PRINCE2 – The process of managing stage boundaries

two vector art people holding hands over safety cones

In my previous post in this series discussing the seven processes of PRINCE2, I described the responsibilities of the team manager and the tasks they must do in the process of managing product delivery. In this article, we turn back to discuss the further responsibilities of the project manager to enable stage boundaries to be managed effectively.

Why is it necessary to manage stage boundaries?

A PRINCE2 project is divided into management stages – an integral piece of PRINCE2’s progress theme. At the end of each management stage, the project board will review progress and decide whether to continue with the project or close.

If the project board is not supplied with the relevant information, or with information is inaccurate, it will be unable to make that decision. The responsibility of providing this information falls on the project manager.

Activities of managing stage boundaries

The following activities are those that the project manager must undertake at the end of a management stage, in order for the project board to make a fully informed decision.

·         Planning the next stage

There must be discussion about the approach and acceptance criteria. During the initiation stage, planning will include a review of the Project Initiation Documentation.

·         Updating the project plan

Each stage plan will be updated, but so, too, must the project plan. This must take into account results of the existing management stage, as well as updates to forecasts for time and cost, which will affect the rest of the project.

·         Updating the business plan

To make its decision regarding continued project viability, the project’s Business Case must account for the updated forecast of duration and cost.

The project manager will refer to the Risk Register, and assess the current risks against the project’s pre-determined and updated risk tolerances. The Risk Register and Issue Register must also be updated if needed. This process should also include an assessment of the project’s benefits, reviewing any reviews conducted during the management stage.

·         Reporting the end of the management stage

The project manager can only progress to the next stage if authorisation has been given by the project board. To inform this decision, the project manager must furnish the project board with the following information:

  • The performance of the stage that is ending
  • The progress of the project thus far
  • The project’s current risks and issues
  • Updated project forecasts
  • Updates to the Business Case
  • Results of benefits reviews carried out

Produce an exception plan

It may be that the management stage is curtailed because of an exception. In such a case, the project manager will be expected to present an exception plan and not a stage plan (see my article ‘The plans theme in PRINCE2’).

An exception plan is compiled in the same manner as a stage plan, but covers the period from the exception to the end of the stage. Before continuing, the exception plan must be approved by the project board.

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

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