• Basics
  • Stages
  • Controlling progress
  • Documents
  • Relation with processes

You must know and understand:

  • How delegation and tolerance work
  • Different types of controls
  • How the various management levels in the project cooperate
  • Principles and application of stages
The purpose of the Progress theme is to establish mechanisms to monitor and compare actual achievements against those planned; provide a forecast for the project objectives and the project's continued viability; and control any unacceptable deviations.

When the actual project is executed it is of key importance to be able to determine if work proceeds as planned, and if continuation of the project is still justified.

Progress is managed between the various management layers of the project, where the lower level should feed the higher with the information it needs for decision making:

To determine how to act when there is a chance that boundaries will be exceeded, PRINCE2 uses the principle of tolerance: each level has limits within which it is authorized to proceed. When it is obvious that these limits will be exceeded there should be an escalation to the next higher level of authority in the project.


A tolerance is the permissible deviation above and below a plan's target for e.g. time and cost without escalating the deviation to the next level of management.

There may be tolerances for the following plan goals:

  • Cost: over or under spending in relation to the authorized budget;
  • Time: over or under spending in relation to the authorized time;
  • Scope: priorities in products that have to be delivered ("MoSCoW");
  • Risk: aggregated risk level, or level of one specific risk that can not be exceeded without escalation;
  • Quality: bandwith of a product's performance that is acceptable;
  • Benefits: bandwith of the projected benefits that is acceptable.


  • Management stages are partitions of the project with management decision points;
  • a collection of activities and products whose delivery is managed as a unit;
  • a subset of the project and, in PRINCE2 terms, the element of work that the Project Manager is managing on behalf of the Project Board at any one time.

The use of stages (and the tolerances that are connected to these) is one of PRINCE2's most powerful Project Board controls. Applying management stages is a practicable compromise between

  • too much Project Board attention ('micro management')
  • and too little ('absenteeism').


  • enable the Project Board to evaluate the project without an excess of time spent;
  • make it possible for the project to be aligned to foreseeable external events, e.g. end of a fiscal period;
  • ensure that no work is started before it has been ascertained the work is feasible and desirable;
  • permit the principle of manage by exception to be implemented.
PRINCE2 uses management stages in contrast to technical stages. Management stages are divisions in time, where in each division a number of defined products are to be delivered. This does not take into account the nature of the actual work to be performed in producing the products. Technical stages on the other hand are defined by the nature of the work that is carried out during a certain periond, e.g. 'designing', building', 'testing'.

Number of stages and length

While each project needs two stages at least (one for planning and one for execution) longer projects may need more stages. When designing stages the Project Manager should consider the following:

  • How far in advance can you plan? In a stable environment the planning horizon is wider than in a more dynamic one;
  • Where are important decisions foreseen? Before large commitments (e.g. in money) can be made to the project the Project Board should be convinced that this is justified. For instance, before the actual building in a project starts one should be sure the designs and contracts have been approved;
  • The level of risk: a higher level of risk necessitates a greater number of formal review moments;
  • Many short stages lead to higher management overhead, a small number of longer stages diminishes management control of the project;
  • The confidence the Project Board and the Project Manager have in the progress of the project;
  • Is the project to be aligned with a programme? Then maybe more stages should be planned, so more formal decision moments will be available;
  • Alignment with technical stages: when at the end of a technical stage a key product will be delivered a stage boundary would be convenient.

Progress control is allways exercised against an agreed plan (Project, Stage or Exception Plan). On the lowest level control is exercised by the use of Work Packages.

Types of controls

All tools that help to manage the project's progress are called 'controls' in PRINCE2. When a control is used at a predetermined moment in time it is called a 'time-driven' control. Most reports are time-driven, and they are used for monitoring the project. When a control is used when a specific event takes place, it is called an 'event-driven' control. And example would be an end stage meeting. Event-driven controls are used for decision making.

Capturing lessons

PRINCE2 advises to regularly capture the lessons that have been gathered during the project, so that valuable insights won't be lost. For this the Lessons Log should be used. At the end of the project all lessons can be accumulated in the Lessons Report, which will be part of the End Project Report.

