Directing a Project    

  • Basics
  • Process overview
  • Activities
  • Documents
  • Relation to principles
  • Relation to themes

You must know and understand:

  • The purpose of Directing a Project
  • The activities
  • The documents relevant to this process
The purpose of the Directing a Project process is to enable the Project Board to be accountable for the project's success by making key decisions and exercising overall control while delegating dayto- day management of the project to the Project Manager.

The objective of the Directing a Project process is to ensure that:

  • There is authority to initiate the project
  • There is authority to deliver the project's products
  • Management direction and control are provided throughout the project's life, and that the project remains viable
  • Corporate or programme management has an interface to the project
  • There is authority to close the project
  • Plans for realizing the post-project benefits are managed and reviewed.
The Project Board sets the direction for the project whenever needed.
The start for each stage has to be approved by the Project Board.
In DP we find five distinct activities. Four of these have the word "authorizing" in their name, and this reflects the core of the Project Board's involvement in the project: approve or reject proposals from the project. The Project Board also gives advice and direction to the Project Manager, both solicited or unsolicited.
The Project Board's assurance responsibilites are not regarded as separate activities in DP, they are integral to all board activities. And finally, the process DP only presents the formal board activities. The countless discussions, phone calls or informal meetings that are an essential part of the contacts between the Project Board and the Project Manager are not represented in the formal process description of DP!

The DP process is set between the level of daily project management and senior or programme management.

DP itself does not produce any documents, it only "makes" decisions. Most documents in PRINCE2 act as inputs to the decision making process of the Project Board.

Authorize initiation

The first Project Board decision is to authorize the initiation stage. Doing this the board allocates resources to carry out the work involved in preparing a PID.

The trigger for this first activity is the delivery of a Project Brief, an outline Business Case and an Initiation Stage Plan by the Project Manager. The board reviews these documents and can either accept them or demand changes before accepting them. Of course the board can at this stage also decide not to start the project at all.

Authorize a project

After finishing the initiation stage the Project Board must decide if the execution of the project can start. For this decision the following must be judged:

  • Is the Business Case sufficiently developed, and does it show the project being worth it's while?
  • Has the project been organized in such a way that the Project Plan's execution can be monitored and managed? Is there a way proposed to assess future benefits, and has a plan been prepared for this?

The information needed to answer this questions should be found in the Project Initiation Documentation (PID) and the Benefits Review Plan. Also an up to date Lessons Log is usefull to determine if any lesson has been found yet.

NB: In the project the Stage Plan for the first execution stage will most of the time be developed in paralel to the PID, and it may be submitted for approval together with the PID. Review and approval of a Stage Plan in PRINCE2 is a separate Project Board decision: Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan.

Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan

The PRINCE2 principles "Manage by Stages" and "Manage by Exception" are put into practice by dividing the project in management stages.

Before a new stage can start the Project Board should:

  • Determine if the project's latest stage has performed according to expectations;
  • Review the Lessons Report and see to it's distribution;
  • Review the risk status; Assure that products that have been delivered so far, have been commisioned as planned;
  • When called for, support changes that are caused by the project;
  • Communicate any follow-on actions to the parties concerned.

In addition to this the board must review the next stage plan. In a regular situation this will be the next Stage Plan, when the activity Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan is triggered by an exception, this will be an Exception Plan.
In this activity the board assesses

  • the Stage or Exception Plan;
  • the viability of the Business Case;
  • the Benefits Review Plan to determine if the next stage's benefits can be measured.

Finally the Project Board must take a decision:

  • Agree with the Plan and allocate the resources for the Plan's execution
  • Set tolerances for the Plan.


  • Indicate in which way the Plan should be changed.
Give ad hoc direction

Management by Exception does not mean the Project Board should not involve itself in the project, on the contrary! Information from within the project will reach the Project Board in various ways, and this can lead to them giving unsolicited advice to the Project Manager. There are also the Highlight Reports or Exception Reports that inform them, while they (or their assurance persons) also can review the Issue and Risk Registers. Of course also outside information will reach the board.

This can result in the board taking one or more of the following actions:

  • Instruct the Project Manager to draft an Exception Plan;
  • Give an other kind of directive to the Project Manager;
  • Raise an issue to be investigated;
  • Decide to prematurely close the project (see Closing a Project).
Authorize project closure

As the project starts with a formal Project Board decision, so it ends with a formal decision.

At the project end the board must perform a number of actions:

  • Review the project against the intentions as documented in the PID;
  • Review the Project Manager's End Project Report to assess the project's performance;
  • See to it that follow-on actions are properly assigned;
  • Verify that product delivery and handover have been carried out conform the procedures set down in the Configuration Management Strategy;
  • Distribute the Lessons Log;
  • Review and approve the updated Benefits Review Plan;
  • Compare the Business Case's final updated version to the original version;
  • Issue a Project Closure Notification that communicates the project has ended, and will no longer use the infrastructure an resources that where committed to it. This also ensures no further costs will be accrued to the project.

The following documents are relevant in Directing a Project.

All these documents have to be approved by the Project Board.

There is one exception: the Lessons Log: this is given to the PB for information purposes, and needs no approval.


Continued business justification
In DP the Project Board judges the ongoing viability of the project.
Learn from experience
It is the Project Board's responsibility to ensure the project's lessons are distributed in the organisation.
Defined roles and responsibilities
Ultimately the Project Board is responsible for the project.
Manage by stages
The Project Board is informed on the project's progress by stage, and reviews the project's status at the end of eacht stage.
Manage by exception
The Project Board manages by exception performing the activity "Give ad hoc direction".
Business Case
In DP the Project Board judges the ongoing viability of the project.
DP can only function with a well established Project Board.
It is the Project Board's responsibility to assure quality in the project.
The Project Board reviews an approves the Project Manager's plans.
It is the Project Board's responsibility to assure the project has adequate risk management procedures in place.
The Project Board decides on requests for change, if no other Change Authority has been established.
The Project Board is kept up to date on the project's progress, and reviews it's status at the end of eacht stage.