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PRINCE2 - Controlling a Stage (CS) part 1

Fundamental principles

The project management team must deliver the products within the tolerances laid down.

That is:

  • To stated quality standards
  • Within cost, effort and time agreed
  • Ultimately to achieve defined benefits

To achieve this success, the project must:

  • Focus management attention on delivery of the stage’s products
  • Focus the resources used during the stage towards this end
  • Keep the risks under control
  • Keep the Business Case under review
  • Carefully monitor any movement away from the direction and products agreed at the start of the stage to avoid ‘scope creep’ and loss of focus


This process describes the day-to-day handling of the stage by the Project Manager.

It begins when the Project Board approve the Stage Plan via the process Authorising a Stage or Exception Plan (DP3).

If it is the first stage and it will begin after approval in the process 'Authorising a Project (DP2)'.

The Controlling a Stage process is used for each stage of the project.

This process drives Managing Product Delivery (MP), the interfaces being the authorisation of a Work Package, any specified reports and the return confirmation that the Work Package has been completed satisfactorily.

There is a pattern of events to make sure that necessary actions are carried out on a regular basis.

Any or all of the Controlling a Stage may be used as it will be event driven by problems and circumstances as they arise.

Process description

The objectives are:

  • Deliver the right products
  • Ensure that quality is achieved as planned
  • Deliver products on time and to cost within agreed tolerances
  • Correctly direct and conduct work on products
  • Keep control of products via configuration management
  • Properly direct and utilise resources
  • Update plan with actuals, enabling progress to be checked against the plan
  • Correctly cost resource usage
  • Correctly manage any deviations from Stage or Project Plans
  • Inform all interested parties about project progress in a timely manner
  • Ensure that projects are stopped or redirected if the reasons for setting them up have been invalidated by internal or external events

Day-to-day control is vital for success. This will consist of:

  • Authorising work to be done (CS1)
  • Monitoring progress information about that work, see Assessing Progress (CS2) and Receiving Completed Work Package (CS9)
  • Watching for and assessing Project Issues, see Capturing Project Issues (CS3) and Examining Project Issues (CS4)
  • Reviewing the situation and triggering new Work Packages, see Reviewing Stage Status (CS5)
  • Reporting, see Reporting Highlights (CS6)
  • Taking any necessary corrective action, see Taking Corrective Action (CS7)

If changes are observed that are forecast to cause deviations beyond agreed Stage and / or project tolerances, then these will need to be brought to the attention of the Project Board.
This may require any of the following sub-processes.

  1. Capturing Project Issues (CS3)
  2. Examining Project Issues (CS4)
  3. Reviewing Stage Status (CS5)
  4. Escalating Project Issues (CS8)

Other factors to consider are:

  • The current stage contains work that involves resource expenditure authorised by the Project Board who will thus require feedback against expectations
  • All individual items of work in a stage should be authorised
  • See the Product Description for the Work Package in the file ‘Work package.doc’ in the product package.
  • Project work can only be controlled adequately against a plan
  • Any deviations or changes from the agreed plan must be acted on quickly to maximise project success


The core activities of the process can be summarised as:

  • Allocate work
  • Check on progress
  • Ensure that the quality is appropriate for the project’s needs
  • Ensure that Project Issues are controlled
  • Monitor risks
  • Report on progress
  • Watch for plan deviations

The Project Manager must allow time to manage the project.

Reports should be written but may be oral in particular circumstances for small projects.
The Project Manager should always consider what reports must be in writing and filed to help settle any later disputes.
This will aid in audit trails and maintain continuity in the project if the Project Manager becomes unavailable.

For some projects there may be no Team Manager if the team report directly to the Project Manager for small projects and where only a single stage exists.
In this case, the Project Manager will negotiate Work Packages with the rest of the team.

Controlling a stage is not only about processes but will also depend on people skills and internal politics.

Other aspects of management are covered by:

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.

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