PRINCE2 Foundation Certification Notes 7: Plans Theme

PRINCE2 Foundation Certification Notes 7: Plans Theme

Important: The new PRINCE2® Foundation and Practitioner exams (PRINCE2® 2017) are available from 10 July 2017 (details of the changes here). Don’t worry, the changes are quite minor indeed as all the 7 principles, themes and processes remain the same. From now on until the end of 2017, candidates can take either the existing or updated English versions of the PRINCE2® exam. All PRINCE2® Foundation and Practitioner exams will be based on PRINCE2® 2017 from 1 January 2018. You can still seize the time to get certified based on the current version! Once you get PRINCE2® certified, your certification is still valid under PRINCE2® 2017 and onwards!

Introduction: In PRINCE2®, there are 7 Themes describing important aspects of project management that are vital to the success of the project. The Plans Theme is the fourth PRINCE2® Theme which defines the means (who, when, where, how &how much) of delivering the products in the project plan. Like the Quality Theme, the Plans Theme is primarily based on the PRINCE2® Principle of “Focus on Products”. The PRINCE2® Foundation Study Notes for the Plans Theme below details what are needed for the PRINCE2® Foundation Exam.

PRINCE2® Theme: Plans

  • The Plans Theme is to provide a framework to design, develop and maintain the Project Plans (including the Project Plan, Stage Plan, Team Plan and Exception Plan).
  • Planning is the process of creating and maintaining the plan and associated documents.
  • The Plans are used to act as a baseline for controlling and comparing of the performance of the project on time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefits.
  • Good planning will avoid scrope creep and out-of-scope works to

3 Levels of Plans

  • Project Plan
    • a high-level plan for the whole project used by the Project Board for providing direction
    • shows the major products, their delivery schedules and costs
    • to be used as a baseline for project control
    • created during the “Initiating a Project” process and continually updated by the Project Manager during the project
  • Stage Plan
    • a more detailed plan for each management stage for day-to-day management
      • Initiation Stage Plan — created by the Project Manager during “Starting up a Project” process
      • (Delivery) Stage Plans — created by the Project Manager during “Managing a Stage Boundary” process
  • Team Plans
    • a detailed plan focusing on planning the assigned work of the Work Packages for product delivery
    • created and used by the Team Manager in the “Managing Product Delivery” process; need to be approved by Project Manager
    • Team Plans are optional

Exception Plan(s)

  • Should the project performances is beyond the tolerance, the original plan is not working and the Project Board may request the Project Manager to creat an Execption Plan / Stage Exception Plans (updates to the current plan) to help recovering the project from the deviations (in cost, time, scope, etc.)

PRINCE2® Seven Planning Steps

  1. Design the Plan
    • to agree on style, format, design, estimation tools and methods of plan
    • may follow the organization/program requirements
  2. Define and Analyze Products (Specialist and Management Products)
    • Product-Based Planning — an iterative planning process to gain agreement on the product scope
      • Writing the Project Product Description — with high level info, quality requirements and acceptance criteria (in “Starting Up a Project” process), info to be supplied by Senior User(s)
      • Creating the Product Breakdown Structure (PBS) — a hierarchical overview of the products (in “Initiation Stage” / “Managing a Stage Boundary” process), no special recommendation on the format from PRINCE2®
      • Writing the Product Description — for each individual products (optional for small projects)
      • Creating the Product Flow Diagram — shows the sequence and interdependency of events, need input from those who actually create, use and maintain the products
  3. Identify Activities and Dependencies
    • the Work Breakdown Structure is created to define the activities
    • dependencies can be internal or external
  4. Prepare Estimates
    • estimating the time and resources (based on the estimating methods defined in Step 1), usually in a range
  5. Prepare the Schedule
    • define activity sequence by considering the resource availability
    • include control points and milestones
    • calculate total resource requirements and costs
  6. Document the Plan
    • expand on the Plan by supplementing the details on: plan description, plan prerequisites, external dependencies, planning assumptions, lessons incorporated, monitoring and control, budget information, tolerances and risk
  7. Analyze the Risks
    • risks identified in Steps 2 – 6 would be analyzed and entered in the Risk Register

Plans Theme: Roles and Responsibilities

  • Corporate or Programme Management: set the Project Tolerances (in the Project Mandate) and approves Exception Plan (if any)
  • Executive: sets the Stage Tolerances and approves the Project Plan and stage-level Exceptions Plans
  • Senior User(s): provides resources for Product-Based Planning, e.g. product requirements, quality requirements
  • Senior Supplier(s): provides resources for Product-Based Planning, e.g. breaking down work, estimation
  • Project Manager: prepare the Product Descriptions, Project Plan, Stage Plan and Exception Plan / Stage Exception Plans
  • Project Assurance: advises on planning and assures the implementation of Quality Management Strategies
  • Team Manager: prepare Team Plan
  • Project Support: assists the creation and update of Plans

(The PRINCE2® Quality Theme is similar to the Project Cost Management, Project Scope Management and Project Time Management as described in the PMBOK® Guide for PMP Certification Exam dealing with the cost, scope, time, risk and quality planning of the product/project as in the PMP Exam.)

Wish you PRINCE2® Foundation Exam success!


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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