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PRINCE2 - Controlling a Stage (CS) part 6



Reviewing Stage Status (CS5)

Fundamental principles

Project management can end up being a daily ‘fire-fighting’ exercise.
Without suitable regular progress checks a project can quickly get out of control.
There must be a balance of forward planning and reacting to events.

There will often be a need to incorporate unplanned activities.

There must be a regular check on external events that could affect the project.

Context

This sub-process brings together the information in Assessing Progress (CS2) and Examining Project Issues (CS4) and decides what actions should be taken next.

If the project is on track and within tolerance, the next action will be the submission of Reporting Highlights (CS6) to the Project Board and Authorising Work Package (CS1) for any subsequent work.

If corrective actions are needed, and the stage and project are predicted to stay within tolerance, the next sub-process will be Taking Corrective Action (CS7).

The Project Manager may seek advice and guidance from the Project Board about any Project Issues (Taking Corrective Action (CS7)) and should always do if the stage or project is predicted to go outside tolerance (Escalating Project Issues (CS8)). Reference to the Project Board may help other projects that could be affected.

Process description

This sub-process provides the means for a regular assessment of the stage status.

The process decides whether:

  • Further Work Packages should be proposed
  • Any plan modifications are required

The first objective is to check periodically that the current stage is kept within the tolerances set down by the Project Board by:

  • Reviewing progress against the Stage Plan and Product Checklist (if used)
  • Checking the Quality Log to see the state of quality checking
  • Checking the Configuration Item Records to ensure that all products have been completed as stated and anticipated
  • Reviewing resource utilisation and future availability
  • Reviewing the effect of Project Issues on any change budget and Stage and Project Plans
  • Establishing whether or not the stage will go outside the tolerances
  • Passing Project Issues likely to cause tolerance to be exceeded to the Project Board for consideration via Escalating Project Issues (CS8)

If corrective action is needed, but the stage is forecast to stay within tolerance, the action can be taken by the Project Manager, as described in Taking Corrective Action (CS7).

The second objective of this sub-process is to review the project status, specifically:

  • Checking that the Business Case is still valid
  • Reviewing the Risk Log for possible damage
  • Establishing whether or not the project will go outside the tolerance
  • Ensuring that there are no quality problems

To achieve these objectives various steps are required:

  • Identify any variation between plan and actual progress
  • Check for any variation in the expected future resource availability
  • Assess any current risk to the Stage Plan for any change to the exposure
  • Check the updated Stage Plan for any new risks
  • Review external developments for any impact on the project
  • Check to see whether anything has happened within the project or externally that will impact the Business Case
  • Assess whether the stage will stay within tolerances
  • Accept any concessions made by the Project Board in response to an Exception Report and assess their impact on future work
  • Trigger Authorising Work Package (CS1) to authorise any necessary new work required by the Stage Plan

The Project Manager can use the Daily Log to note any of these checks that need to be done and many of the small actions that are needed after carrying the checks out.

Responsibilities

The Project Manager is responsible for this sub-process, supported by any Project Support roles, including the Configuration Librarian and those with Project Assurance responsibilities. It may be necessary on occasion to consult Project Board members for guidance, especially with regard to Project Issues or resource shortfalls, or external even that may impact the Business Case or Risk Log.

Information needs
Management information Usage Explanation
Issue Log Input This product will show the current situation regarding will Project Issues. These may be needed for reference when deciding on appropriate action to deal with them.
Risk Log Input This product shows the current understanding of the problems and threats to the project.
Project Plan Input Check to establish whether any stage problems (or potential change) would have an impact on the Project Plan.
Product Checklist Input (If used) This shows the current actual and planned delivery dates for key products.
Quality Log Input Assess the state of quality checking.
Business Case Input This is checked for any impact from the current stage progress.
Configuration Item Records Input These provide information on the current status of products.
Stage Plan Input The Stage Plan, updated in Assessing Progress (CS2), provides the baseline against which progress and the meeting of stage tolerances are measured.
Concession Input Decision by the Project Board to accept a Project Issue without corrective action.
Plan deviation Output The information to be passed to Taking Corrective Action (CS7).
Tolerance threat Output Trigger for an Exception Report.
Stage status information Input / Output Information regarding the current progress of the project. This information goes forward to Reporting Highlights (CS6).
Stage end notification Output Trigger for Managing Stage Boundaries (SB) (at the appropriate time near the stage end).
Trigger for project end Output Trigger for Closing a Project (CP) (at the appropriate time near the final stage end).
Work trigger Output Trigger for the issue of new Work Packages from Authorise Work Package (CS1).

These are given in tabular form in the file ‘CS5 reviewing stage status.doc’ in the product package.

Key criteria

  • Have all the aspects of progress, Project Issues and risk been considered?
  • Have they been balanced to create a complete picture of the current status of the project?
  • Have all reasonable courses of action been considered when deciding on the best way forward?
  • Has the project been honest with itself concerning the likelihood of staying within tolerance?
  • Do the estimates to complete seem reasonable in the light of all the information available?

This sub-process will often occur concurrently with other processes.
It is a cyclic / iterative process.

The regularity of stage status review will depend on how closely control is needed and will be related to the length of the activities.
Smaller projects may be reviewed weekly whereas larger projects could be every 2 weeks or monthly.

Where activities bear greater importance, for example those on the critical path, they may need more frequent monitoring and control.

Any new or changed risks should be communicated to an existing programme for their impact on other projects.

Non - PRINCE2 information

This product contains EVERYTHING in the publications:

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - 2005 edition
Managing successful Projects with PRINCE2 – 2009 edition
Directing Projects with PRINCE2.
plus:
The Complete Project Management package.

And much more besides - at a fantastic price.