In this first blog post of a series, Julia Gosse, trainer at SPOCE Project Management, considers organizations and their staff that have already adopted PRINCE2®:
What challenges do PRINCE2 practitioners and their employers face with the concept of agile project delivery?
The biggest challenge is that the term “agile” is often misunderstood: people might immediately equate it with just being “faster”; they might have heard it is only for IT-based projects, that it only relates to Scrum or that their legal and regulatory constraints would make it impossible to use.
The agile approach
Agile projects often result in delivery being faster but Agile is a mindset; that means recognizing your project will not necessarily deliver everything that was specified at the beginning and, indeed, that the users don’t necessarily need everything they specified.
When your timescales are fixed you have to concentrate on what the real priorities are. Rushing to deliver everything can water down the result and reduce the level of quality, something which will often return to bite you later. An agile project would rather not deliver something if it’s not to the required standard, but everything in the approach is designed to ensure that what is delivered will be of value to the customer.
Agile delivery approaches are increasingly used very successfully in non-IT projects. I have recently been working with an events management company using agile to plan and organize a large conference. This was particularly useful for this project which had a fixed timescale and fixed costs.
The more mature PRINCE2 organizations and practitioners deal with this approach well and see agile as a very useful tool. As a result, they will adopt certain approaches such as co-locating the project team, using regular interaction and collaboration with customers and users.
So, why does PRINCE2 Agile work effectively in a PRINCE2 organization?
1. A common language and approach
You’ve already got a level of control and terminology you understand and mature PRINCE2 organizations are adept at tailoring PRINCE2 to different projects.
2. Flexibility with agile methods
There are many flavours of agile out there and although Scrum is probably the most popular, it is not the only agile development approach. PRINCE2 has never been prescriptive in defining how you deliver a project and PRINCE2 Agile can work with one or many agile approaches, including Scrum, Kanban, and DevOps among them. This ensures that the project management team understands how to interface with the agile delivery approach.
It is important to understand that PRINCE2 Agile is still focused on project management and that the delivery team will still have to be trained in the appropriate agile delivery approach or approaches they adopt.
3. Having a business perspective
In PRINCE2 the executive represents the interests of the business; applying this to the agile environment is a winning approach as you maintain the overall business perspective. This ensures users don’t get carried away with their demands and what is delivered needs to fit with business requirements. This resonates well with the agile world because value is a primary driver for prioritizing what should be delivered next.
4. The Agilometer
Essentially this is a risk assessment tool to help assess how appropriate agile is for a given project. Even in a waterfall project you can incorporate some elements of agile, so the Agilometer allows organizations to assess the implications of doing so.
Within the PRINCE2 Agile guidance, it also provides a unique way of addressing the potential issues of introducing agile methods. For example, challenging assumptions about what needs to be specified at the start of a project, tackling resistance to a greater level of collaboration and thinking about training or workshops to encourage acceptance of agile in project management.
Why should PRINCE2 practitioners embrace agile at all?
The requirements and expectations of users in a hi-tech world are increasing and people are less prepared to put up with outdated products or systems or to wait for months and even years for replacements.
The use of mobile phone apps that encourage feedback and release frequently means we are all becoming very accustomed to the collaborative, iterative and incremental style of delivery that agile fosters.
Combining PRINCE2 project management controls with agile knowledge and capabilities supports a greater adaptability to changing markets and the ability to respond to change much more rapidly.
Read Julia Gosse's other posts in this series
PRINCE2 Agile for large projects
PRINCE2 Agile for uncertified project managers
PRINCE2 Agile for agile delivery practitioners