Some projects are better managed under a Waterfall approach while others are better managed using an Agile approach.
However, The PRINCE2 Agile® course and certification allowed me to understand the needs of project stakeholders and apply the best combination of the two methods to get the most out of a project itself.
Indeed, I’ve always thought that the two methods couldn’t be mixed together, until I came across some very useful concepts during the PRINCE2 Agile course. The one (and key principle in PRINCE2 Agile) that has driven my change in thinking is Tailor to suit the project.
Here is an example of a project that, in the past, I would have typically classified as pure Waterfall, but where I actually used a hybrid management method backed up by key PRINCE2 Agile principles during the project itself:
Case: migration from an old-style technology to a new Cloud solution
In this case, the customer didn’t want to lose any of the legacy features of the old technology and also wanted to obtain new benefits from adopting the new solution. Conducting the migration was very important and several resources were needed (IT, analysts, salesmen, project managers, client support, etc.).
The customer fixed the quality level, outputs required and costs. However, the way the resources were involved needed managing to ensure the success of the project. For example, I had to support disorganized pre-project meetings where those sitting at the table were changing every meeting and at every stage of the project. That situation needed to be avoided at all costs, because it can lead to misunderstandings, loss of information and – most important – a lack of responsibility and accountability for the success of the project itself. This idea is supported in the PRINCE2 Agile principle Define roles and responsibilities.
Time and effort taken in the pre-project analysis – requirements, expected outputs and available resources – is often more than the execution of the project itself. That’s why it was so important that people were correctly identified and aligned, with a skilled project manager who collected all the information to share in an orderly fashion.
For this particular migration project, a Waterfall method with some Agile features that make the execution of the project lighter and more controllable was ideal – again, using the PRINCE2 Agile principle of Tailor to suit the project.
Agile methods supporting the PRINCE2 Agile principles
In this project, I also introduced consecutive delivery stages (following the principle of Manage by stages) rather than presenting the final solution to the customer at the end of the project. For customers that might have multiple projects happening at one time this helped them to remember what had been agreed (reflecting the principle of Manage by exception).
Also, it was useful to define the involvement of testers, quality assurance and acceptance on the client side to be sure the customer kept track of projects (in other words, the principle of Continued business justification).
Equally, the principle of Focus on products ensured that the quality of the product was preserved from the legacy system. Therefore, the implementation had to be adjusted to deliver everything expected.
Benefiting from a project management framework
Most of the concepts I’ve described might be already in use in an organization. However, they are often applied without a recognized framework which can result in a lack of best practices.
Common sense always drives choices on how to manage exceptions and allocate responsibilities, but PRINCE2 Agile certainly adds a greater understanding of how to manage a project (including Agile methods) and what to avoid. This makes it easier for the project manager to make the right choices for the good of the project.