PRINCE2 Process: managing a stage boundary

In order to create regular control points for the Project Board, a PRINCE2 project must be divided into management stages, at the boundaries of which the Project Board reviews project progress and decides whether or not to commit further resources to the project.

The purpose of the managing a stage boundary process is for the Project Manager to prepare for the next management stage, by providing the Project Board with relevant and accurate information for making a decision about the project’s continued viability. This includes creating a Stage Plan (or an Exception Plan), and updating the Project Initiation Documentation.

The managing a stage boundary process involves six activities, which the Project Manager must perform once during each stage. As noted above, these activities are also carried out when the project goes into exception and an Exception Plan is required.

Plan the next stage

In order to prepare a next Stage Plan with the appropriate level of detail, the Project Manager must discuss any alterations to the project approach or acceptance criteria, and review the Project Initiation Documentation (created during the initiation stage).

Update the Project Plan

In addition to the creation of a Stage Plan or Exception Plan, the Project Plan must also be kept up to date, through inclusion of the actual results of the existing stage and new forecasts for time and cost for the remainder of the project.

Update the Business Case

It is essential that the Business Case represent the current anticipated duration and cost of the project, so that the Project Board is able to make a sound decision regarding the project’s viability.

As part of this activity, the Project Manager also consults the Risk Register, to check whether the project’s aggregated risk exposure is acceptable, according to the pre-determined risk tolerance level. If necessary, then the Risk Register and Issue Register should also be updated.

Finally, the Project Manager also assesses the project benefits, by reviewing any benefits reviews carried out during the stage.

Report Stage End

In order to obtain authorization to begin the next Stage Plan, the Project Manager needs to create a comprehensive End Stage Report. This document describes the following:

  • The performance of the stage that is just finishing;
  • The general progress of the project to date;
  • The project’s current risk situation and any project issues;
  • Current project forecasts;
  • Alterations to the Business Case;
  • If applicable, the results of any benefit reviews.

Produce an Exception Plan

If the managing a stage boundary process is performed in response to an exception, then the Project Manager will be responsible for writing an Exception Plan (rather than a Stage Plan). The Exception Plan is composed in the same way as the Stage Plan, and covers the period from the exception to the end of the stage that it replaces. An Exception Plan must be approved by the Project Board before it can be implemented.