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PRINCE2 - Directing a Project (DP) part 5

Giving Ad Hoc Direction (DP4)

Fundamental principles

The Project Board may need to be consulted on occasions even when all is going according to plan.

These might be:

  • To receive regular reports
  • For advice on direction when options need clarifying
  • When the impact of events external to the project needs to be considered
  • To resolve resourcing issues that would affect tolerance
  • To resolve areas of conflict
  • Organisational changes within the project

During the project the Project Board may wish to communicate with the Project Manager concerning external events and its own changing environment or pass information to external parties.


This sub-process could be used at any point in the project.
It could be prompted by an external event or circumstances within the project.

Process description

The objectives are for the Project Board to:

  • Ensure that the project remains focused on the business objectives set and remains justified in business terms
  • Ensure that the stage is progressing according to plan
  • Ensure that the Project Manager is notified of any changes in the corporate or programme environment that may impact on the project and that appropriate action is taken.
  • Ensure that the project is kept informed of external events that may affect it
  • Make decisions on Project Issues or Exception Reports that are beyond the Project Manager’s authority
  • Advise the Project Manager of any change to Project Board personnel
  • Keep corporate or programme management and other interested parties informed about project progress

These should be achieved by the Project Board without the need to interfere with the project beyond the controls and reports agreed with the Project Manager.

The Project Manager should supply Highlight Reports to the Project Board at a frequency agreed earlier for the current stage.

The Project Board should assure themselves that risks are being monitored at a frequency that maintains control.
The Project Manager will refer any situations, where the project or stage tolerances may be exceeded, to the Project Board via an Exception Report.

Within its delegated limits of authority, there may be occasions when the Project Board may choose to:

  • Ask the Project Manager to submit an Exception Plan for the remainder of the stage to reflect the new situation

[see Producing an Exception Plan (SB6)]

  • Reduce the scope of the stage or project expectations to bring it back within tolerance using change control

[see Producing an Exception Plan (SB6)]

  • Abandon the project

[see Decommissioning a Project (CP1)]

The Project Board will provide advice to the Project Manager where Project Issues may impact on the Business Case and risks.
Project Issues include all questions, Requests for Change and Off-Specification raised.
These may represent changes to the agreed Project Initiation Document.
The Project Board will approve or reject changes. Any agreed changes may require extra funds or time.

If a Project Issue goes beyond the brief of the Project Board they will seek a decision from corporate or programme management.

The Project Board has the responsibility to obtain any extra or changed resources that occur as a result of agreements with the Project Manager on Project Issues raised.

The Project Board must ensure that any external events that may affect the project are closely monitored and dealt with effectively.
Any new information should be passed on to the Project Manager to raise a Project Issue.

The Communication Plan may contain details of external parties (for example, programme management) who may receive / provide information on a frequent basis to / from the Project Board. The Project Board must be aware of the exact requirements.

On occasion the membership of the Project Board may alter. In these circumstances they must inform the Project Manager and agree a new job description for any new members.


The Project Board is responsible for this sub-process.
Some activities may be shared with those with Project Assurance responsibilities.

Information needs
Management informationUsageExplanation
Highlight ReportInputRegular feedback on progress from the Project Manager.
Exception ReportInputEarly warning of a deviation. May trigger the creation of an Exception Plan.
Request for adviceInputSituations where a decision is needed that is beyond the authority of the Project Manager.
Communication PlanInputDetails of any interested parties.
Information from external sourcesInputCollection of information pertinent to the project from outside sources.
Corporate or programme management reportsOutputFeedback on project progress to outside sources.
Project Board guidanceOutputGuidance and instruction to the Project Manager following request for advice or as a result of information from corporate or programme management.
Exception Plan requestOutputRequest in reaction to the inputs noted above particularly the Exception Report.
Trigger for premature closureOutputPossible closure of the project before its expected end.
New Project IssuesOutputInformation from the Project Board or via them from external sources may trigger the creation of new Project Issues in Capturing Project Issues (CS3).
Stage Plan or Exception PlanOutputApproved by the Project Board.
Progress informationOutputThe Communication Plan may indicate the need to advise an external group of progress.

These are given in tabular form in the file ‘DP4 giving ad hoc direction.doc’ in the product package.

Key criteria

  • Does the Project Manager know how to contact the Project Board members in the event of problem arising?
  • Are Project Board members aware of the need to react quickly to Project Issues?
  • Are Project Board members committed to prompt reading of Highlight Reports and to a timely response to them?

For some projects there will be many Requests for Change.
The Project Board and the Project Manager should agree on the change responsibilities, a procedure and a possible budget to handle these.

Any external events that could pose a threat to the project should be documented as risks.

The monitoring of external sources of potential impact on the project may be delegated by the Project Board among its members who will have specific responsibility for one a particular area. For example, changing interest rates.

The Project Manager may seek Project Board guidance if any risks materialise.

If the composition of the Project Board changes it may be useful to seek the advice and approval of programme management as necessary.

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.