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PRINCE2 - Plans part 1


There are many benefits, effective planning will identify:

  • If targets are achievable
  • The resources needed to achieve a target within a time frame
  • The activities needed to ensure that quality can be built into the products
  • The problems and risks associated with trying to achieve the targets and stay within the constraints

Other benefits include:

  • Avoiding muddle and ad hoc decisions
  • Helping the management team to think ahead
  • Providing a yardstick against which progress can be measured
  • Communication by distribution of plans to all concerned that indicate, what is to be done, how it is be done, the allocation of resources and how progress will be monitored and controlled
  • Gaining commitment from the contributors and recipients
  • The provision of personal targets

Planning requires considerable effort and detail to indicate that targets are achievable.

Time must be allocated to generate plans.
The initiation stage should identify and agree the scope of the project and plan it in terms of management, resourcing, products, activities, quality and control. The Business Case id also refined.

The first stage will be in greater detail than later stages as ‘horizon’ planning will be used.
At a trigger towards the end of each stage the next is planned in greater detail.

Good planning will give greater assurance of a successful outcome to a project.

What is a plan?

A plan must be kept in line with the Business Case at all times.
It will require the approval and commitment of the relevant levels of the project management team.
This will be the Project Board and Project Manager for the Project Plan and Stage Plans.
It will be the Project Manager and Team Manager for the Team Plan.

PRINCE2® defines a plan as:

A document, framed in accordance with a predefined scheme or method, describing how, when and by whom a specific target or set of targets is to be achieved. A plan is a design of how identified targets for products, timescales, costs and quality can be met.

What are the elements of a plan?

The term plan can mean many things to many people. For some it just covers the typical Gantt bar chart showing timescales and some interrelationships between various tasks. To others the plan is everything required to manage the project.

For the purposes of Princes2 the plan should comprise:

  • The products being produced
  • The activities needed to create those products
  • The activities needed to validate the quality of products
  • The resources (including persons with specific skills) needed for all activities (including quality control and project management)
  • The time (duration) required for all activities (including quality control and project management)
  • When activities will occur
  • The dependencies between activities
  • External dependencies for the delivery of information, products or services
  • The points at which progress will be monitored and controlled (key points might be labelled as milestones, at the end of a stage etc)
  • Agreed tolerances

These could be enhanced with relevant charts, tables and diagrams to reduce ambiguity and improve clarity.

All Project Plans and Stage Plans need the approval of the Project Board.
Any modifications of plans will require the approval of the latest version by the Project Board.
Plans should be presented as a report in such a way that the audience can easily understand them, interpret them and ask relevant questions.
This will usually mean the use of two plans. The former will be at a higher level for Project Board presentation and the latter will be more detailed for daily use.

Any statement of activity and breakdown of resource and must be backed up with text that explains.

  • What the plan covers (that is its scope, for example, a stage, the project or particular products)
  • The planning approach taken
  • The intended approach to implement the plan (for example, the number of stages, the size of Work Packages)
  • How the plan will be monitored and controlled and by whom
  • What management reports will be issued
  • Any included constraints
  • Risks contained in the plan and any countermeasures taken
  • External dependencies
  • Assumptions made, including any planning assumptions
  • Tolerances to be applied
  • The quality control methods and resources to be used (Stage and Team Plans)

The major elements of a plan can be seen in the flow diagram in file ‘elements of a plan.doc’ in the product package.
The plan will begin with the products required which will have certain quality requirements and pre-requisites.
This will lead to consideration of assumptions and then the activities and task dependencies required to create them.

In turn you will then need to consider resources and risks with adequate control points.
This will finally lead to a revision of activities and resources and finally the time and cost.

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.