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PRINCE2 - Starting up a Project (SU) part 7

Planning an Initiation Stage (SU6)

Fundamental principles

Make sure that initiation is not aimless and unstructured. Initiating the project and preparing the Project Plan will take time and consume resources.
The work should be planned and approved.


The Project Board now need to know what effort is required in preparing the Project Initiation Document.
Other aspects of the project already exist, for example, the Project Brief.

Process description

The objectives are:

  • To product the initiation Stage Plan that covers the production of the Project Initiation Document (which will include the Project Plan)
  • Define the reporting and control arrangements for the initiation stage

The Project Initiation Document is an extension and refinement of the Project Brief with the addition of:

  • project management team details
  • Project Plan
  • Risk Log

The initial Stage Plan needs to show the investigation and development of the extra information required, plus the development of the Project Brief into the format required for the Project Initiation Document.
The initiation stage should be short and inexpensive compared to the total project.

A stage structure for the project will be developed in this process.
At the end of initiation the Project Board will expect to see the Project Initiation Document and a detailed plan for the next stage.
This is because the extent of the commitment of the Project Board will only extend to the next stage.

If the project is part of a programme the existence of the initiation Stage Plan will give them due warning to prepare to review the Project Initiation Document.

The common Planning (PL) process is used to create the Stage Plan.


The Project Manager is responsible for planning the initiation stage.
Appointed Project Assurance and Project Support roles will assist.

Who ever is responsible for the business assurance will need to identify in the initiation Stage Plan how the Business Case and risk assessment will be checked.

Information needs
Management informationUsageExplanation
Project ApproachInputThis defines the method by which the work of the project will be carried out. This will have a bearing on the scale of work likely to be involved in initiating the project.
Project BriefInputDetails of the job to be done (plus any earlier planning work done) are contained in the Project Brief and will help to size the initiation stage.
Risk LogUpdateUpdate with any new risks.
Initiation Stage PlanOutputAn essential product to gain approval to perform project initiation. The plan for the initiation stage should be discussed informally with the Project Board.

These are given in tabular form in the file ‘planning an initiation stage.doc’ in the product package.

Key criteria

  • Does the initiation Stage Plan show enough resource available to allow the Project Manager to develop each of the elements of the Project Initiation Document and the following Stage Plans?
  • Has an appropriate level of management reporting been established as required by the size or level of risk of the initiation stage?
  • Does the Stage Plan show how each element of the Project Initiation Document will be produced?
  • Is there sufficient information for the Project Board to make the decision on whether to start the project of not?
  • Have those with Project Assurance responsibilities indicated which parts of the draft Project Initiation Document they wish to be checked, how and by which resources?

Initiation stages are usually short, and as such, formal reporting may not be necessary to the Project Board if frequent communication exists.

For some small low risk projects it may not be necessary to produce a formal plan for the initiation stage.

The amount of start-up and initiation work, even for large and complex projects is dependent on what work has gone before.

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.