PRINCE2 - Plan Theme

The purpose of the plans theme is to facilitate communication and control by defining the means of delivering the products (the where and how, by whom, and estimating the when and how much).

A plan enables the project team to understand:

  • what products need to be delivered
  • the risks; both opportunities and threats
  • any issues with the definition of scope
  • which people, specialist equipment and resources are needed
  • project, agreeing the scope and gaining commitment to provide the required resources.
  • A plan provides a baseline against which progress can be measured and is the basis for securing support for the whether targets (for time, cost, quality, scope, benefits and risk) are achievable. when activities and events should happen

PRINCE2's principle of manage by stages reflects that it is usually not possible to plan the whole project from the outset. Planning becomes more difficult and uncertain the further into the future it extends. There will be a time period over which it is possible to plan with reasonable accuracy; this is called the 'planning horizon'. It is seldom possible to plan with any degree of accuracy beyond the planning horizon.

A great deal of effort can be wasted on attempts to plan beyond a sensible planning horizon. For example, a detailed plan to show what each team member is doing for the next 12 months will almost certainly be inaccurate after just a few weeks. A detailed team plan for the short term and an outline plan for the long term is a more effective approach.

PRINCE2 addresses the planning horizon issue by requiring that both high-level and detailed plans are created and maintained at the same time, reflecting the relative certainty and uncertainty on either side of the planning horizon. These are:

  • a project plan for the project as a whole. This will usually be a high-level plan, providing indicative timescales, milestones, cost and resource requirements based on estimates
  • a detailed stage plan for the current management stage, aligned with the overall project plan timescales. This plan is produced before the start of that stage, and must not extend beyond the planning horizon.

PRINCE2 uses three levels of plan

The project plan provides a statement of how and when a project's time, cost, quality and scope performance targets are to be achieved. It shows the major products, activities and resources required for the project and:

  • provides the planned project costs and timescales for the business case, and identifies the major control points, such as management stages and milestones
  •  is used by the project board as a baseline against which to monitor project progress management stage by management stage
  • should align with the corporate, programme management or customer plan as appropriate.

The project plan is created during the initiating a project process and updated towards the end of each management stage during the managing a stage boundary process

A stage plan is required for each management stage. The stage plan is similar to the project plan in content, but each element is broken down to the level of detail required for day-to-day control by the project manager. A product description is required for all products identified in a stage plan. The initiation stage plan is created during the starting up a project process, prior to the project plan in the initiating a project process. It is influenced by the corporate, programme management or customer plan (or equivalent) from the organization commissioning the project. All subsequent stage plans are produced near the end of the current management stage when preparing for the next management stage. This approach allows the stage plan to:

  • be produced close to the time when the planned events will take place
  • exist for a much shorter duration than the project plan, overcoming the planning horizon issue
  • be produced with the knowledge of the performance of earlier management stages.

A team plan is produced by a team manager to facilitate the execution of one or more work packages. These plans are optional and their need and number will be determined by the size and complexity of the project andthe number of resources involved. Team plans are created in the managing product delivery process.