Blending PRINCE2 and Agile – Part Five 

 September 15, 2022

By  Dave Litten

Blending PRINCE2 and Agile – Part Five

The change theme

It might be easy to believe that PRINCE2 and agile address change differently, since the general philosophy of agile approaches is to respond to and embrace change, whereas the PRINCE2 focus is more on controlling change.

But this impression would be wrong, since the agile approach can work very effectively within a PRINCE2 project.
It is important that the approach to change and issues works with and supports the project’s chosen delivery approach, rather than working against it. With short sprints of less than a few weeks, the approach to change needs to be lightweight and swift.

Take care that this approach does not become sloppy and ineffective.

Blending Prince2 With Agile

It is important that any requests for changes raised during a sprint are dealt with speedily so as not to slow down the development of the products.
It is also important that the project management team avoid over-exactness when creating product descriptions. If the quality criteria of a product specify a specific colour, then it might make sense for the quality criteria to allow for a variety of hews and shades for that colour.

Specifying quality criteria precisely, only when it is necessary, decreases the number of requests for change that need to be treated formally through the issue and change control procedure. This also allows a more flexible approach to requested changes.

The appropriate definition of product descriptions, quality criteria, quality tolerances, and work packages is important. They can be defined in such a way as to allow for change at the detailed level, while at the same time creating a clearly defined baseline that can prevent a change to the purpose of a product from going undetected.

The project management team should try to baseline only quality criteria that encapsulate the purpose of the product.

Since the agile development team (which includes the product owner), is self-empowered, then that team should have the authority to sanction changes quickly. Even so, an informal sequence of steps should be in place including an understanding of the impact areas of any change that is requested.

Sensible tolerance levels and types should enable such changes to be implemented swiftly while demonstrating reasonable control.

Perhaps the six types of tolerance set down by PRINCE2, may exclude benefits tolerance and instead replace it with value tolerance, set and managed by the product owner.

However, there may be project-level changes that need to be dealt with more formally by the project manager, product owner, and project board.

The progress theme

The PRINCE2 approach to managing progress must work with and support the project chosen delivery approach rather than against it.

When blending PRINCE2 with agile, it will be more appropriate to focus on tracking how much of the requirement is being delivered as opposed to time and cost overruns as tolerances would have been set in accordance with this.

Because agile delivers products in the number of sprints that typically last by month or less, and once a Sprint begins, it cannot be shortened or lengthened, this leads to a situation where setting scope tolerances is important.

Blending Prince2 With Agile

The frequent delivery of products that meet their acceptance/quality criteria is the primary source of progress information and provides the basis for forecasting future progress.

In an agile environment, the project manager may not be able to move the deadline and so agile projects will often decrease what will be delivered and setting a scope tolerance is an allowable leeway on what deliver.

By allowing the project to be flexible regarding what to deliver, the probability that the delivery iterations or sprints will always hit their deadline dates is greatly increased.

And for this reason, within an agile environment, there will be more focus on scope tolerances than time tolerances.

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Dave Litten

David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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