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The Project Management Lifecycle. The Project Management Lifecycle is triggered by an idea or a need.
From the initial idea a pre-project process investigates whether there is evidence of a worthwhile project. 1.2. If the project aligns with the company business, the project commences
by producing a project plan and a baseline document. The plan indicates to management the resources required to see the project through, the costs associated with the project and the benefits the projects result would bring to the business. Once the project plan has been agreed, resources are assigned as
outlined by the plan and authorized by the Project Board. On-going build and quality reviews of the projects products allow
inclusion of any identified low-impact improvements to the products, or any modifications that may bring cost or performance benefits to the company or products. Exception plans are triggered if and when the project’s programme or costs fall outside of the time or cost tolerance agreed by the Project Board at the commencement of the project. Once the project has delivered the products or deliverables, the 'Close-
out' process ensures that all of the project’s documentation has been correctly filed and all outstanding issues resolved.
‘Day-to-day Management’ of the project rests with the project manager
supported by specialist, quality and filing staff. ‘Direction’ rests with the Project Board.
The Process Model The eight major processes generate all necessary information for
effective management of any project.
"Starting Up a Project" is a pre-project process, which answers
the key question "do we have a viable and worthwhile project?" If the answer is "yes" the project is formally started and moves onto the "Initiating A Project" process. The "Initiating A Project" process marks the formal start to the
project and is used to generate a baseline document, known as the Project Initiation Document. "Directing A Project" is a key decision-making process. It is used
to authorise expenditure and commit resources. This process is owned by the Project Board who have overall responsibility for the success of the project. "Controlling A Stage" is the process within which the project
manager runs the project on a day-to-day basis. “Managing Product Delivery” process is where products are
created or modified and where most of the time, cost and money for the project is spent. This is closely linked to the CS process.
As a management stage nears completion, the plans for the next
stage must be created and a report on the previous stage prepared. This is the objective of the "Managing Stage Boundaries" process. As the project approaches its conclusion, the "Closing A Project"
process comes into play. This process ensures that everything needed to close the project formally, is present. "Planning" is a process used by all the other processes in one way
or another. The project is triggered by the receipt of a Project Mandate. This may
come from any source, be in any format and may contain a minimum of information; although PRINCE suggests that the Project Mandate should at the very least describe the subject matter of the proposed project and identify the key decision maker - the Project Board Executive. 2.3. "Starting Up A Project" is a pre-project process. It takes the Project
Mandate and expands it into the Project Brief, which contains the information to answer the question "do we have a viable and worthwhile project?" It is at this point that an initial risk analysis will be carried out and the Risk Log created. If the project is approved, the Project Brief will be expanded into the
Project Initiation Document ( or ‘pid’) during the Initiation Stage. Other products are also created to help the Project Board decide whether they wish to go ahead with the project.
The organisation structure, names, roles and responsibilities that will be
needed for the proposed project all need to be thought through and documented. Decisions on partnerships with other Organisations, third party
involvement or recruitment of specialist staff need to be taken so that the Project Board can have a clear view of the recommended development path and make their contribution to planning the way ahead. If the Project Board decide to proceed, a plan for the first stage of the
work, the Initiation Stage, will be needed to allow them to commit the resources needed to carry out the work. This is the Initiation Stage Plan. 2.8. All the outputs from the "Starting Up A Project" process will be made
available to the Project Board in the process "Directing A Project". This will usually be a formal meeting for a major project but might be informal for a small, low-risk project. The authorisation to proceed forms part of the sub-process "Authorising
Initiation" and should always be formally recorded, as the authorisation to proceed represents the formal start of the project. 2.10. An early activity during "Initiating A Project" is to set up the documentation and filing structure. PRINCE recommends establishing a project file, a quality file, a specialist file and a separate file for each of the management stages. 2.11. As the end of the Initiation Stage approaches, there will be a need to prepare a report on current performance and to create a plan for the next stage.
This work is triggered towards the end of the Initiation Stage - typically about two or three weeks before the Project Board meet at the End Stage Assessment. 2.12. Preparation of the End Stage Report, which provides all the information the Project Board will need for their End Stage Assessment, is carried out in the "Managing Stage Boundaries" process. The Project Board, at the End Stage Assessment, will decide on whether
the project should move on to the next stage and, if so, commit the resources needed to perform the work.
