PRINCE2 – The process of starting a project

people lined up at the start of a race

The first of the seven processes within PRINCE2 is starting a project. This takes place before the project is initiated, and is designed to give the project’s key stakeholders confidence in the project and its benefits. The starting of a project (SU) is triggered by the project mandate, a document created by (or on behalf of) the commissioning organisation. This document details the reasons and objectives for the project. It may also (but doesn’t have to) outline estimates of cost and time.

SU is conducted only once, and is used to gain authorisation for the project to be initiated.

The six activities of starting up a project

1.      Appointment of the executive and project manager

The first step in the SU process is to appoint the executive and the project manager. The executive is responsible for ensuring continued business justification, and representing the interests of the customer. The executive delegates day-to-day management responsibilities to the project manager.

2.      Capturing previous lessons

A Lessons Log must be created, kept up to date throughout the project, and used to inform stakeholders, team leaders and their teams, and populated with lessons that can be applied on this project from previous projects.

3.      Appointing the project management team

The project manager’s responsibility begins with designing a project management team, defining roles and qualities needed. However, the selection of individuals for each role is the responsibility of the executive (though is often wholly or partly designated to the project manager).

4.      Preparing the business case

The executive should create an outline business case explaining the reasons for the project. Subsequent to this, a project product description is written. This details the customer’s expectations for project delivery, and the measurable acceptance criteria of the project product.

5.      Assembling the project brief

The project manager is responsible for creating the approach to the project (with input from the senior user) and assembling the project brief. Respectively, these documents say how the project will be carried out, and the purpose, constraints, and requirements relevant to the project. This includes the outline business case (provided by the executive) and the product description (created by the senior user and project manager).

6.      Planning of the initiation stage

The project manager must develop an initiation stage plan. This is given to the project board with the project brief for authorisation to proceed.

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