PRINCE2 Agile™ - ATO views

PRINCE2 Agile™ - ATO views

While Scrum has become the standard for agile software product development, many Scrum users are demanding a kind of umbrella for managing more complex projects where more than one team is involved.

Juergen HalstenbergSimilarly, many “well-established” Project Managers would like to know the 'Do’s and Don’ts' when integrating Scrum and would like to know which agile practices could benefit their projects. From my point of view, PRINCE2 Agile® promises to give suitable and balanced answers for the above target groups.

When I first heard that AXELOS was working on guidance and developing training for “How to blend PRINCE2 with agile”, I was electrified. As a PRINCE2 consultant and trainer and agile coach for Maxpert, a German training and consulting company, we want to enable and empower customers applying the methods we are experienced in, so PRINCE2 Agile seemed to be exactly “my business”.

I was very excited when I travelled to the very first 'Train-the-Trainer' training in London, though a bit scared as the only guy from Germany surrounded by experienced colleagues from UK, Norway, Eastern Europe and even from Canada. But my reservations were very soon blown away because Mike Acaster of AXELOS and Keith Richards of agileKRC (PRINCE2 Agile lead author) did a great job with the training; not only because of their British politeness and self-discipline but because the training was very well managed, organized and entertaining. Hats off to them, I have to admit, because I can’t imagine a more challenging and critical training audience than professional trainers themselves.

Having been through the 'Train-the-Trainer' training and luckily mastering the ambitious exam I would like to share my impressions. First of all I like the approach of the training and the guidance book as it reflects a deep knowledge of both PRINCE2 and the culture which comes with agile. It also takes a balanced rather than black and white approach: this is important, as agile approaches need respect when trying to direct and control a project, otherwise you might be at risk to suppress agile strength and thereby the overall method might become too restrictive and no longer fruitful.

When it comes to implementing the PRINCE2 Agile approach in the real world, I can see it applying well in companies that have a strong need for accountability, either due to culture or market conditions. Organizations won’t relinquish direct control processes easily; they want to feel secure and they want to avoid bad or unmanaged surprises which is perfectly addressed by PRINCE2 concepts like a project manager role, project stages and meaningful standard reports. This means having a fundamental need for control, which doesn’t align well with pure agile methods. From my experience, a pure agile method like Scrum doesn’t have a real concept when we have to manage projects with several delivery (Scrum: development) teams, with each team focused on totally different domains. This gap could be closed by a generic and established project management method carefully tailored as described in the present guidance/method PRINCE2 Agile.

Furthermore, from my perspective, more traditional companies currently remain quite critical of agile methods and PRINCE2 Agile could be a way for them to bridge the two. In fact it seems to be an established trend - at least in Germany - that organizations prefer “hybrid” approaches like PRINCE2 Agile rather than pure agile methods. At least this assumption is confirmed by the latest study “Status quo Agile 2014”: 39 % of the study participants said that they are using agile methods in a blended context whereas only 21 % said that they are using pure agile.

Finally, practitioners taking PRINCE2 Agile will get up-to-date knowledge of the most common agile methods, especially about Scrum and - to a lesser extent - IT Kanban. This is something the modern project manager needs to understand anyway as the whole world is talking about them. The PRINCE2 Agile training reflects the need for this with its transfer of knowledge about agile methods and knowing when and how to use them. The guidance will reiterate just how flexible PRINCE2 really is for any project.

For the agile community, those who are open to it could see how PRINCE2 might help them in their environment. Many are working in traditional companies involved in engineering, banking and insurance as opposed to businesses like Google or Spotify and could see the benefits of having a flexible project management framework wrapped around and mixed with agile delivery methods.

I think PRINCE2 Agile responds to a need among practitioners to go beyond the PRINCE2 framework, in addition to looking at programme management or other methods. This demand for broader and deeper learning is obviously an opportunity for training providers.

For more information, visit the PRINCE2 Agile section of our website.

Have you managed projects using both PRINCE2 and agile techniques? What are the main points to consider when running an agile project? Please share your thoughts or project management experiences in the Comments box below.

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