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What PRINCE2™ Recommends for Project Boards – When the Project Board Does Its Work (#10 in the series Looking for Your Sponsor? The PRINCE2™ Project Board Approach to Senior Management Engagement)
By Jay Siegelaub – MBA, PMP, PRINCE2

PRINCE2™ is a process-driven methodology, so clear guidelines are provided as to the when of the Project Board’s work. Since the project’s Executive is the core business representative on the Project Board, the Executive is appointed in the very beginning of the PRINCE2™ process model. The Executive works with the appointed project manager to determine and clarify who the other members of the Project Board should be (i.e., the Senior User and Senior Supplier). This early definition of the Project Board members helps assure that there is senior management involvement from the beginning of the project. Once the members of the Project Board have been identified, much of the information gathering and communication is led from the project manager’s side.

Upon agreement to move forward with the project, the Project Board authorizes the project manager to develop a “Project Initiation Document” (or PID) to establish both the scope of the project (like a Project Scope Statement) and how the project is to be managed (a Project Management Plan) to achieve project results. When the PID has been prepared (along with a plan for the first Stage of development work), the Project Board is engaged again to formally approve (or not) going forward to begin the actual development work (the next Stage). At the completion of each Stage, the Project Board officially approves the technical products and reviews the management information to establish whether or not the project continues to meet each of their objectives. As the owners of the project, the Project Board always has the option to cancel the project at any time, which might occur of the project is no longer relevant to business needs (or no longer fits into business strategy), is becoming too costly, or cannot meet their objectives. Since these end Stage assessments are not intended to be frequent, status (Highlight) reports are prepared by the project manager to keep the Project Board regularly informed. Finally the Project Board, having opened the project, officially closes it down at the natural completion of the project, or upon a premature closure.

PRINCE2™ sets up additional, clear control mechanisms to detect and report significant deviations in any of its key “constraint” dimensions (its “tolerances,” defined as time, cost, scope and quality – but also including business benefits and risk). The agreed tolerances also define what “significant” means, so there is agreed understanding of the range of what is acceptable. A well-defined series of processes identifies, captures, analyzes and reports on these situations. The Project Board is then engaged by the project manager to evaluate these situations, and determine how the project shall proceed (with many of the same considerations that occur at the end of Stages).

The members of the Project Board have an ongoing responsibility to keep their eyes out for those issues in the organization that might not be seen by the project manager, and convey that information back to the project manager. They also need to be available for advice and guidance, and to communicate project issues to members of the organization, when relevant and/or when those organizational members are unavailable to the project manager.

PRINCE2™’s approach to senior management engagement pervades the entire methodology, and specifies the what and when of the Project Board’s roles and responsibilities. The Project Board provides support to the project and the project manager, and helps mitigate major project risks – all towards achieving the goals of the project.

Jay Siegelaub has over 30 years of professional experience delivering and supporting projects in information technology, insurance systems, banking, and nonprofit strategic planning, as well as in the pharmaceutical, financial service, consulting, and consumer products industries. As a recognized educator he has trained thousands of project managers over the past 23 years, including 13 years as the Project Management tutorial instructor for the Drug Information Association.

Jay’s recent responsibilities included leading the North American Change Management and Training practices for a UK-based management consulting firm, training corporate consulting professionals in project and program management, and supporting clients in managing the “people” issues of their business change initiatives. He has authored articles on training, project management and information technology for various publications, and often presents at conferences, including the PMI North American Congress (1999, and 2004 – 2007), ProjectWorld and ProjectSummit.

In addition to his PMP® certification, Jay has his MBA in Organization Management from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and is an accredited PRINCE2™ Practitioner, Instructor and Examiner. He has taught and consulted in PRINCE2™ in North America for 10 years (the first US-accredited PRINCE2™ instructor), and worked for the company (and with the authors) that wrote the PRINCE2™ Manual for the UK government.

He has provided Change Management and Project Management consulting and training (including PRINCE2) to companies such as Sun Microsystems, NATO, the United Nations Development Programme, Bechtel, IBM, Philip Morris, Credit Suisse, JPMorganChase and Diageo.

Jay also consults in Organizational and Professional Development.

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