The Role of the Project Board in PRINCE2 Projects

In the first part of this series of blogs about the roles in PRINCE2 projects, I introduced the concept of the seven roles for each individual responsibility within any PRINCE2 project. In the next few blog posts I’ll be exploring each of the seven roles in more depth. In this post, you’ll learn about the role of the project board, it’s responsibilities before, during, and at the end of a project, and the key competencies required by the project board.

What does the project board do?

The main role of the project board is to direct the project in line with the corporate project mandate. The project board is therefore ultimately responsible for a project’s success (or failure). The board’s responsibilities evolve through the lifetime of the project, but chief among them is to ensure communication channels between the project management team and external stakeholders (e.g. corporate management) are working as they should.

While the project board may delegate change decisions to the Change Authority and also delegate project assurance tasks to separate individuals, it still remains ultimately responsible.

The project board’s general responsibilities

As you can imagine, the project board is in a position of maximum responsibility. When considering the scope of these responsibilities, it is best to split the project into three phases: start-up, during, and completion.

Start-up responsibilities

The project board is responsible for:

  • Approval of the project brief
  • Approval of project tolerances
  • Deciding whether a Change Authority is required
  • Set priority scales for issues arising and change requests
  • Approve project initiation documentation and the stage plan
  • Approve the supplier contract
  • Authorise project initiation and start

During the project responsibilities

When the project gets under way and as it moves through its project stages, the project board is responsible for ensuring that the project remains viable and does not deviate outside agreed constraints. Specifically, it is responsible for:

  • Setting tolerances for each stage
  • Authorising each stage
  • Approving product descriptions
  • Communicating with stakeholders in line with the Communication Management Strategy
  • Ensuring that risks are monitored and managed effectively
  • Approve changes (unless approval has been delegated) and exceptions when tolerances are forecast to be broken
  • Approve stage completions

Throughout the project, the project board will respond to requests for advice or clarification from the project manager. Failure to do so could result in project overruns in both time and budget.

Completion responsibilities

At the end of the project, it is the project board’s responsibility to:

  • Assure that all products have been delivered satisfactorily
  • Confirm acceptance of the products by the customer
  • Approve the end-of-project report
  • Ensure that issues, risks and lessons are documented and passed to the appropriate body

In addition to the above, the project board will transfer responsibilities for the review of project benefits to corporate or programme management, and finally sign-off on closure.

Project board competencies

Clearly, the project board must hold a range of competencies in order to be able to conduct its responsibilities. These competencies cover not only its internal and individual abilities, but also its capability to do the job it is required to do.

It must have the authority to do its job and carry out its responsibilities, approve plans, and authorise changes and deviations from tolerances. It will need to be able to allocate adequate resources, as well as represent the interests of the business, the user, and the supplier. Hence the project board comprises these three components (customer, senior user, and senior supplier).

As far as abilities of the project board and its members are concerned, it must exhibit the competency to lead, delegate, make decisions, and negotiate where conflicts exist.

The importance of the project board to project success should never be underestimated. Finally, the scope of its responsibilities last from before the project starts, to its completion. The members of the project board should therefore be able to commit to membership for the course of the project.

In the next article in this series exploring the seven roles in PRINCE2, I’ll examine the individual roles on the project board, beginning with the customer (also known as the ‘executive’). Meanwhile, if you need advice or assistance with your project, please don’t hesitate to contact us: