One of the principles of PRINCE2 is that a project should be planned, monitored and controlled one stage at a time. This allows for management control without the need to be involved in the project day by day. It also stops the ‘we have started so we must finish’ mentality that many projects have.
How is this achieved? The Project will be broken up into a number of management stages. Stages provide a point where the key decision makers in the project – the project board can review the project and make a decision on whether the project should continue and resources committed to the next stage of work. The minimum number of stages in a PRINCE2 project is two – the initiation stage and least one delivery stage. The maximum – it depends on the project!
PRINCE2 does not set any rules for how long a stage should be. This will depend on a number of factors, some of which are listed below:
1) The planning horizon – just how sensible it is to plan ahead into the future without it becoming a complete guess. Stages quite simply should be manageable chunks of work.
2) How much direct control of the project the project board actually want. Projects with shorter stages mean more direct control for the project board but more of their time will be required. Longer stages, less control but less time needed.
3) The level of risk – The riskier the project is the shorter the management stages will be giving the project board more control.
The number of management stages needs to be agreed between the project board and the project manager. The project manager will be document this as part of the agreed project controls in the project initiation documentation (PID) during the Initiating a Project process.
So, help your project succeed by managing by stages!