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Mission statement - Formal approach

Formal approach

As we have already seen from the ‘simple’ approach above the Mission Statement sets out to answer the following questions:

What do we do? (product)
For whom do we do it? (customer)
How do we go about it? (Strategy)

The aim is to make sure that everyone is on the same wavelength with regard to the project.
However, the simple approach may be quite suitable for the majority of cases, for example, short duration or uncomplicated projects.
On the other hand, more complex and longer projects may require a more formal approach to make sure that all issues are raised and discussed before producing the Mission Statement.

The stages are described below and could be carried out using a brain storm technique.

Internal and external environment

You should consider the effect of the internal and external environment on the project.
Internal aspects could be, ‘What is the personnel department’s policy in recruitment?’
External areas to consider might be, ‘Are there any regulatory restrictions in place or legal constraints?’

This exercise should be kept as brief as possible and will be more straight forward for internal issues than external.
If the whole team is within one department it is easier than if a matrix arrangement is in place.


You should note all of the stakeholders, that is, anyone who has a vested interested in the project, for example, the customer,Project Sponsor, suppliers, senior managers, consultants etc.

Identify the customers

Identify the customers from the above stakeholders.
This will be the users of the project management teams output.
At least one will be the project’s major customer.

Identify and reduce to 2 or 3 key customers

Do this from the list above.

What do they want?

In order to find out what they want from the project go and ask them! Don’t guess.

Success criteria

How will you measure the success of the project?
This will cover both soft as well as hard issues, for example, job satisfaction, training (soft) or budgets, schedule, sales, expansion (hard).
If you are unsure how you will measure success you will never know if you have been successful.

Consider critical future events

What significant events might have a bearing on the project, for example, merger, exchange rate movements, recruitment policies etc?

Prepare the Mission Statement

Having considered the above you will now be in a better position to generate the Mission Statement.
The aim of the above activity, is to promote a degree of discussion and get the team thinking laterally, not to confine themselves into a box.

Having completed the exercise, everyone should have a lot clearer idea when it comes to writing the Mission Statement.

This can be written in a stepwise procedure:

  • Each person writes his own version of the Mission Statement.
  • Each is compared and any differences resolved.
  • Combine into an agreed Mission Statement.
  • Publish the Mission Statement.
  • Record in the Project Notebook.

Whilst the Mission Statement is not referred to specifically as a document to be produced within PRINCE2® 2005 or PRINCE2 2009 many of its aspects are discussed.

For example, in PRINCE2 2005 in the process 'Starting up a Project (SU)' and the specific sub-process of 'Defining Project Approach (SU5)'.

Under PRINCE2 2009 the purpose of the Starting up a Project process is to ensure that the prerequisites for Initiating a Project are in place by answering the question:

Do we have a viable and worthwhile project?
Nothing should be done until certain base information needed to make rational decisions about the commissioning of the project is defined, key roles and responsibilities are resourced and allocated, and a foundation for detailed planning is available.
[see Starting up a project - Purpose]

The purpose of PRINCE2 is to provide a project management method that can be applied regardless of project scale, type, organization, geography or culture.

PRINCE2 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] has seven principles:

  • Continued business justification
  • Learn from experience
  • Defined roles and responsibilities
  • Manage by stages
  • Manage by exception
  • Focus on products
  • Tailor to suit the project environment

[see Principles - Overview]

PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.