31 March, 2022

What is PRINCE2 Agile? …and Does it Make Sense? | Video


PRINCE2 Agile is a Project Management methodology developed for the UK Government. It was designed to create a high-governance framework for traditional predictive projects.

It is for PRINCE2 Project Managers who need to be able to tailor PRINCE2 to an agile context or environment.

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Introduction to PRINCE2 Agile

PRINCE2 Agile lets practitioners combine the strong governance principles of PRINCE2 with the flexibility, responsiveness, and rapid benefits delivery of agile methods such as Scrum and Kanban. 

It offers a certification for individuals involved with project, product, and program delivery and support. Its owners claim PRINCE2 Agile is the world’s most complete agile project management solution.

PRINCE2 Agile Training and Certification

There are two tiers of training and certification:

  • PRINCE2 Agile Foundation 
    As you’d expect, a foundational syllabus that covers the basics so you can embed PRINCE2 Agile into your day-to-day work practices. The exam tests your knowledge of PRINCE2 governance requirements, agile concepts and techniques, and how they go together.
  • PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner 
    Builds on the Foundation level and applies it to real-world project examples.

Aren’t PRINCE2 and Agile Mutually Exclusive?

At first glance, it certainly seems that way. Most people see the PRINCE2 methodology in Axelos’s ‘Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2’ manual as rigorous, prescriptive, and highly predictive in nature. It’s certainly a more formal approach that places a big emphasis on governance and control. After all, PRINCE stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments! 

So, it is easy to see it as very much a ‘command and control’ project management style.

And those who are comfortable with that aspect of PRINCE2 can see Agile methods, with their lack of structure, as a little bit (or a lot) anarchic. 

So, how do we reconcile this?

The key to this is ‘Tailoring‘. It’s a central principle of PRINCE2, which could mean that the flexibility of Agile is already part of PRINCE2. PRINCE2 Agile is an effective hybrid approach to project management.

But it is one that allows organizations to combine what is best for them in terms of delivery, with an imperative for a strong governance framework.

Therefore, PRINCE2 Agile helps organizations synthesize two very different but complementary approaches to get the best of both worlds.

The best of both worlds

  • The ‘PRINCE2 part’ focuses on the products the organization requires to support its business needs
  • The ‘Agile part’ focuses on delivering those products in an adaptive and efficient way, incrementally delivering more working products as the work progresses.

So, this means teams on a PRINCE2 Agile project can use any development approach they choose: Scrum, Kanban, or any other. The only requirement is that they comply with the structures and governance that PRINCE2 wraps around the agile cycles.

The PRINCE2 Agile Process

In the schematic diagram below, the agile process is scrum.

PRINCE2 Agile Process Model
  • SU Starting up a Project
  • IP Initiating a Project
  • DP Directing a Project
  • CS Controlling a Stage
  • MP Managing Product Delivery
  • SB Managing a Stage Boundary
  • CP Closing a Project

Stages are NOT Agile iterations, but are similar to normal PRINCE2 stages. Each one contains one or more ‘release’ and each ‘release’ contains one or more ‘iterations’. PRINCE2 Agile follows DSDM terminology, calling its iterations ‘timeboxes’.

Fix and Flex

PRINCE2 has 6 performance targets (time, cost, quality, scope, risks, benefits).

In PRINCE2 Agile, time and cost are fixed – they cannot change. So, to deliver what users need, scope and quality criteria can be flexed, as agreed with the customer. They can also determine how much risk to accept and the amount of benefit they will prioritize. To achieve this PRINCE2 Agile uses prioritization techniques such as MoSCoW, along with sprint backlogs.

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What Kit does a Project Manager Need?

I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own. 

Check out the Kit a Project Manager needs

Note that the links are affiliated.

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Mike Clayton

About the Author...

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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