Themes « About PRINCE2 « References

Why is it important?

Every project needs an effective direction, management, control and communication. These are essential elements for the success of a project. One of the PRINCE2 principles is thus that all projects must have defined roles and responsibilities.

The Organization theme concerns the tasks and responsibilities for the different roles within the project. PRINCE2 assumes a customer/supplier environment. A customer who specifies the desired result and probably also will pay, and a supplier who provides the resources and skills to produce this result.

Terms and definitions

A project is a temporary organization, that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products, according to a specified Business Case. A project can be run as a stand-alone entity or as a part of a programme of related projects. Such a project is possibly impacted by the structure and report requirements of the programme.

More information about programmes can be found in the publication Managing Successful Programmes (TSO, 2007) by AXELOS Limited.

An organization structure of a project must be flexible, where a broad base of skills will be required for a relatively short period of time. In order to be meet the needs of different environments and sizes of projects, PRINCE2 does not define functions or members, but roles.
A role describes a responsibility area within the project. The advantage of this is that roles can be combined or shared. For example in small projects several roles can be combined in one person, whereas in large and complex projects one role can be shared by several persons.

What is the PRINCE2 approach?

PRINCE2 clearly divides the management of the project and the execution of activities or tasks. The project management structure consists of 4 levels of management, within which the principle if management by exception is applied.
Corporate or programma management: authorising a project by the corporate or programme management.
Directing: the direction of the project by the Project Board.
Managing: the day-to-day management of the project by the Project Manager.
Delivering: the delivering of products by the Team Manager(s).
The bottom 3 levels of management make the project management team: Project Board, Project Manager and Team Manager(s).

Figure 5.3 Project management team structure

Project management team (structure)
The project management team structure is a temporary structure specifically designed to manage the project to a successful closure. The structure allows communication and decision-making, where all members of the PMT are appointed in a role using role descriptions. Role descriptions that specify the tasks, responsibilities, limits of authority and other relevant aspects.

During the Starting up a Project process, the project management team (PMT) is designed and appointed. At each stage boundary, in the Managing a Stage Boundary process, the PMT can be updated, although ideally the Project Board and Project Manager stay on the entire project.

Identifying stakeholders (internally and externally the project) and documenting the content and frequency of their information needs is a responsibility of the Project Manager. This Communication Management Strategy is prepared in the Initiating a Project process and, when necessary, updated during Managing a Stage Boundary.

Project Board
The Project Board is the directing body and accountable for the project. Senior management make up the Project Board to take the necessary decisions. They are authorized to decide independently within the limits set out by corporate or programme management. The members of the Project Board are decision makers, who have sufficient decision-making authority within the project and respresent the project to the outside.

The defined roles and responsibilities principle states that a PRINCE2 project must represent 3 interests: the BUS.
Business: the business interests (Executive).
User: the interests of users, operations and maintenance (Senior User).
Supplier: the interests of the suppliers, contractors and subcontractors (Senior Supplier).

More information about the tasks of the Project Board is published in Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 (TSO, 2009) of AXELOS Limited.

A good Project Board displays 4 characteristics:
Authority: their authority to take strategic project decisions and assign the required resources.
Credibility: their credibility within the corporate organization to direct the project.
Ability to delegate: their ability to delegate the day-to-day management and execution.
Availability: their availability to take decisions and direct the project.

The senior managers in the Project Board are often very busy. For this, directing a PRINCE2 project is based on the management by exception principle. The Project Board only meets when substantial decisions must be taken and delegates the day-to-day management to the Project Manager.

The Executive is ultimately accountable for the project's success. As the chairman of the Project Board, the Executive takes the key decisions. He/she keeps the budget, is sponsor and principal of the project and owner of the Business Case. Because of this the Executive has to ensure the project delivers ‘value for money’.

The Executive is appointed by corporate or programme management during the Starting up a Project process. He/she is then responsible for designing and appointing the other members of the project management team.

Senior User
The Senior User represents the interests of everyone who will use the project's products (including operations and maintenance): those for whom the products will achieve an objective or those who will use the products to deliver benefits. The requirements of the products and an unambiguous point of view on behalf of the different stakeholders is the responsibility of the Senior User. He/she must provide the resources which can define these requirements and which can review the products in meeting the requirements and expected benefits.

