products required to support the ‘minimum requirements’ of each Theme were created and maintained, albeit very basic and simplified content to them; but if that’s sufficient for the needs and nature of your project, then that’s fine.
We’ve even applied, albeit simple, techniques/procedures for issue/change and risk management, as well as straightforward checks/reviews on the products for quality control purposes, as well as the MoSCoW prioritization technique for setting scope tolerance.
We applied a ‘product-based’ approach to planning by identifying the products to be produced by the project and creating Product Descriptions for each of them.
So, there we have it, I think this example supports PRINCE2’s requirements reasonably well and shows that PRINCE2 can indeed be tailored to suit even a small and simple project to organize and hold ‘A Good Night Out’, without any bureaucracy!
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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