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PRINCE2 - Planning (PL) part 1

Fundamental principles

Effective project management relies on an effective planning and control process.
Even small projects require planning.

Planning provides all personnel involved in the project with information on:

  • What is required
  • How it will be achieved and by whom, using what specialist equipment and resources
  • When events will happen

The Planning (PL) process is where the technique of product-based planning is used.
Product-based planning is a key technique of PRINCE2® and provided a comprehensive platform for effective planning.

It is the technique that enables the Project Manager to:

  • Define what the project has to deliver
  • Provide descriptions of the required products, the skills needed to develop the products, plus measurable statements of the quality required and how the presence of that quality is to be tested
  • Objectively monitor and control progress


Planning is a repeatable process and plays and important role in other sub-processes, the main ones being:

  • Planning an Initiation Stage (SU6)
  • Planning a Project (IP2)
  • Planning a Stage (SB1)
  • Updating a Project Plan (SB2)
  • Accepting a Work Package (MP1)
  • Producing an Exception Plan (SB6)

Planning is also an iterative process.
There will be a series of loops through the planning steps as extra information becomes available or adjustments are made.

Process description

The philosophy behind producing plans in PRINCE2 is that:

  • Plans are constructed by identifying the products required, and then the activities and appropriate resources necessary to deliver them
  • Plans should cover management needs as well as the customer’s products
  • There should be assurance that all activities are thought through in advance and to a level consistent with the control requirements identified in the Project Initiation Document

The product-based planning technique provides a start to the planning activity and a planning framework.

It involves:

  • Establishing what products are needed for the plan
  • Describing those products and their quality criteria
  • Determining the sequence in which each of the products should be produced and any dependencies

After these initial steps, the normal steps of planning are:

  • Identifying the activities needed to produce the products
  • Deciding when the activities should be done and by whom
  • Estimating how much effort each activity will consume
  • Estimating how long the activities will take
  • Agreeing what quality control activities and resources are needed
  • Producing a time-based schedule of activities
  • Calculating how much the overall effort will cost
  • Producing the budget from the cost of the effort plus any materials and equipment that must be obtained
  • Assessing the risks contained in the plan
  • Identifying the management control points needed
  • Agreeing tolerance levels for the plan

The steps involved are the same for all levels of plan.

Several iterations of the Planning process are normally needed.

The Project Approach is a prerequisite for planning.
This should have been defined as part of 'Starting up a Project (SU)'.


Planning is essential, regardless of the type or size of project.
The amount of detail varies according to the needs of the project.

The Product Checklist is optional in a project.
It can be a useful tool for the Project Board to use to review the project’s progress, rather than a Gantt chart.
It may also be used to clarify the information contained within the Gantt chart.

The first sub-process Designing a Plan (PL1) is done only once in a project.
Where the project is part of a programme, all the design decisions will probably have been taken at programme level.
In a small project it may be just a matter of deciding on a planning tool (if any).


Keep plans relevant.
Beware of the audience for the prepared set of plans and aim to provide an appropriate level of detail.

Time must be allowed for planning because it is a time-consuming exercise.
Planning for the next stage should start towards the end of the current stage.

It is easier and more accurate to plan short stages than long ones.

Past Lessons Learned Reports are an excellent source of information and guidance for planning at all levels, and should be reference where appropriate.

Where the project is part of a programme, programme staff should be involved or referenced during planning to ensure that any questions that affect the programme are resolved. This will help avoid rework following presentation of the plan.

Involve those with Project Assurance roles in proposing quality checking resources.
This should happen in Team Plans as well as Stage Plans.

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.