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PRINCE2 processes

by PRINCE2 Online
Gain the insights needed to excel in PRINCE2 and advance your career in project management.
PRINCE2 processes |

Getting started

PRINCE2 offers a structured approach to project management that ensures every team member knows their role and when to act. This free ebook is a valuable resource, introducing you to the seven PRINCE2 processes. These guide you from the start-up of a project through to its closure.

Overview of PRINCE2 processes |

The 7 processes in PRINCE2 are:

Understanding the ebook series

Before you dip into the processes of PRINCE2, it’s important to understand the context of this guide. It’s part of a series of four study guides, all updated to reflect the latest edition of PRINCE2, released in 2023. Along with learning about the processes, you should also explore the other three areas: principles, practices, and people. Together, they provide a comprehensive foundation for managing any PRINCE2 project and for preparing for the Foundation course.

The series forms a cohesive unit of study materials designed to give you the best possible advantage when taking a PRINCE2 Foundation course. Each section is carefully structured to build upon the last, ensuring a clear and thorough understanding of the PRINCE2 methodology.

Defining responsibilities for decision-making

In PRINCE2, processes define the responsibilities and timings for decision-making within the project. This clarity ensures that the principles and practices of PRINCE2 are applied correctly and consistently. The systematic approach outlined by these processes supports the effective governance of project management, making certain that every decision and action contributes to the project’s success.

Each process is tied closely to a specific project management team role, ensuring accountability and clarity within the project structure. The processes also serve to apply the PRINCE2 methodology in a practical context, showing how principles and practices come together to govern a successful project.

Starting up a project

Starting up a project - PRINCE2 process |

Starting a project under the PRINCE2 methodology is not just about jumping headfirst into the work. It involves an evaluation of project viability and preparatory planning for the initiation stage.

Clarifying the project’s purpose

The ‘starting up a project’ process asks a fundamental question: Is the project viable and worthwhile? Before any resources are committed, this process ensures that there is a clear business justification for the project, authorities are in place, and a plan for the initiation stage is documented. This process sets the tone for the rest of the project by establishing its objectives and scope.

By assessing viability early on, PRINCE2 helps organisations avoid the costly mistake of initiating projects based on unsound assumptions. Instead, it promotes informed decision-making from the outset, saving time and resources.

Key activities and their triggers

The trigger for the ‘starting up a project’ process is a project mandate from a commissioning authority. This sets the terms of reference for the project and outlines key information needed for the project board to authorise the initiation stage. During this process, the appointed project executive assembles the necessary team and begins to form an outline business case.

The primary goal here is to gather just enough information for the project board to make an informed decision about proceeding. Time is of the essence – the process aims to be as efficient as possible without sacrificing the thoroughness required for a solid decision.

Deliverables from the process

Two main deliverables emerge from this stage: the project brief and the initiation stage plan. The project brief confirms the project’s scope and expected products, while the initiation stage plan outlines the necessary work for the first management stage. Incorporating lessons from past projects at this point ensures that the project builds on the organisation’s collective experience.

By focusing only on necessary information, the process prevents unnecessary work on projects that may not be viable. The outcome is a clear, agreed-upon foundation from which to launch the project if it’s approved to proceed.

Directing a project

Directing a project - PRINCE2 process |

The ‘directing a project’ process is the responsibility of the project board which oversees a project’s trajectory and makes key decisions.

Defining the project board’s function

The project board has a strategic function within PRINCE2, providing high-level management direction and control of project stages. It ensures that the project remains aligned with the organisation’s objectives and that it delivers value to the business. The board is accountable for the project’s success, wielding the authority to initiate, deliver, and close the project.

Its oversight is essential for keeping projects on track and ensuring that it continues to serve the business’s best interests throughout their duration. The board offers unified guidance and makes the ‘big decisions’ to keep the project aligned with the business strategy.

Directing a project through key decisions

The activities of the project board include authorising initiation, the project itself, each management stage, and project closure. By managing by exception, the board focuses on making decisions at critical points rather than being bogged down with day-to-day management, which is the project manager’s domain.

The project board ensures that appropriate management control is in place and that the project continues to be viable. It’s a role that demands both insight into the project’s progress and foresight into its potential trajectory – always with an eye on the strategic horizon.

