PRINCE2 Agile: meeting customer requirements; delivering the right product

Graphic image depicting three members of an agile team adding Post-Its to their project board

IAllan Thomson’m often asked how to apply agile principles in project management to ensure customers get the end product they need.

Knowing what a final product will do – and how it will do it – is essential; defining that clearly is the purpose of a requirement in the PRINCE2 Agile® method.

Requirements should be prioritized, agreeing what’s mandatory or a must for the customer as well as what they could have. For example, to understand whether something is a “must” you need to ask: “Would you put the product into operation without it?” A car can function without satellite navigation, but having brakes is a must!

Prioritization can apply to functional and non-functional requirements, e.g. a camera must take a photograph (functional) and its shutter must work in cold temperatures (non-functional). This level of precision in defining requirements delivers the right end product. And PRINCE2 Agile’s continual focus on prioritization ensures the delivery team meets deadlines and protects the necessary quality.

Establishing requirements

Understanding what customers want and need demands a combination of technical, interpersonal and interviewing skills.

So, in the discovery phase it’s necessary to break down what the desired product is. Initial information from the senior leadership needs to include key objectives and an idea of product description. This “boulder” of information then needs to become more granular; crushing it down into “rocks” that are the smaller products which will help deliver the final output.

By obtaining more detailed requirements you start to become more certain about the product you need to build. Agile approaches are helpful here as they get the end user in the organization to articulate the “who, what and why?” and the benefits they need to derive.

This allows you to create “User Stories” to refine the requirements. For example: “As a stock controller, I want to know if my stock control is very low so I don’t run out and fail to fulfil a customer’s order.”

PRINCE2 Agile – combining flex and governance

In PRINCE2 Agile, adopting the structure and principles of PRINCE2® ensures a level of governance while including the ability for the delivery team to flex scope and quality to protect the customer’s mandatory requirements which will always be fixed.

And using the agile approach of demonstrating the product to the business during the project makes stakeholder engagement easier, gives the business confidence and allows progress to the next stage.

It’s all about the team

Today’s C-suite executives remain concerned about agile concepts and they need visibility of how project managers and delivery teams are working together in this way.

PRINCE2 Agile equips practitioners so they understand more about how team behaviours, collaboration, communication and transparency translate to “right product, right quality”. Certifying at Practitioner level demands a true understanding of the method based on an exam which asks the candidate to deploy what they’ve learned in a case study scenario.

PRINCE2 Agile helps a project manager to lead a team but as part of the team; recognizing that it’s the team overall that will deliver on the customer’s requirements and is more likely to succeed when working collaboratively.

Read more AXELOS blog posts from Allan Thomson

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The challenges facing Project Managers

The imperative of closing the agile “adoption gap”

What project metrics are most effective when measuring true project progress?

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