The main output of the "Initiating A Project" process is the Project
Initiation Document. This important management product lays down a firm foundation for the project and provides a baseline, against which to measure progress throughout the life of the project. The Project Initiation Document will be reviewed at the same End Stage
Assessment that the next stage plans are considered. The end result will be a stable and confident start to the technical elements of the project.
Agreement that the project should continue into the next stage will
authorise the project manager to start work and start spending. This will trigger "Controlling A Stage" which is the project manager's day-to-day control process. 2.17. When the Project Initiation Document is approved, the originator of the Project Mandate - described by PRINCE as "Corporate or Programme
Management" - is informed that the project is under way. This is normally done by forwarding a copy of the Project Initiation Document. Approval of the stage plan by the Project Board enables the project
manager to finalise, authorise and release work packages, which contain all the information needed to purchase, create or modify specialist products. 2.19. Most of the work necessary to produce the work packages will have already been done in the "Managing Stage Boundaries" process when the stage plan was being prepared. Some finishing touches will often be needed and the project manager will usually wish to discuss detailed aspects of the products with the supplier and confirm that there is a full understanding and acceptance of what is required before the work starts. 2.20. Specialist products are created in the "Managing Product Delivery" process, usually by specialist, external suppliers. Some specialist products will be the responsibility of internal suppliers of services. 2.21. Most mainstream projects will reflect a mix of internal and external specialist suppliers, with a prime contractor made responsible for overall coordination. 2.22. Work on creating the specialist products is carried out in the "Managing Product Delivery" process. A team plan will usually be drawn up in the subprocess "Accepting A Work Package" and most of the time, cost and effort spent in the sub-process "Executing A Work Package" where each specialist product is created or modified.
Quality review of specialist products is an essential part of their creation
and this is carried out in "Executing A Work Package". 2.24. When the specialist product is complete, it will be delivered back into the customer organisation according to whatever arrangements have been agreed in the work package. 2.25. When work packages are issued and when completed work packages are delivered, the stage plans are up-dated to reflect "actuals" to date. 2.26. Checkpoint reports are used to report on the status of work being carried out on specialist products. The report will be measured against the team plan and the corresponding stage plan. Frequency and format will be as agreed in the work package. There is no need for a formal checkpoint meeting. If an informal "get-
together" is preferred and reflects the organisation's culture, then this is perfectly all right. When the checkpoint report is received in the customer's organisation,
the stage plans are up-dated to reflect actuals and impact on the rest of the stage. 2.29. Highlight reports are used to keep the Project Board informed of the progress being made against the approved stage plan. 2.30. The Project Board do not need detailed information about everything that has occurred so far during the stage but do need to be kept up to date with significant events. The highlight report is typically just one A4 sheet or its
equivalent and is prepared by the project management at the frequency and in the format required by the Project Board. This is usually monthly. 2.31. Correct use of the highlight report enables the Project Board to ‘manage-by-exception’ and only get involved when it is appropriate for them to do so. 2.32. As the project proceeds, information and direction will probably be received from corporate management and other external sources. Sometimes this information will be commercially sensitive and will need to be conveyed to the project manager in a discrete way. 2.33. The project manager will also, from time to time, need to seek informal advice and direction from Project Board members. Requests will span a wide range of topics and will not normally need a formal meeting 2.34. Responses to highlight reports, information received from external sources and requests for informal advice will be passed to the project manager from the "Directing A Project" process into "Controlling A Stage" for the appropriate action to be taken. 2.35. A sub-process of "Controlling A Stage" deals with taking corrective action. At any time during the project, someone might have an idea for
improving the project's outcome, or the customer might wish to change the specification. On the other hand, an error or fault might be discovered in a completed product. Or there may be a disagreement over the content or presentation of a product during its quality review. All these are project
issues and there must be a means of recording, analysing and deciding on appropriate action. 2.37. Project issues may be raised by anyone associated with the project and they are recorded on an Issues Log usually as a request for change (typically from the customer) or an off-specification, more usually from the supplier. Project issues may be actioned if they are within the Tolerance for the
stage or they may be deferred for the Project Board to review and prioritise, at regular intervals, and at the end of each stage. 2.39. If a project issue needs to be actioned and doing so would take the stage plan out of tolerance, then this must be communicated to the Project Board by means of an Exception Report. An exception report provides information to the Project Board on what
has happened and the reasons; what the impact on the stage and project is; what options are available for recovery; and the action recommended by the project manager. The Project Manager may request advice and guidance from individual
Project Board members. The Project Manager may well feed this back to the Project Board in a Highlight Report. In response to the Highlight Report or the Request for Advice, the
Project Board may provide Ad-hoc Direction to the Project Manager. This may necessitate the project manager making corrective adjustments, within the agreed Tolerance, to the work being carried out.
