15 May 2011

How do you eat an Elephant?

Posted by Paul Atkin

How do you eat an Elephant?

Managing by Stages in PRINCE2

PRINCE2 Manage By Stages

No elephants were harmed during the taking of this picture....

Projects are unique, complex pieces of work so one of the 7 Principles of PRINCE2 is that a project should be planned, monitored and controlled one stage at a time. This allows for Management control without the need to be involved in the project on a day-to-day basis.

PRINCE2 breaks the Project up into a number of management stages. These stages provide a point where the Project Board can review the project and decide whether to continue and commit the resources required for the next stage.

You can probably see how Managing By Stages is also linked to the Principles of Continued Business Justification and Management By Exception.  Having the built in fire-breaks of stages provides a natural point for the Project Board to check and review progress and to re-evaluate the project against its Business Case

The minimum number of management stages in a PRINCE2 project is 2 – the initiation stage and least 1 delivery stage. The maximum?  It depends on the project – they’re all different – so it is up to the project management team to identify the points where you want to pause and decide whether the project is still on track.

PRINCE2 gives you several criteria to help you decide the length of stages and the location of the stage boundaries.  Some of which are:

1) The planning horizon – how far can you see and how sensible it is to plan ahead?   Stages should be manageable chunks of work.

2) How much control the Project Board want. Shorter stages mean more control but more of their time is required. Longer stages mean less control but less time needed.

3) The level of risk – The riskier the project the shorter the stages giving the Board more control.

The number of management stages will be documented in the Project Initiation Documentation (PID) as part of the Project Controls and will help the Project Manager create the Project Plan during the Initiating a Project process.

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