PRINCE2 Process: controlling a stage

Within a PRINCE2 project, as we have seen, the Project Board retains responsibility for the overall success of the project, but delegates the day to day management to the Project Manager. The controlling a stage process describes the activities of the Project Manager within each management stage of a project (following the initiation stage), including authorizing project work, reviewing stage progress, and submitting the appropriate reports to the Project Board.

There are eight activities in the controlling a stage process:

Authorize a Work Package

The Project Manager and the Team Manager must come to an agreement on the work that will be performed by the team. This is presented as a Work Package, which will detail the following information:

  • what must be produced;
  • how much it will cost;
  • how long it will take;
  • the tolerances for its targets of cost and time etc.;
  • when reports must be submitted;
  • configuration management requirements;
  • who will approve the finished products.

Review Work Package status

While the team is carrying out the work needed to complete the Work Package, the Team Manager should submit Checkpoint Reports to the Project Manager at regular intervals, determined in the Work Package. The Project Manager reviews these reports in order to update the Stage Plan with information about work completed and adjustment to forecasts for the work remaining in the current stage.

Review completed Work Package

Once the team has fulfilled all of the requirements in the Work Package and products have been approved, the Project Manager updates the Stage Plan to indicate that the Work Package has been completed.

Review stage status

The Project Manager must regularly review the status of the stage in order to ensure control over the progress being made. Mechanisms for enabling this control include reviewing management products such as Checkpoint Reports (submitted by Team Managers), the current Stage Plan, the various registers and logs (i.e. the Quality Register, Issue Register, Risk Register and the Daily Log), the Product Status Account, and the Benefits Review Plan.

Report highlights

In addition to monitoring the stage themselves, Project Managers should keep the Project Board appropriately informed. This entails creating the time-driven Highlight Report, which presents the current achievements and actual progress of the project, and also describes any corrective actions that the Project Manager may be intended to carry out, as well as forecasts for the remainder of the stage and the project.

Capture and examine issues and risks

The Project Manager must make sure that the various logs and registers employed on a project are kept up to date, in order to provide the framework for referring issues and risks to the appropriate authority and making decisions about the most desirable response. This activity includes two procedures that the Project Manager must also perform: the risk management procedure, and the issue and change control procedure.

Escalate issues and risks

In some cases the Project Manager will have the authority to handle a risk or issue, but in other cases it is necessary to refer the situation to the Project Board. This happens when an issue or risk threatens to (or actually does) exceed tolerance levels. This is also known as an exception, and triggers an Exception Report, which is written by the Project Manager and submitted to the Project Board.

Take corrective action

In the cases when an issue or risk is not anticipated to exceed tolerance levels, the Project Manager does not submit an Exception Report. However, it may still be necessary to take corrective action.

The trigger for this activity is ‘Review Stage Status’, and the consequence of this activity is ‘Authorize a Work Package’. Thus, the various activities of the controlling a stage process feed into one another in iterative cycles until the stage is complete.