Written by Andy Trainer– Mon 17 Dec 2012
Within the PRINCE2® framework, the relationship between the corporate/programme management and the project management is important to define, especially with regard to progress. In this post, we'll explain the roles that corporate/programme management (hitherto c/p management) must fulfill and clearly set out the responsibilities of the project management in terms of notifying and updating c/p management on the progress of the project.
You can learn how to apply PRINCE2 to your projects on our PRINCE2 Practitioner Course.
For c/p management, it's about spending as little time as possible involved in the project whilst still maintaining overall control. This is termed 'management by exception'. Effectively this means that the c/p management approve the initial project plan and it's constraints, and then receive weekly or monthly updates (or whatever interval is appropriate for the time-frame) from the project management. So long as everything is running within the approved constraints, there should be no need for regular face-to-face meetings.
If the project does go outside of these pre-approved parameters then it is the c/p management's prerogative as to whether a review meeting is necessary.
Aside from overall approval of the direction and parameters of the project, the c/p management has other responsibilities to ensure the project runs effectively:
It is the responsibility of the c/p management to appoint an executive to the project management board.
They can also appoint other board members if they so wish, although it is more usual that this role is taken on by the executive.
In order to make the executive, and by default the project board, aware of the needs and constraints of the project, the c/p management should bear the responsibility for creating the Project Mandate. This means the c/p management have initial control over the requirements, direction and imposed limitations of the project and it is then the role of the executive and project board to decide how best to go about fulfilling this with the brief.
The project mandate should also outline the expectations of the client with regards to quality. Examples of required quality expectations may include, but are by no means limited to, presentation, reliability and performance.
C/p management must define the tolerances of the project with regard to scope/timeframe/costs from the outset so as to be able to pass on to the executive the necessary information for the brief. It is not for the c/p management team to micro-manage and make the rest of the project board aware of these tolerances, that again falls to the executive.
It is the role of the executive to liaise with the c/p management to ensure that they are satisfied that the project has met the requirements of the mandate, at the completion of the project.
If satisfied, the executive then has the authority to close the project.
Within the tolerances it is essential to define the circumstances under which it is necessary for the executive to consult the c/p management regarding decisions. This is because it is important for both the executive and the project board to be aware of the limits to their authority in terms of the decisions they are able to make regarding the project.
If the project is part of an overall programme and is thereby required to adhere to the standards of the other projects within the programme, and therefore the overall programme standards as well, it may be necessary to clearly define the scope or allowed deviation from these standards. The c/p management must then outline the level of autonomy given to the executive and project board regarding these decisions.
This framework is by definition suitable for large-scale projects, wherein the c/p management must be made aware of and have potential influence over the outcomes and direction of the project.
For smaller-scale projects, it may be the case that it is more reasonable for the executive to take on some of the roles otherwise held by the c/p management. This would be dependent on impact and context of the project, and would therefore be at the discretion of the c/p management.