PRINCE2® & AGILITY
PRINCE2® stands for "PRojects IN Controlled Environments". This emphasis on control is one of its strengths. It is a generic project management method for exercising control over a project's startup through to its closure. It had its origins in IT, but has evolved over the past two decades so that it can now be applied to any project.
One key control is the Product Description - where you define what you want to produce before any work is carried out. However, that does not work for all products. Some products evolve during their development. Customer needs might change during development requiring quick reaction by the production team. Detail emerges during a project which will prompt change that needs to be dealt with ‘on the spur’ within the project. This detail and change requirement will not have been foreseen at the outset of the project. For example, software development and website creation prefer a more “agile” approach. Outputs are defined in advance, but the approach taken to achieve those outputs may need to be very flexible.
Standard PRINCE2® does not offer that level of flexibility as it is not prescriptive regarding the product delivery method. The approach to product delivery will differ from Mining to IT to Construction, and even from product to product. PRINCE2® does advocate that the method be tailored to suit specific project requirements. Factors that will play a role here are, amongst others, the scale of the project, solution complexity, project type and lifecycle model.
In response to the above, Agile development methods, such as DSDM, SCRUM and XP arose to deal with changing requirements more effectively and quickly, particularly from a software development viewpoint. These methods cover in more detail the day to day activities such as sprint planning, daily meeting structure, timeboxing, etc. and provides for several roles that operate at the product delivery level.
DSDM stands for Dynamic Systems Development Method. It is an Agile project framework, with guidance to achieve on-time and on-budget delivery to satisfy a business objective. It gives more attention to the product delivery side of a project and allows for greater flexibility. It focuses on the early delivery of real benefit to a business, user or customer whilst ensuring that the project remains strategically aligned.
SCRUM operates at the Team Manager level. SCRUM adds guidance in product production. Fast and effective delivery is the aim. Changes are done in small steps when reality requires it.
XP stands for Extreme Programming and is closely associated with software development. It advocates frequent “releases” in short development cycles to improve responsiveness to changing customer requirements – inevitable in most projects.
Both PRINCE2® and Agile methods have their pros and cons. It is often perceived that PRINCE2® is process-heavy and that Agile is process-light, and they are therefore totally opposite in intent. Agile methods do not have comprehensive cover for overall project management. However, PRINCE2® should not be seen as an impediment to Agile. Rather, it can enable more flexibility, but in a disciplined way. PRINCE2® is primarily intended to be a high-level governance process that is innately independent of the lower-level process used on a specific project. It should therefore be able to accommodate an Agile implementation approach.
The hurdle facing practitioners in many organisations is how to make the two work together effectively. Effective integration requires that the benefits of each can be achieved without diminishing the benefits of the other. One is a project management method for exercising control; the other is a development method for managing change. This makes Agile a natural fit to the PRINCE2® process of ‘Managing Product Delivery’. The team works with Agile, the project manager mainly works with PRINCE2®. The two compliment each other and should result in a good management method for control within a changing environment.
Conclusion: In short, Prince2® offers great control at the project level. Agile brings autonomy and ‘agility’ at the product delivery (team) level. The combined use of PRINCE2® and an agile approach to product delivery can provide the best of both worlds – robust project governance and an excellent process-driven framework that delivers the right solution to the customer at the right time.
Resources: 1. PRINCE2 combined with SCRUM. Martin van Borselaer (2010) 2. PRINCE2 + AGILE = Common sense? Craig Cockburn (2008) 3. PRINCE2, Agile, SCRUM – are they connected? The Dark Knight (2009) 4. http://www.dsdm.org