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PRINCE2 management products

by PRINCE2 Online
Discover how PRINCE2 management products streamline your project's path to success.
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PRINCE2 management products | prince2-online.co.uk

The role of management products in PRINCE2

PRINCE2 management products are indispensable in steering project teams through the challenges of planning, managing, and delivering successful projects. These varied tools, which include documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and even visual displays, are highly adaptable to meet diverse project demands. Their versatility is key, ensuring they can be effectively utilised whether in paper form, as digital files, through verbal updates, or even on interactive whiteboards.

Central to PRINCE2’s methodology are three primary types of management products: baselines, reports, and records. Baselines provide the defining scope and objectives of a project, serving as unchanging references once established. Reports offer timely insights into ongoing progress and any shifts in the project’s trajectory. Records, on the other hand, keep a detailed, chronological track of events, capturing the real-time pulse of the project lifecycle.

The development and maintenance of these products are integral to PRINCE2’s structured approach, with specific responsibilities allocated to ensure their accuracy and relevance. This careful management underpins the integrity of the project information and supports informed decision-making.

For professionals seeking PRINCE2 certification, being well-versed in these management products is crucial. The PRINCE2 Foundation exam assesses your ability to recall their purpose, while the PRINCE2 Practitioner level demands demonstration of their practical customisation to specific project environments.

Detailed extensively in the PRINCE2 manual, these management products are further supported by downloadable templates that offer a solid framework for customisation. They are central to the methodology, not merely as administrative items but as pivotal instruments guiding the project journey.

PRINCE2’s management products are the cornerstone of proficient project management, embodying the combined knowledge and best practices essential for aligning projects with business goals and successfully navigating through challenges.

Baseline management products in PRINCE2

Baseline management products form the bedrock of PRINCE2 projects, serving as the definitive yardsticks against which all project activities are measured. These documents, once finalised and ratified, become the immutable benchmarks that anchor the project’s scope, quality, and objectives. Changes to these baselines are not taken lightly and occur only within a change control framework, ensuring that the project remains true to its initial goals and business justification.

The full list of baseline management products in PRINCE2 include the following:

Benefits management approach (part of PID)

At the core of the benefits management approach is the identification, planning, and tracking of the benefits that the project is expected to yield. This product sets the course for ensuring that the project’s outcomes translate into tangible value for the organisation. It is here that the criteria for success are defined, and where regular reviews are scheduled, to ensure that the benefits forecasted in the business case are realised upon project completion.

Business case

The business case is the main driver of a project. It is a comprehensive document that encapsulates the reasoning for the project – outlining the expected benefits, costs, risks, and the overarching business impact. This living document is continually referenced and updated throughout the project lifecycle to ensure that the project remains viable and aligned with business objectives.

Change management approach (part of PID)

Change is inevitable, and the change management approach equips the project with the necessary blueprint to navigate and manage this change effectively. This document outlines the processes and plans for transitioning from the current state to the envisaged future state, ensuring that the project’s change initiatives are consistently aligned with business strategies and objectives.

Communication management approach (part of PID)

Effective communication is the glue that holds project stakeholders together. The communication management approach defines the how, when, and to whom project-related information will be disseminated. This strategic planning ensures that all stakeholders are engaged, informed, and aligned with the project’s progress and objectives.

Commercial management approach (part of PID)

The commercial management approach covers the policies and procedures for handling commercial aspects such as procurement and contract management. It delineates the roles, responsibilities, and processes that ensure commercial transactions are conducted in accordance with both organisational standards and legal requirements.

Digital and data management approach (part of PID)

In an increasingly digital world, the effective management of data is crucial. The digital and data management approach lays out how data will be handled, stored, protected, and used both during the project and after its closure, ensuring data integrity and supporting informed decision-making.

Issue management approach (part of PID)

Issues can derail even the most well-planned projects. The issue management approach provides a systematic method for logging, tracking, and resolving issues that arise, ensuring they are dealt with promptly to minimise impact on the project objectives.

