PRINCE2 Process: Starting up a project

The first PRINCE2 process is starting up a project, which takes place prior to the project, is designed to assure the key stakeholders that it will be a reasonable and rewarding undertaking. The trigger for starting up a project is the project mandate, a document provided by the commissioning organization (often corporate/programme management) to explain the reasons and objectives for the project, as well as, in some cases, high-level estimations of time and cost.

The starting up a project process is carried out once on each project, and is oriented towards gaining the authorization necessary for initiating the project. This authorization constitutes the trigger for initiating a project, which is the second PRINCE2 process.

There are six activities involved in starting up a project:

Appoint the Executive and the Project Manager

The very first project activity is the appointment of both an Executive, who will be responsible for continued business justification on the project and for representing the interests of the business stakeholder on the Project Board, and a Project Manager, to whom the Executive delegates day-to-day management of the project.

Capture previous lessons

A Lessons Log contains lessons learned on this and other projects. It is crucial to produce a pertinent Lessons Log, and to keep it up to date throughout the project, in order to facilitate the success of the project. During starting up a project it is populated with lessons we can apply on this project from previous projects.

Design and appoint the project management team

In order to ensure that every necessary role on the project management team is appropriately filled, and that everybody knows who is responsible for each role, it is important to design role descriptions for the project management team. This is chiefly the responsibility of the Project Manager, while the selection of individuals to fulfil each role is carried out by the Executive.

Prepare the outline Business Case

The Executive is responsible for creating an outline Business Case, which contains the explanation for why the project is necessary or useful. The sources used when creating this are the project mandate and the Lessons Log. After developing the outline Business Case, a Project Product Description is written which documents the customers quality expectations about what should be delivered from the project i.e. what products must be delivered. Where possible, acceptance criteria are documented i.e. the measureable characteristics of the project (end) product which would make it acceptable to the customer.

Select the project approach and assemble the project brief

It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to create the project approach and the Project Brief, and to submit these to the Project Board for approval. The project approach articulates how the project will be carried out (e.g., whether products will be built from scratch or bought off the shelf, etc.). The Project Brief details the purpose, constraints, and requirements relevant to the project, and includes the outline Business Case (provided by the Executive), the Project Product Description (created by the Project Manager, with input from the Senior User), and the project approach (with input from the Senior Supplier).

Plan the initiation stage

Before the project can be initiated, the Project Manager must develop an Initiation Stage Plan, to be sent, together with the Project Brief, to the Project Board. Once these management products have received authorization from the Project Board, the initiating a project process can begin.