Themes « About PRINCE2 « References

Why is it important?

Without planning there is no chance to forecast the final result of projects in terms of scope, quality, risk, time and cost. Poor planned projects cause lots of frustration, waste and rework.

The purpose the Plans theme is to facilitate communication and control by determining the resources required to deliver products (the where and how, the by whom and the estimation of when and how much).

Terms and definitions

Planning provides all involved parties in a project information on:
What is required
How and by whom this will be achieved, together with the specialist resources required
When evens will happen
The feasibility of objectives (time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefits)

A PRINCE2 plan is more than just a timescale. It is a document in which is described how, when and by whom a specific result will be achieved. This result includes the products of the project, time, costs, quality and benefits.
Plans form the basis of the management information system of each project and must be kept in line with the Business Case at all times. A plan also requires the approval and involvement of the relevant management levels of the project management team.

Planning is the process to create and maintain a plan.
This term is also used to describe the procedures of this process (e.g. preparing documents and diagrams).
Regardless the type or size of a project, it is essential to plan. Planning is not an trivial exercise, it is vital for the project's success.

Levels of plan
PRINCE2 recommends 3 levels of plan to meet the needs of the different levels of management involved in a project.
Each of these plans has the same outline.

Figure 7.1 PRINCE2 planning levels

Project Plan
The Project Manager creates the Project Plan in the Initiating a Project process.
The Project Plan describes how and when results will be achieved, by showing the major products, activities and resources required for the project.
By dividing the Project Plan in stages, the Project Board is able to monitor and control the project progress. The Project Plan contains information about the realizations and expectations. These are actualized at each stage boundary and adjusted when necessary. The expected and actual cost provide input for the Business Case.
When the Project Board authorizes the Project Plan, it is used as baseline against which to monitor and report the project's progress.

Stage Plan
A Stage Plan is a detailed plan which enables the Project Manager to manage the day-to-day progress of the project.
Creating a Stage Plan is required for each stage of the project. This is created at the end of each (previous) stage. The Project Board must make a decision concerning the investment for the next stage and must provide the necessary resources for this stage.

A PRINCE2 project has minimum 2 stages: the initiation stage and one (or more) delivery stage(s).
The Initiation Stage Plan is created in the Starting up a Project process, while each Stage Plan is created in the process Managing a Stage Boundary. Both are prepared by the Project Manager and approved by the Project Board.

Team Plan
Team Plans are created and completed by the Team Manager in the Managing Product Delivery process.
A Team Plan contains detailed information to realize one or more Work Packages.

The size, complexity and the required resources determine the need and the number of Team Plans.
It is strongly recommended to create a Team Plan when work is farmed out to an external contractor. In some contexts however, it could occur that a supplier doesn't want to put its activities at the Project Manager's disposal or that a team of suppliers uses another project management method.
Therefore the use of Team Plans is not mandatory in PRINCE2 and there is no formal template available.
A Stage Plan is divided in Team Plans, what may need Team Managers to provide input by creating their Team Plans in parallel with the creation of the Stage Plan.

Exception Plan
When it is expected that an approved Project Plan and/or Stage Plan will not be completed within the agreed tolerances, an escalation is needed to the next management level. This next management level requests the creation of an Exception Plan, which will replace the Project Plan and/or Stage Plan. An Exception Plan has the same level of detail as the plan it will replace and takes over from the actual situation to the end of the plan.

When a Stage Plan needs to be replaced, the Project Board must authorize this.
A replacement of the Project Plan requires approval of the corporate or programme management.
When a Team Plan (Work Package) threatens to exceed tolerances, no Exception Plan needs to be made. In that case the Team Manager will notify the Project Manager by raising an issue. If this issue can be solved within stage tolerances, the Project Manager will take corrective actions and adjust the Work Package.

What is the PRINCE2 approach?

The success of a project depends on the products it delivers. These products are thus crucial during a PRINCE2 planning.
The figure below shows the steps for creating a PRINCE2 plan.

Figure 7.2 The PRINCE2 approach to plans

The planning process is an iterative process. There will be a series of loops through the planning steps as extra information becomes available or adjustments are made.

Design the plan
Starting point for the creation of a plan is to determine how the plan must be presented. Items for discussion are:
Presentation and layout: how should we present the plan the best?
Planning tools: are we using any planning tools?
Estimation methods: are there assumptions, standards, statistics to be used?
Levels of plan: what will be the depth of our plans?
Monitoring methods: how will we measure progress?
When a project is part of a programme, it is possible the programme already has developed a common approach for planning.

Define and analyse the products
An important PRINCE2 principle is to identify products first and only then are the activities, dependencies and resources identified. This technique is known as product-based planning, consists of 4 steps and is applied on all plans.

Figure 7.3 Product-based planning technique

Step 1: Write the Project Product Description
The Senior User is responsible to describe the project product. In practice the Project Product Description will possibly be written by the Project Manager in consultation with the Senior User and Executive.
Step 2: Create the product breakdown structure (PBS)
The plan is broken down in major products, which are then further broken until an appropriate level of detail for the plan is reached. Such a hierarchical structure of products to be delivered is called a product breakdown structure.
Products are presented in different shapes to improve the legibility. A rectangle can be used to present a regular product, while an ellipse or circle can be used to distinguish a product that is out of scope of the plan (external products). Furthermore a colour can be used to show the stage or the team which will deliver the product.
Step 3: Write the Product Descriptions
A product is described in a Product Description as soon as the product is identified.
At first this needs to be no more than an identification and name. Further refinement takes place as the requirements of the product become better understood. A Product Description is approved together with the approval of the plan in which the product concerned will be delivered. When a Product Description needs approval, all details of the product must be specified. If, later on, a product needs to be changed, the Product Description must pas through the issue and change control procedure.
Step 4: Create the product flow diagram (PFD)
A product flow diagram shows the sequence of development of the products of a plan and any dependencies between them. Products, out of scope of the plan, are also presented.
Products in a product flow diagram are presented as rectangles, ellipses or circles and the sequence by means of arrows.
The creation of a product flow diagram may reveal new products that are required. These products should also be added to the product breakdown structure and Product Descriptions should be written for them.

Identify activities and dependencies

Prepare estimates

Prepare the schedule

Document the plan

Analyse the risks

What are the responsibilities?

Used sources

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, 2009 edition