Is PRINCE2 Agile? Of Course it is!
What is “Agile”?
I don’t mean “Scrum”, “Lean”, “Kanban”, “DSDM” or “Agile PM” – which are all good agile methods or ways of working.
Agile is a way of thinking. Agile is all about making decisions quickly, delivering quality products quickly, reacting to change and even expecting change.
The tailoring principle of PRINCE2 has always allowed for different levels of communication to be applied to different projects.
A simple PRINCE2 Agile example:
If you want to organise a party you might start with a thought of “Let’s celebrate your birthday” (Project Mandate). “Yeah, I’d like to invite some friends to the pub” (Customer Quality Expectations). “Let’s invite at least 10 people to the Black Bull on Tuesday (Acceptance Criteria), that way we can all celebrate and have a great time (Outline Business Case)”.
In that short conversation, we have just completed PRINCE2's Starting up a Project process.
Moving on to Initiating a Project - “What should we do about the people who might not turn up?” (Risk Strategy) “We should probably make a list of the doubtful ones” (Risk Register). “Should we check if the Black Bull can cope with a group of 10 - especially if we want food?” (Quality Strategy) “We should send the invites out using email and the occasional phone call”. (Communication strategy) “Let’s have a brainstorming meeting to decide what we actually need to do”. (Project Plan) “Why do you want to invite Pete? You’ve not seen him for months” “Well I might be able to help him with a little venture he’s involved in”. (Benefit in the Business Case) (Initiating a Project is now complete).
Moving on to Controlling a Stage - “We’ve heard back from Pete. He would love to come and has asked if he can bring his team with him – about 6 people”. (Issue raised in Controlling a Stage) “The Black Bull can’t manage the new numbers, let’s change to the Rose & Crown – they have a larger room”. “Yeah, good idea, I’ll phone the Rose & Crown”. (Reacting to change within Controlling a Stage, raising an exception report, making a decision quickly and taking corrective action). “I’ve just spoken to the landlord at the Rose & Crown and they can accommodate us on Tuesday so I’ll email everyone to tell them about the change of venue”. (Taking corrective action generated a new work package).
And finally; Closing a Project – “That was a great party!” “I’m not sure if we should invite your Aunt to the next party” “I thought her impersonation of a Russian Cossack was very good” “It wasn’t the vodka drinking I objected to – it was the dancing on the table!” “Oh, perhaps you are right” (Evaluating a Project delivers Lessons Learned).
All of the above was achieved without creating “documentation”. A few phone calls and a few emails were all that was needed. PRINCE2 is a also way of thinking rather than completing documents. PRINCE2 is fast and flexible, it can cope with changes – it is lithe – it is Agile.
In this simple example you've seen what some people call "PRINCE2 Lite." You could just as easily call it "PRINCE2 Agile." It is doing just enough to deliver a workable product - a good night out. Agile thinking is implicit in PRINCE2 while Agile techniques, such as MoSCoW prioritising, are really useful additions to your Project Manager's toolset
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