Essential directing activities and outputs

Key activities of the project board involve authorising the initiation stage, subsequent stages, and the closure of the project. They review reports from the project manager and make decisions on issues, risks, and changes that may impact the project’s direction.

The board’s decisions are informed by comprehensive insight into the project’s progress, providing a balance of governance and flexibility. Yet, they don’t create products themselves; they approve the project manager’s outputs, ensuring that the project’s direction remains firmly on course.

Initiating a project

Initiating a project - PRINCE2 process |

The ‘initiating a project’ process is about establishing firm foundations for the project, laying down everything that will guide the team moving forward.

The objective of initiating

The purpose of initiating a project is to ensure that before significant spends or resources are committed, there is a common understanding among all stakeholders of the project’s objectives, scope, benefits, and risks. It involves developing a comprehensive project initiation document (PID) that will serve as the reference point throughout the project lifecycle.

Detailed planning at this stage sets the direction for the entire project, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that the project has a solid structure to support subsequent activities.

Compiling the initiation documentation

The project initiation documentation (PID) is vital as it contains the detailed business case, approaches for managing various aspects of the project, and the project plan. It outlines how the project will be managed, detailing everything from quality requirements to communication plans.

By the end of this process, the project should have a clear set of management products that define its approach to issue management, risk management, quality management, and other critical areas. This establishes the project’s management strategies and provides a clear roadmap for the journey ahead.

Results of thorough initiation

Once the PID is complete, the project board can confidently authorise the project, secure in the knowledge that the foundations are robust. The project manager now has a clear set of instructions and a strong framework to guide the project through to completion.

The initiation process encapsulates PRINCE2’s commitment to thorough planning and risk management. The outputs from this process form the backbone of the project and are essential for its successful delivery.

Controlling a stage

Controlling a stage - PRINCE2 process |

The ‘controlling a stage’ process is the way a project manager keeps a tight grip on the project, ensuring delivery within agreed tolerances and managing any issues or risks that arise.

The focus of stage control

The process is all about the assignment of work to teams, the monitoring of this work, dealing with issues as they arise, and reporting progress to the project board. The aim is to keep the project within the parameters set out by the board, ensuring that any deviations are handled promptly and effectively.

By focusing on delivery within tolerances, the project manager can maintain a keen eye on progress, taking corrective action when necessary to keep everything on track. This proactive management style is integral to PRINCE2’s process-driven approach.

Tasks for managing stage progress

The project manager’s day-to-day involves authorising work packages, gathering progress reports from team managers, and assessing how the project is developing against the stage plan. Regular communication with the project board through highlight reports is crucial, as is taking action on any risks or issues within the manager’s authority.

This detailed oversight ensures that the stage delivers on its objectives while adhering to quality standards. Teams are empowered to manage their work within the agreed tolerances, providing an efficient and effective way to progress the project.

Maintaining momentum and alignment

To prevent the project from straying off course, the project manager must ensure that each stage remains aligned with the overall project objectives. This means regularly reviewing the status of issues and risks, updating the project log, and ensuring that any necessary corrective actions are in line with the project plan and business case.

Collaboration and clear communication with team managers and the project board are essential to ensure that the project maintains its momentum. As each stage progresses, the project manager ensures that the project remains on track, aligned with the business case, and within the scope and tolerances set out in the planning stage.

Managing product delivery

Managing product delivery - PRINCE2 process |

The ‘managing product delivery’ process is where the project manager ensures that the products of the project are delivered to the required standards of quality and within the specified timelines.

Ensuring successful delivery

The purpose of managing product delivery is to control the link between the project manager and the team managers. This ensures that work is properly assigned, managed, and that the planned products are delivered to the agreed quality standards. The project manager must be assured that the project board can confidently review the success of the current stage and approve the next one.

This process is pivotal in PRINCE2 as it ensures that the project’s outputs meet their quality requirements and are delivered within the correct timeframes. It’s a process that demands a close working relationship between the project manager and team managers.

Preparation and planning for future stages

Managing product delivery also involves preparing for the next stage of the project. This means reviewing and updating project documentation, including the business case and the overall project plan. The project manager ensures that all the necessary information for the project board’s end-stage assessment is accurate and complete.