Plan (project plan, stage plans, team plans, exception plans)

The creation of structured plans at various levels – project, stage, team, and exception – is pivotal. They sketch out the project’s chronology, setting out the main deliverables, timelines, resource allocations, and responsibilities. Each plan serves as a detailed map, guiding the project through its different stages and ensuring everyone involved is in sync with the project’s direction.

Product description

The product description is a detailed outline of each deliverable within the project, specifying its purpose, composition, derivation, and criteria for acceptance. These descriptions ensure that each product is clearly understood, adequately planned for, and correctly integrated into the overall project deliverables.

Project brief

The project brief acts as the green light for the project’s commencement. It summarises the project’s objectives, scope, and constraints and is used to gain formal approval to proceed with the initiation phase.

Project initiation documentation

The project initiation documentation (PID) often considered the cornerstone of the project, details everything from the business case to the risk management approach. It serves as the definitive guide that informs all project decision-making and governance.

Project product description

This serves as the blueprint for the project’s final output. The project product description specifies what the project will deliver, providing clarity on what must be achieved for the project to be accepted as complete.

Quality management approach (part of PID)

Quality is non-negotiable, and the quality management approach ensures it is woven into the fabric of the project. This approach establishes the quality criteria, standards, and processes that will be applied, and identifies the responsibilities for quality control activities throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Risk management approach (part of PID)

Risk is an inherent aspect of any project, and the risk management approach is the proactive response to this uncertainty. It prescribes the methodology for identifying, assessing, controlling, and communicating risks, guiding the project team in navigating these potential obstacles.

Sustainability management approach (part of PID)

Sustainability is a vital consideration in today’s projects. The sustainability management approach ensures that the project aligns with environmental, social, and economic sustainability targets, setting out the actions, reviews, and controls necessary to achieve these objectives.

Work package description

The work package description formalises the agreement between the project manager and a team manager regarding the work to be done. Detailed within are the specifications for the products to be delivered, the techniques to be used, the tolerances allowed, and the reporting requirements.

Each baseline management product is an integral piece of the PRINCE2 approach to project management, providing clarity, direction, and a means to measure performance against the project’s original goals. Together, they form a coherent structure that supports the management, control, and successful delivery of projects.

Reports for ongoing PRINCE2 project oversight

In PRINCE2, reports are not just bureaucratic formalities; they are essential communication tools that maintain the project’s pulse. These reports offer critical snapshots of various project aspects at given points in time. They are instrumental in creating a transparent, accountable, and adaptive project management environment, where decision-making is informed and timely.

There are seven reports in PRINCE2:

Checkpoint report

A checkpoint report is much like a status update in a project manager’s toolbox. It is written by the team manager for a particular work package and gives a succinct picture of where things stand in comparison to the plan. Should there be any discrepancies or unforeseen obstacles, the report highlights these, allowing for prompt corrective action. This ongoing reporting ensures that the project manager is always in the loop, never blindsided, and can manage by exception, focusing on areas that deviate from the plan.

End project report

As a project draws to a close, the end project report comes into play. This comprehensive report is the culmination of all the reporting done throughout the project and serves as a post-mortem of sorts. It evaluates the project’s overall performance against the original plans and baselines, confirms that all deliverables have been completed and accepted, and carefully documents any lessons learned. This final report provides a complete narrative of the project, from inception to conclusion, capturing the essence of the journey and offering wisdom for future projects.

End stage report

Each project stage concludes with an end stage report, a retrospective that gauges the performance of the stage against its plan. This report not only captures the achievements and challenges faced but also looks forward, offering insights and forecasts for the upcoming stage. It is a critical decision-making tool for the project board, which must determine whether the project should proceed as planned, be adjusted, or be terminated.

Exception report

When a project or stage is predicted to exceed its predefined tolerances, an exception report is triggered. This report is an alarm bell, drawing immediate attention to significant deviations from the plan. It presents an analysis of the situation, explores potential solutions, and recommends a course of action. This information is vital for the project board, which relies on it to make informed decisions about the future direction of the project.