De Senior User specifies the expected benefits and demonstrates that those benefits have been realised. The actual measuring of the actual benefits possibly takes place some time after the project (benefits review).

Senior Supplier
The Senior Supplier represents the interests of the suppliers. He/she is accountable for the quality of products delivered by the suppliers and for an in time delivery. The requirements, defined under responsibility of the Senior User, will be checked for feasibility under responsibility of the Senior Supplier, to see if de products can be delivered within time and budget. He/she must timely and sufficiently provide the correct manpower, knowledge, resources and material to produce the products. Also the Senior Supplier ensures the application and compliance with standards to be used.

The Senior Supplier can be an internal or external supplier.
An external supplier has his own Business Case, which is monitored by the Senior Supplier.

Project Assurance
Members of the Project Board usually don't work full-time for the project, but they have the responsibility to check the work for its contents and to monitor the project (Project Assurance). They can each decide to delegate their part of supervision of the project to others. Project Assurance can include a number of persons, which independently of the Project Manager, assess aspects such as:
Feasibility of the Business Case.
Alignment with corporate strategy and standards.
Monitoring of risks.
Scope creep (the project deviates from the original goal and/or keeps growing).
Achieving quality standards.
If an acceptable solution is offered.
The appropriate allocation of skilled people.
Accuracy and completeness of the application of processes and themes of PRINCE2.

Each member of the Project Board has its own Project Assurance responsibilities and tasks (BUS). Project Assurance cannot be delegated to the Project Manager, because Project Assurance must remain independent of the Project Manager.

Change Authority
The Change Authority is an optional role. Some projects have many requests for change and/or off-specifications. It is the Project Board's responsibility to make decisions about this. This decision-making may be time-consuming and expect certain expertise. For these reasons, the Project Board can decide to delegate certain requests for change and/or off-specifications to a Change Authority, or even the Project Manager.
The Configuration Management Strategy, which is prepared during Initiating a Project, should indicate which ones are taken into consideration, and what the delegated authorities of the Change Authority and Project Manager are. The Project Manager and people with delegated Project Assurance roles can act as Change Authority.

Project Manager
The Project Manager is a mandatory role, which can only be fulfilled by one person. The Project Manager is appointed by corporate or programme management or the Executive in the Starting up a Project process.

The Project Manager is responsible for the delivery of products according to predefined quality requirements and within the agreed restrictions of (time and money). He/she is authorized to make decisions within tolerances for time and money, as defined by the Project Board (and in exceptional cases about quality and scope, subject to an agreement with the Project Board). The Project Manager takes care of the day-to-day management of the project and reports about the progress to the Project Board. The Project Manager normally comes from the customer organization, but a Project Manager from the supplier organization is also possible.

Team Manager
The Team Manager manages a team of employees or specialists. He/she is responsible for the production of products within the, with the Project Manager agreed, constraints of quality, time and cost. These agreements are written down in Work Packages.

Project Support
Project Support is a facility service for the Project Manager and the Team Manager(s). Besides administrative activities Project Support can play an important role during the planning, the monitoring of the progress and with configuration management.
If no separate persons are appointed to Project Support, the role is carried out by the Project Manager. There is also a possiblity to arrange for a Project Support function for multiple projects. This is called a project office.

More information about the use of a project office is published in Portfolio, Programme and Project Offices (TSO, 2009) of AXELOS Limited.

What are the responsibilities?

Corporate or programme management
Appoint the Executive and (possibly) the Project Manager.
Provide information to the project as defined in the Communication Management Strategy.
Appoint the Project Manager (if not done by corporate or programme management).
Confirm the structure of and the appointments in the project management team.
Senior User
Provide user resources.
Define and verify user requirements and expectations.
Senior Supplier
Provide supplier resources.
Project Manager
Review and update the Communication Management Strategy.
Design, review and update the structure of the project management team.
Prepare role descriptions.
Team Manager
Manage project team members.
Advice on project team members and involvement of stakeholders.
Project Assurance
Advice on the selection of project team members.
Advice on the involvement of stakeholders.
Ensure that an appropriate Communication Management Strategy is in place and that communication activities are carried out as planned.
Project Support
Provide administrative support for the project management team.

Used sources

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, 2009 edition