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PRINCE2 - Starting up a Project (SU) part 1

Fundamental principles

There must be a basic business requirement that triggers the project. The question should be asked: ‘Do we have a viable and worthwhile project?’ No resources should be committed until this can be answered.

Responsibilities must be defined and key roles have been filled. Someone has to begin the project and make the first decisions.

Certain base information is needed to make rational decisions about commissioning of the project.

An initiation Stage Plan must be submitted for approval before the initiation stage can be entered.

Each part of a process is covered by standard headings as necessary:

  • Fundamental principles
  • Context
  • Process description
  • Responsibilities
  • Information needs
  • Key criteria


This is the first process in PRINCE2®.
Once complete the Project Board can approve the start of project initiation.
In terms of a process it leads to Authorising Initiation (DPI).

The trigger for the project is the Project Mandate.
This will range from a verbal request to a complete Project Brief and will normally be provided by corporate and programme management.

The process expects the existence of information explaining the reason for the project and the outcome expected.
Starting up a Project should be relatively short in duration.

Process description

This process involves the production of 7 elements:

  • Designing and appointing the project management team
  • Ensuring that the information required for the Project Brief is available
  • Establish the Project Approach
  • Establishing the customer’s quality expectations
  • Creating an outline Business Case
  • Setting up a Risk Log
  • Creating the initiation Stage Plan

The objective is to enable a controlled start to the project by ensuring:

  • All the necessary project management authorities exist for undertaking the project
  • Sufficient information is available to formalise the ‘terms of reference’ for the project
  • Individuals are appointed who will undertake the work required in project initiation and / or will take significant project management roles in the project
  • The work required for project initiation is planned
  • The organisation that will host the project team is informed of the existence and implications of the new project

The project must satisfy an ‘opportunity’ or ‘definition of a problem’ that arrives from an external source.
Any information that arrives that triggers the project will be the Project Mandate and could be anything from a ‘feasibility study’ or simple notes.
The nearer this information is to that outlined in the Product Description the easier the process will be.

The Product Description is given in the file ‘Project mandate.doc’ in the product package.
Information concerning the Project Approach (for making the project end products) will prove useful in this process for creating the initial Stage Plan and the Project Plan.

When the project is part of a programme this process could be a lot shorter as they would provide a Project Brief, Project Approach and appoint some, if not all, of the Project Board members.


This process can be approached in 3 ways:

  • Treat is as a stand-alone project with all steps applying
  • It is part of a programme. In this case, the programme will pass down either a Project Brief or even a Project Initiation Document. The Project Board may already be defined. The Project Approach and the Risk Log are controlled at programme level. That is all the work of Starting up a Project (SU) and most of the initiation work will have been done. All that remains to be done is to check that the information remains current and consider if any further work is required on the start-up products.
  • The project may be very small. In this case, it may be handled in an informal manner. Although this may only require a few minutes the Project Manager should not miss it out.

The Executive and the Project Manager must be appointed prior to the start of initiation, so that input for initiation can be prepared and appropriate decisions made.
Appointment of other members of the project management team may have to be delayed.

The Lessons Learned Report form previous projects should be referenced to inform the set-up of the current project.

The Project Approach may not be apparent. In this case a feasibility study may be necessary, the results of which will form could then form a Project Mandate for the main project.

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.
The Complete Project Management package.

And much more besides - at a fantastic price.