At this point, the project manager updates the plan with the actual progress and revises time and cost forecasts. This is essential for maintaining the integrity and viability of the project as it moves from one stage to the next.

Documents and decisions for stage transitions

The outputs of this process, like the next stage plan and updated project documentation, are vital for the project board’s decision-making process. It’s this information that enables them to assess the project’s continuing viability and whether the risks are still acceptable.

This process also requires updating the benefits management approach and creating a lessons report that captures vital insights for both the rest of the project and for future projects. It’s about looking both backwards to learn and forwards to plan.

Managing a stage boundary

Managing a stage boundary - PRINCE2 process|

The ‘managing a stage boundary’ process encompasses the tasks and decisions involved in wrapping up the current project stage and planning for the next.

Preparatory steps for stage transition

As a stage nears its end, the project manager reviews the progress and prepares for the upcoming management stage. This involves updating the project’s documentation and ensuring that the ongoing work is still aligned with the overall project aims. The process ensures a seamless transition from one stage to the next.

The project manager’s role here is to collate information from the current stage and use it to inform the planning of the next. This planning is critical for maintaining the project’s momentum and ensuring that each stage builds on the successes of the last.

Planning and considering business justification

The project manager must review the business case and project plan, updating them to reflect the project’s current status and the landscape of the next stage. The project plan, in particular, is revised with the actual progress and revised forecasts for time and cost.

It’s essential that the project board is presented with a clear and accurate view of the project’s status as they decide on authorising the next stage. This is where the project manager’s planning skills and insight into the project’s trajectory become invaluable.

Outputs and reviews for stage completion

The outputs from this process, namely the next stage plan, the end-stage report, and any updated project documentation, allow the project board to review progress and make informed decisions about the project’s future. The stage boundary is a critical point for assessment and planning, and the documents produced here are essential for that purpose.

This process ensures that the project board has all the necessary information to approve the continuation of the project. It allows them to align the project’s ongoing work with the organisation’s strategic goals and to affirm that the project is still viable and the risks are acceptable.

Closing a project

Closing a project - PRINCE2 process |

At the end of a project, the ‘closing a project’ process ensures that the objectives have been achieved and that the project can be closed down in a controlled and orderly manner.

Acknowledging project completion

The purpose of this process is to wrap up the project formally, confirming that the project’s objectives have been met and that the deliverables are accepted by the user. It’s a time to ensure that all documentation is complete and that any outstanding items are addressed with clear follow-on action recommendations.

Project closure is more than just a formality; it’s an essential part of project governance. It ensures that the project’s outcomes are fully realised and that the investment in the project delivers the expected returns.

Completing objectives and documenting outcomes

The activities involved in closing a project include verifying user acceptance of the project’s products, ensuring the business can support these products post-project, and reviewing performance against the project’s baselines. It’s also the time to assess any benefits that have been realised and to update the benefits management approach with any post-project benefits reviews.

The process culminates in the creation of the end project report, which provides a summary of the project’s performance and outcomes compared to the original objectives set out in the project initiation documentation.

Securing the project’s legacy and learnings

The outputs of this process, including the lessons report and the end project report, are invaluable for future projects. They provide a record of what worked well and what didn’t, offering a wealth of knowledge for the organisation to draw on in the future.

By carefully documenting the outcomes and learnings from a project, PRINCE2 ensures that the knowledge gained is not lost but is instead leveraged to improve project management practices in the future.


As you approach the end of this guide, remember that understanding the seven PRINCE2 processes is just one step in your preparation for the PRINCE2 Foundation course and exam. Be sure to explore other resources, such as the ways to pass the PRINCE2 Foundation exam.

Final thoughts before your exam

With the insights from this guide, you’re better equipped to tackle the PRINCE2 Foundation exam. Remember that each process plays a vital role in the project’s lifecycle, and your understanding of them is crucial. Complement this knowledge with information on PRINCE2’s principles, people, and practices, and you’ll be well on your way to success.

So review, practice, and head into your training with confidence. Good luck on your journey to becoming a PRINCE2 certified professional, and may your projects be ever successful under the guidance of these rigorous yet flexible processes.

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