2.43. Standard stage tolerance is expressed in terms of time and cost. There are other types of tolerance, which may be used. These are scope, quality, risk and business benefits. The Project Board do not normally meet to discuss the Exception Report
but may do so if they wish. They might choose to give direction to the project manager to take no immediate further action and see how things develop. But this is not likely to resolve the situation. 2.45. If the Project Board is uncomfortable with either of the above actions, they may decide to bring the project to an early close. 2.46. If the Project Board decide that the exception invalidates the overall need for the project's outcome, they will order a premature close to the project. This will trigger the "Closing A Project" process and the project manager will prepare the necessary documentation to shut the project down. 2.47. Authorising the closure of the project will take place in the "Directing A Project" process, using the information and reports prepared in "Closing A Project" 2.48. Provided the Project Board consider the project remains viable following the Exception Report, they will usually ask the project manager to prepare an Exception Plan. This request will trigger the "Managing Stage Boundaries" process and an Exception Plan will be produced for consideration by the Project Board at an Exception Assessment. The Exception Plan picks up from where the problem occurred to the
end of the stage. It will normally require additional resources of time, money
and effort, or a change to the scope of the stage products or event the whole project. It is likely that the Exception Plan will reflect a combination of all these elements. 2.50. Once approved by the Project Board, the Exception Plan replaces the previously approved stage plan and provides the authority for the project manager to issue authorised work packages under the revised arrangements. 2.51. As a stage nears its end, the "Managing Stage Boundaries" process will be triggered for the next stage plans to be prepared and a report on the results of the previous stage prepared. Typically this will be two to three weeks before the Project Board's End Stage Assessment meeting. The End Stage Report will contain all the information needed for the
End Stage Assessment and should be available for the Project Board to study before the meeting. 2.53. The End Stage Assessment is a key Project Board decision-making control and not a discussion forum. All the preparation work, including checking that required resources are available, should be completed before the End Stage Report is issued. 2.54. Approval of the End Stage Report and the next stage plans will enable the project manager to issue authorised work packages and continue the progress of the project. 2.55. As final stage nears completion and the project approaches its natural conclusion, the "Closing A Project" process is triggered - typically two to three weeks before the Project Board's closure meeting.
2.56. This process tidies up the project documentation in preparation for formal closure. Authorising project closure will come from the Project Board in the "Directing A Project" process. 2.57. A key activity when preparing for project closure is to archive the project files. This important task enables future audits of the project should this be necessary. 2.58. A number of important management products are prepared for the Project Board in this process. 2.59. The customer will be asked to sign off the project's outcome. The basis for this will be the acceptance criteria recorded in the project brief and the project initiation document. The Project Board's senior user will normally be asked to complete this acceptance. 2.60. The senior supplier and senior user will be asked to sign off the project's outcome in respect of its operational capability and ability to be maintained over a period of time. An ‘end project report’ will be prepared by the project manager. This
will highlight how well the project was planned and controlled and make recommendations for the management of future projects. Closely associated with this is the ‘lessons learned’ report, which will identify specific beneficial aspects to the project. The lessons learned log would have been established early on in the life of the project, during the "Initiating A Project" process and its contents up-dated at the end of every stage in "Managing Stage Boundaries".
2.62. Any outstanding project issues will be considered for treatment as follow-on items. These represent future work to improve or enhance the project's outcome. 2.63. The business benefits, identified at the outset of the project, and reviewed throughout its life, must be measured after a period of using the outcome. A plan to measure this - the post-project review plan - will be prepared in this process and approved by the Project Board Executive at the closure meeting. The Project Board will review the management products prepared in the
"Closing A Project" process and, if all is in order, authorise formal closure of the project. This decision will be notified to Corporate or Programme Management to confirm that work on the has now stopped and that resources will soon be returned The "Planning" process is used by all the other processes in one way or
another. This process may be viewed as a backdrop to the other seven processes, providing a consistent and repeatable approach to all planning activities. The PRINCE product-based planning technique is unique to the method
and offers an excellent approach to planning which saves time, cost and effort. Product-based planning is suitable for all types of plans within the project management environment.
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