Downside: Project Management Product Description Documents
Decision-making is central to project management and PRINCE2 is heavy on process and documentation. A project has a set of progressive governing documents in its series of processes. Beyond a "basic business requirement" the very first project document is the "Project Mandate". As PRINCE2 states, this document may come from anywhere, but should at least come from some level of management that can authorize the cost and resource usage commensurate with the size and type of project.
It must contain sufficient information to trigger the first "Starting up a Project" (SU) process and in that process a Business Case is created or evolved and contained in a "Project Brief". The Business Case justifies the undertaking of the project in terms of reasons, benefits, cost, time and risk and the source of this information is the project mandate and information from the customer. The business case is a dynamic document that is updated throughout the project to reflect changing conditions, although it is "baselined" during the subsequent "Initiating a project" process.
Although it contains six sub-processes, the SU process is intended to be of short duration and is designed to ensure that all the necessary players, and the information they will need, are in place prior to the real start of the project. The output of the SU process is an "Initiation Stage Plan" that ensures the required people are identified. This is contained in the Project Brief, a relatively simple document providing background, project definition (i.e. what the project needs to achieve), the outline Business Case, the customer's quality expectations, acceptance criteria and any known risks.
This documentation feeds into the "Initiating a project" (IP) process; a process that also has six sub-processes and the output is a "Project Initiation Document" (PID). Unlike the Business Case, which is updated, the PID is a substantial and stable document, except for the background attachments such as the Business Case. The PID is intended to define all of the questions: what, why, who, when, and the how of the project. It is the base document against which the project board will assess progress, the change management issues, and the ongoing viability of the project. Concurrently with the preparation of the PID, the first project stage is planned leading to the authorization by the project board of the project's first stage.
Then and only then, after the completion of twelve sub-processes, is the project manager in a position to actually start work. It would appear that there is room here for considerable simplification.
34. Ibid, p25
35. Ibid, p29
36. Ibid, p379
37. Ibid, 343
38. Ibid, p48
39. Ibid, p375