Blending PRINCE2 and Agile – Part Six 

 September 15, 2022

By  Dave Litten

Blending PRINCE2 and Agile – Part Six

Starting up a project and initiating a project

Any PRINCE2 Project needs to be justified and must be viable from the start, but in the spirit of agile, we need to look at ways of working with their respective advantages and disadvantages. An example here might be co-locating the team – is this a good idea or too expensive?

Of course, it is not “all or nothing”. As part of determining the PRINCE2/Agile approach, consideration should be given to blending the use of both.

Such blends are commonly known as a hybrid approach. Here is a graphic that shows potential blending ideas:

Blending Prince2 And Agile - Part Six Blending Prince2 With Agile

At this point in the initiative, it might be too early to make any decisions on whether to use an agile approach, but when the project manager is creating the project brief, they could start to assess the advantages and disadvantages of using it (by creating the project approach document.

On the point of documents, it may be that items such as the vision statement, product road map, outline business case and project brief may exist as information radiators such as wall charts.

If an agile approach is used, the project management team needs to consider how the PRINCE2 roles relate to agile roles, such as the scrum master and the product owner.

Both starting up a project and initiating a project involve much interaction between the relevant stakeholders so the use of workshops and the visual capture of key information to identify the benefits, outcomes and outputs for the project would be used.

Because of the level of uncertainty, prioritise requirements need to be clearly defined in measurable terms although not in too much detail, and understood by all.

Due to the emergent nature of agile it might be difficult to capture measurable acceptance criteria for the final outputs in the project product description. This would be particularly true if the project was an investigative type such as research and development.

Indeed, it might be impossible to envisage the final solution, in which case the project product description should at least be clear about what the business problem the final products will solve and what outcomes they will create.

The project product description and the main product descriptions in the project plan might focus more on the required outcome or value that the product will bring, rather than its specifications.

Levels of uncertainty need to be explicitly stated as these may affect the choice of agile techniques such as the use of prototyping, spikes or experiments and the choice of how long to make the management stages and the sprints within them.

The impact of frequent releases should be assessed with respect to areas such as how quality will be managed and how the frequent delivery of products will take place for example will they go directly into operation use or not?

The use of agile and scrum approaches might be best served by creating what is known as the project vision and the project road map. The latter is a simplified project plan indicating milestone events and deliverables at this point.

When blending PRINCE2 and agile, it may make sense to combine both the starting up a project and the initiating project processes. The final deliverable here would be the creation of the prioritized product backlog.

Blending Prince2 And Agile

During the initiating a project process we need to decide on what parts of the project are best approached using agile and which are not. Agile is more likely to be appropriate when the end-product needs to develop iteratively.

The project product description and the business case should be defined with a focus on how the outcome can be described so that the outputs can evolve during the project.

Product descriptions can be written in the form of user stories or epics which will represent the requirements of the project.

Directing a project

Agile sees the steering and direction as part of the role provided by the product owner although this depends on the number of teams involved and whether or not there is an overall product owner. The blending of the senior user role with the product owner could be considered here.

When using an agile approach, direction and decisions need to happen quickly so it is vital to ensure that management by exception is operating effectively by creating an environment where people are empowered and self-organized.

The project board should see progress reporting based on the amount being delivered and the information flows being informal – the project board may even attend reviews and demonstrations so that decision-making can be based on more information gathered from the team as opposed to it being formally reported.

In this regard, the project bold should expect the emphasis to be placed on the quality and the amount of requirement being delivered because with agile delivery, times and cost of fixed.

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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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