PRINCE2 – The process of directing a project

illustration of director chair

The process of directing a project in a PRINCE2 project is continuous throughout the project lifetime. This sets out the way in which the project board delegates day-to-day responsibilities to the project manager while maintaining control over the project. In this way, the ultimate success or failure of the project remains the responsibility of the project board and controls initiation, stage boundaries, ad hoc direction and guidance, and project closure.

Authorising, advising, and directing

There are five activities in the process of directing a project, all describing the authorising, advising, and directing during a PRINCE2 project.

1. Authorising initiation

During the process of starting a project, the initiation stage plan will have been developed and presented. The project board authorises the project manager to continue to the initiation stage based upon this plan.

2. Authorising the project

The project manager provides the project board with the project initiation documentation, and this allows the board to authorise the project. In making its decision, the project board will consider:

  • Project viability
  • If the project plan delivers the business case
  • The strategies and controls used, and if they are adequate to enable implementation of the project plan
  • The review plan and process that monitors and measures the project’s expected benefits

3. Authorising stages and exception plans

The project board must authorise each stage, evaluating progress and reviewing stage plans, the updated project plan and business case to ensure the project remains viable.

The project board must also authorise exception plans, if a stage (or the project) is forecast to exceed tolerances. Should the project manager be requested to create an exception plan following the project board’s review of the exception report, it will need to be approved by the project board and will then replace the baseline plan.

4. Providing ad hoc direction

There are many circumstances in which the project board might provide ad hoc direction to the project manager. These include:

  • When the project manager requests advice
  • Upon the presentation/delivery of an end-of-stage report, exception report, issue report, etc.
  • Corporate management decisions
  • Specific risks
  • When the project environment is altered

5. Authorising project closure

At the end of the project, the project manager will recommend that the project board authorises closure. This is the last activity that the project board undertakes. For the project to be closed, it must have achieved its objectives or have no further contribution to make towards those objectives (for example, it is no longer deemed viable). Once closure is authorised, the project board should notify programme management.

In my next blog post, I’ll examine the process of controlling stages in a PRINCE2 project. In the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions or queries you may have: