Delivering the right thing, in the right way and at the right time to ensure maximum return on investment isn’t easy.
However, by ‘adjusting the controls’ within the principles and themes of PRINCE2® we have found a more responsive, agile, way of working that’s delivering significant value across our business.
I work in Mars Global Services, a function of Mars, Inc., which provides thought leadership, guidance, and shared services across our manufacturing businesses from chewing gum and chocolate to drinks and pet care. For the past 18 months, my role has been about empowering successful delivery of Business Change initiatives by advocating ways of working that maximize satisfaction and value.
We first started to talk about agile methods back in 2012 and initially found some success in utilising Scrum for IT initiatives. We felt its limitations and its use was generally restricted to a business-as-usual or continuous improvement context (i.e., adding features to an existing ‘Product’).
With the help of Keith Richards - one of the UK’s thought leaders on agile and current lead author for AXELOS’ PRINCE2 Agile guidance - we were challenged to consider a more holistic view of agile. This began a re-think of what agile could mean in project environments and beyond IT.
Working with Keith we defined a holistic ‘interpretation’ of agile which could be used across our organization to deliver change. This interpretation includes four key behaviours (autonomy; inspect, adapt and learn; open communication; teamwork and collaboration) which align to our company’s principles; and have to be in-place for agile to be a success. Three key approaches (fixed time, quality and cost; being change friendly; iterative, incremental delivery) define agile specific ways of working. These behaviours and approaches are then supported by a variety of tools and techniques.
For example: One of our key behaviours, ‘inspect, adapt and learn’, essentially means regularly soliciting feedback, asking customers what they ‘really, really, want’ and involving them in the process from start to finish. This ensures the solution (or ‘product’) is what the customer truly needs.
With shared vision and clear objectives from the outset, continuous customer involvement and refinement, the process is more transparent. The customer is fully on board and in control of priorities, making it possible for them to change their mind or come up with new (detailed-level) requirements. The net result is an iterative and incremental delivery of a new capability and customers seeing the early benefits of it.
Of course not everyone has ‘bought into’ the agile approach. One common perception of agile is that it lacks control, is therefore ‘risky’ for larger projects and might compromise programme/portfolio governance. In these situations we can’t use agile in isolation, but instead need to marry the adaptive and collaborative nature of the agile approach with proven ‘best practice’ governance and management methods.
PRINCE2 is often perceived as a methodology which lends itself only to traditional (or waterfall) approaches. I don’t believe this is true and strongly feel that PRINCE2 acts as a great guide for managing and directing ALL project types. It already has the fundamentals ‘built in’ to enable agile ways of working to thrive and we simply need to learn how to ‘adjust the controls’ to move between agile and traditional approaches.
I am looking forward to the launch of PRINCE2 Agile because of its guidance for ‘adjusting these controls’, so ensuring the principles and themes of PRINCE2 work successfully alongside agile approaches. The main benefit to our organization will be the opportunity to provide traditionally-trained professionals a tool to easily understand the benefits of agile, and how they can adopt this approach. Organizations reluctant to move towards agile approaches will soon lose their ability to react quickly to new opportunities. PRINCE2 Agile will facilitate the ability to change direction, maximize Return-On-Investment (ROI), while retaining proven ‘best practice’ governance and management methods.