Highlight report

The highlight report is an interim communication, providing a summary of progress during a stage. Its regularity ensures that the project board remains informed of how the project is unfolding and can anticipate any issues that may arise. It supports the principle of management by exception, enabling the board to focus on strategic decisions rather than being bogged down by day-to-day management.

Issue report

Whenever a formal issue is raised, it is thoroughly documented in an issue report. This report examines the issue in detail, identifying its type, origin, impact on the project, and the proposed actions to resolve it. It ensures that issues are not overlooked but are managed proactively to mitigate any adverse effects on the project’s outcomes.

Lessons report

PRINCE2 recognises that each project is a fountain of knowledge. The lessons report is a repository of this knowledge, capturing not only what went wrong but also what went right. It is a reflection on the experiences gained, offering valuable insights that can improve the current project and guide future ones. These lessons can be pivotal in building an organisational culture of learning and continuous improvement.

Through regular reporting, PRINCE2 fosters a culture where information is shared, progress is monitored, and governance is robust. These reports form the narrative of the project’s journey, enabling stakeholders to stay informed, engaged, and responsive to the needs of the project. They are essential tools for managing projects effectively within the PRINCE2 framework, ensuring that project performance is transparent, and that oversight is consistent and meaningful.

Keeping track with PRINCE2 records

In PRINCE2, records are not merely retrospective accounts but dynamic products that provide a real-time, evolving narrative of the project’s life. These records are meticulously maintained to capture a wealth of critical data, offering a detailed view of the project’s progress, challenges faced, and the strategies employed to overcome them. They serve as a continuous, accurate reflection of where the project has been, where it is, and where it’s heading.

There are seven records in PRINCE2:

Project log

The project log is akin to the central nervous system of the project records. It is an exhaustive chronicle that catalogues every significant occurrence within the project’s timeline. From risk identification to the minutiae of day-to-day decision-making, this log is indispensable for capturing the project’s history, keeping the management team informed and prepared for audits or reviews. Comprehensive and up-to-date, the project log underpins the management team’s ability to track progress and make informed decisions.

Daily log (part of project log)

Complementing the project log is the daily log—essentially the project manager’s diary. Here, informal notes, musings, and ad hoc issues are inscribed, capturing the ebb and flow of the project manager’s daily operational management. Team managers may also maintain their daily logs, detailing the progress and hurdles of their respective work packages, creating a granular record that supports detailed tracking and management.

Issue register (part of project log)

When it comes to formal issues that pose a threat or opportunity to the project, the issue register becomes the focal point. This register provides a structured approach to log, monitor, and steer issues through to resolution. It is a critical tool for risk mitigation, ensuring that issues are not just acknowledged but are systematically addressed, with clear responsibilities and timelines assigned to each.

Lessons log (part of project log)

The lessons log is the collective memory of the project, documenting key learnings gleaned along the way. This log is instrumental for continuous improvement, capturing insights that can refine current practices within the project and paving the way for improved methodologies in future endeavours. It forms a knowledge repository that is vital to the project’s adaptive learning process.

Product register (part of project log)

The product register offers a comprehensive list of all products within the project’s scope. It includes their status, detailing whether they are planned, in development, or completed. This register is paramount to the project’s product-based planning approach, tracking the creation and delivery of each product and facilitating an organised progress review.

Quality register (part of project log)

Adherence to quality standards is crucial, and the quality register is the custodian of all planned and executed quality activities. It records details about quality events, outcomes, and any follow-up actions required. The register is vital for ensuring that the products meet the quality expectations established in the project’s quality management approach.

Risk register (part of project log)

The risk register is a living document within the project log, ever-changing as new risks emerge and existing risks evolve. It is maintained with up-to-date evaluations of each risk, along with their planned responses. This register enables proactive risk management, ensuring risks are controlled and mitigated in alignment with the project’s risk management approach.

Through these various records, PRINCE2 ensures that all aspects of the project are not just recorded but actively managed. These documents provide a transparent, accessible, and structured approach to project management, embodying the PRINCE2 principle of managing by stages and by exception. They are the threads that weave together to form a coherent record of the project’s history, its current state, and its trajectory towards its objectives.

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