PRINCE2 Process: directing a project

The directing a project process enables the Project Board to delegate day-to-day responsibility the project to a Project Manager, while taking important decisions and exercising ultimate control over the project. This is because the Project Board is accountable for the success or failure of the project.

PRINCE2 describes five directing a project activities. These are chiefly to do with authorizing, advising, and specific instances of direction. For example, the Project Board might grant formal approval to a baseline document, authorize commitment of resources, or respond to an exception situation.

Authorize initiation

Once the Project Brief and the Initiation Stage Plan have been developed (as part of the starting up a project process), the authorization of the Project Board is required for the Project Manager to proceed to the Initiation Stage.

Authorize the project

The Project Board bases its decision over whether to continue with the project on an evaluation of the Project Initiation Documentation, taking into account the following key points:

  • the project’s overall viability;
  • whether the Project Plan will deliver the Business Case satisfactorily;
  • the strategies (e.g., risk management strategy) and controls (e.g. reporting requirements) are adequate and in place to facilitate the implementation of the Project Plan;
  • the existence of a Benefits Review Plan, which enables the measurement and evaluation of the project’s anticipated benefits.

Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan

Management stages are a key tool for the Project Board in exercising high-level control over a project. Authorization must be granted at every stage boundary, and the Project Board must evaluate project and stage progress to date, and review the next Stage Plan and the updated Project Plan and Business Case, in order to decide whether the project remains viable. If not, then the Project Board should not authorize the next stage.

Authorization is also important if a project requires an Exception Plan. This happens when a project or stage is forecast to exceed its tolerances. Following its review of the Exception Report, the Project Board may instruct the Project Manager to create an Exception Plan. This must then be approved, based on similar considerations to those involved in a stage boundary, and subsequently replaces the baseline plan.

Giving ad hoc direction

Situations in which the Project Board might offer ad hoc direction to the Project Manager include the following:

  • requests for advice (e.g., confirming available options for dealing with a project issue);
  • delivery of a report (e.g., an Exception Report, Highlight Report or Issue Report);
  • alteration of the project environment;
  • concerns raised by the Project Board itself, or one of its members;
  • corporate/programme management decisions;
  • identification of a risk.

Authorize project closure

When all of the work on a project has been completed and the project product delivered to the users, the Project Manager recommends that the Project Board authorizes closure of the project.

This is the final activity that the Project Board undertakes, and in order to do so, it must confirm whether the project has achieved its objectives, and that the project has no further contribution to make. Once project closure has been authorized, the Project Board notifies corporate/programme management.

It is important to note that the project does not need to have achieved its objectives in order for the Project Board to authorize closure. If the project becomes unviable, then the Project Board may decide upon its premature closure.