Reporting progress

In PRINCE2 regular progress reports are produced at two levels:

  1. Between Team Manager and Project Manager: Checkpoint Reports;
  2. Between Project Manager and Project Board: Highlight Reports.

Monitoring progress

One of the Project Manager's responsibilities is to have a clear insight into the actual progress of the current stage. This insight should be based on the current stage plan and the regular progress reports from the Team Managers (the Checkpoint Reports). This should be supplemented by information from the:

  • Daily-Log
    Actions that are too small to be incoporated into the Stage Plan should be documented here;
  • Issue-Register
    An overview of relevant events that may have an impact on progress (see Issue Report and Issue Register);
  • Quality Register
    The overview of all quality actions that have been performed;
  • Risk-Register
    Status of individual risks and the trend in risk development;
  • Product-Status-Account
    The actual status of products that should have been delivered, or that should have a certain status, can be derived from this report.

The following documents are relevant to the Progress theme:

With Starting up a Project (SU)

  • Project tolerance is agreed for the project as a whole';
  • In SU there is no tolerance as there is no plan.

With Directing a Project (DP)

  • The PB decides on continuation of the project one stage at a time;
  • The PB sets stage tolerances.

With Initiating a Project (IP)

  • For IP a Stage Plan is drafted and tolerances could be set;
  • The Project Plan is drafted;

With Controlling a Stage (CS)

  • In CS the Project manager controls the stage against the Stage Plan;
  • The Project Manager reports progress using a Highlight Report;
  • The Lessons Log is updated;
  • Work is delegated using Work Packages.
  • De Project Manager delegeert het werk naar uitvoerenden door middel van Work Packages.

With Managing Product Delivery (MP)

  • Work Packages can have tolerances;
  • The Team Manager reports on the progress of Work Packages using Checkpoint Reports.

With Managing a Stage Boundary (SB)

  • In SB Stage Plans are drafted;
  • The End Stage Report summarizes performance and lessons of the stage.

With Closing a Project (CP)

  • The Lessons Report summarizes lessons from the project as a whole.

Met Starting up a Project (SU)

  • In SU worden de Kwaliteitsverwachting van de klant en de Acceptatiecriteria vastgelegd.
  • De kwaliteitseisen kunnen ook van invloed zijn op de keuze van suppliers.

With Directing a Project (DP)

  • In alle beslissingen van de Project Board is Kwaliteit één van de overwegingen (naast benefits, scope, tijd, kosten en risico).

Met Initiating a Project (IP)

  • In IP worden de Product Descriptions opgesteld.
  • Het Quality Register wordt geopend.
  • De Quality Management Strategy wordt opgesteld.
  • De Project Product Description, met daarin de Kwaliteitsverwachting van de klant en de Acceptatiecriteria wordt afgerond.

Met Controlling a Stage (CS)

  • In Workpackages worden de Product Descriptions (met daarin de Kwaliteitscriteria) opgenomen.
  • Wanneer het nodig is worden aanvullende afspraken over kwaliteitswerk gemaakt.
Met Managing Product Delivery(MP)
  • In Workpackages worden de Product Descriptions (met daarin de Kwaliteitscriteria) opgenomen.
  • In de activiteit "Work Package uitvoeren" worden de testen uitgevoerd die voor de producten zijn beschreven.
  • Het testwerk wordt bijgehouden in dhet Quality Register.
With Managing a Stage Boundary (SB)
  • Bij de planning van een nieuwe fase wordt het Quality Register bijgewerkt met de testen en reviews die voor die fase zijn gepland.
  • Voor nieuwe producten worden de Product Descriptions opgesteld. Voor al eerder gedefinieerde producten kan het nodig zijn de Product Descriptions bij te werken.
  • In de activiteit "Fase afsluiting rapporteren" wordt vastgesteld welke producten in deze fase zijn afgerond. Hiervoor wordt een Product Status Account opgesteld
Met Closing a Project (CP)
  • Bij het afsluiten van een project moet voor alle producten duidelijk zijn dat er acceptatie heeft plaatsgevonden. Hiervoor wordt een Product Status Account opgesteld.