Plans are nothing; planning is everything. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Planning helps the project management team think ahead to mentally rehearse the project, so the very act of planning has a value in itself. PRINCE2 might not be fully aligned with Churchill’s and Eisenhower’s view of the value of the plan itself. Plans are the baseline for progress reporting and are therefore important to the project management team, but surely the two gentlemen would agree to some of the principles PRINCE2’s planning approach is build on:
- You clearly define and agree on the objectives before time is spent on planning.
- You limit the detailed planning to the horizon where details can be defined. Planning details too far into the future is a waist of time.
- The planning is focusing on products produced in the project, not on activities.
PRINCE2 Three Levels of Plans
PRINCE2 defines three levels of plans:
- Project Plan. The Project plan is a high level plan covering the total lifecycle of the project.
- Stage Plan. The Stage Plan is a short term, more detailed plan for the next “chunk” of the project. It needs to be adequate as a basis for day-to-day control by the Project Manager
- Team Plan (Optional). The Team Managers might create team plans to control the production of their Work Packages.
Project Plans and Stage Plans are design by the Project Manager. The design is not created in a vacuum, but rather in dialogue with stakeholders and key specialists. The Senior User should ensure the plan’s scope is covering the needs of the user. The Senior Supplier should confirm the realism of executing it based on access to resources, competency, technology etc. The Executive is the approver of the plans and is ultimately accountable for the plan.
Product Based Planning
PRINCE2 plans are product based which is in contrast to activity based plans. The approach is to define the end product, then break it into groups of deliverables (call products) in a product breakdown structure and then map out the flow of the products.
Product Breakdown Structure
The plan is broken down into groups of major products, which are then further broken down until an appropriate level of granularity is reached. The resulting hierarchy is known as the product breakdown structure.
Product Flow Diagram.
When all products have been identified and broken down to the appropriate detail level, a product flow diagram needs to be created to define the sequence of creation.
The “PRINCE2 Plans” is one of seven PRINCE2 Themes.