Managing a Stage Boundary    

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

You must know and understand:

  • The purpose of Managing a Stage Boundary
  • The activities
  • The documents relevant to this process
The purpose of the Managing a Stage Boundary process is to enable the Project Board to be provided with sufficient information by the Project Manager so that it can review the success of the current stage, approve the next Stage Plan, review the updated Project Plan, and confirm continued business justification and acceptability of the risks.
The objective of the Managing a Stage Boundary process is to:
  • Assure the Project Board that all products in the Stage Plan for the current stage have been completed and approved
  • Prepare the Stage Plan for the next stage
  • Review and, if necessary, update the Project Initiation Documentation (in particular the Business Case, Project Plan, project approach, strategies, project management team structure and role descriptions)
  • Provide the information needed for the Project Board to assess the continuing viability of the project including the aggregated risk exposure
  • Record any information or lessons that can help later stages of this project and/or other projects
  • Request authorization to start the next stage.

For exceptions, the objectives of the Managing a Stage Boundary process are to:

  • Prepare an Exception Plan as directed by the Project Board
  • Seek approval to replace the Project Plan or Stage Plan for the current stage with the Exception Plan.
"Maasvlakte 2 is realised in stages, depending on the pace of customers appearing. The first stage is 700 hectare. In total Maasvlakte 2 will be 2.000 hectare, with estimated costs of € 2.9 billion.."

The Managing a Stage Boundary process is exceptional in the sense that it is activated by two different triggers: regular stage end or an instruction by the Project Board to replace the current Stage Plan by an Exception Plan. Yet there is a logic to this: in both instances the Project Board has to decide on the project's continuation in the context of a plan for a part of the project combined with the status of the project as a whole.

  • To be able to decide the Project Board needs information on:
  • The execution of the current stage up to this moment;
  • The plan for the next stage;
  • Validity of the information for the project as a whole, as recorded in the PID: Project Plan, Business Case, Project Approach, project management team composition. If necessary a new version of parts of the PID will have to be created!;
  • Project risk status.

Plan the next stage
  • This activity has to be performed for the first time at the end of IP, and later on at the end of each stage, except the last. This stage is to be concluded by performing the process Closing a Project.
  • When the Project Manager concludes in the activity "Review stage status" (in CS) that the current stage will probably be ended without an exception, he has to prepare the plan for the next stage. In doing this PRINCE2's generic approach to planning should be used. All information needed for drafting a stage plan will be found in the PID, the Project Plan and the Product Breakdown Structure. Perhaps a detailed PBS should be prepared for the new stage.
  • When drafting the Stage Plan the Risk and Issue Registers should be updated so all relevant information on risks and pending issues is available for the project board when reviewing the Stage Plan.
Update the Project Plan and Business Case
  • It is good practice to update plans with actuals in the course of a project. In this activity the Project Manager will update the Project Plan with actuals for time and costs that are available at the end of the stage. If necessary he has to update the Project Plan with new forecasts for these. A Project Plan could change through new estimates for the next stage, new products that have to be planned or new actions that are necessary through decisions taken on issues or risks. The Project Board reviews the updated Project Plan in the activity "Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan" (DP). When the updated Project Plan threatens the project tolerances the Project Board should take appropriate actions.
  • During the project the Business Case continues to drive the project. For this reason it has to be updated at the end of each stage with the latest insights from the updated Project Plan. Also at the end of each stage the benefits that should have been realised in the stage should be reviewed, and if necessary the Benefits Review Plan updated.
Report stage end
  • When ending a stage in a regular fashion the Project Manager will prepare an End Stage Report at the end of the stage.
  • The updated Project Plan and Business Case will also provide input to the report.
  • When the stage has gone into exception and an Exception Plan is prepared it is usefull to summarize the stage status in an End Stage Report too. This takes the same form as a report at regular stage end.
Produce an Exception Plan
  • As is evident from the process overview SB can be triggered in two ways. When closing a stage regularly SB will proceed to prepare the next Stage Plan.
  • When however triggered by an exception the Project Board can instruct the Project Manager to prepare an Exception Plan. This will replace the current Stage Plan, and will contain the planning for the rest of the stage that has gone into exception.
  • When preparing an Exception Plan the Project Manager starts from the decision(s) the Project Board have taken on time, costs, quality , scope, risk and benefits. One or more of these parameters will have to change through a Project Board decision in the activity "Give ad hoc direction".
  • As these changes can impact parts of the PID and the Project Plan, these should also be reviewed and maybe updated.

The following documents are relevant in Managing a Stage Boundary:

Continued business justification
In SB the Business Case is updated so in DP (Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan) decisions on the project's continuation can be taken based on the most up to date information.
Learn from experience
  • The Lessons is update;
  • The End Stage Report holds lessons.
Defined roles and responsibilities
The Project Manager prepares the stage boundary, the Project Board decides on continuation of the project.
Manage by stages
SB has explicitly as goals to close a stage and to plan for the next stage.
Manage by exception
In SB the Exception Plan is prepared and the project status is made out, using the most up to date information.
Focus on products
When preparing a Stage Plan the product based planning approach can be used on a more detailed level.
Business Case
In SB the Business Case is updated so in DP (Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan) decisions on the project's continuation can be taken based on the most up to date information.
A stage end is a good time to review the composition of the project board and, if necessary make changes to it, e.g. a new Senior Supplier coming on board.
  • The End Stage Report holds data on the quality work performed in the stage.
  • The Lessons Report looks into the effectivity of the Quality Management Strategy and the Configuration Management Strategy.
  • In SB plans are produced:: next Stage Plan, Exception Plan;
  • The Project Plan is updated.
  • The End Stage Report presents the current status of the risks;
  • The Lessons Report looks into the effectivity of the Risk Management Strategy.
The End Stage Report holds data on the status of the rfc's and off-specifications.

When it is evident that the actual progress is sofar behind plan that there is an exception in SB the Exception Plan will be produced.