Taking agile to Prince2

More and more organisations are seeing the benefits of working in an agile way – and the same can also be said of projects and project managers


Although PRINCE2 remains the de facto project management approach for project managers across the globe, demand is growing for guidance on how best to apply agile delivery methods to the tried-and-trusted PRINCE2 framework. It’s for this reason that AXELOS, owners of a number of global best practice methodologies including PRINCE2 and MSP, have developed PRINCE2 Agile.

Designed around consultations with project management practitioners and agile practitioners alike, PRINCE2 Agile is an extension to PRINCE2. It combines a recognised framework with the variety of the agile ways of working, and is supported by training, an examination and a globally recognised qualification.

“The new approach promises to be transformational for many organisations,” says Peter Hepworth, chief executive officer at AXELOS.

“There are more than a million PRINCE2 qualified project management practitioners, making it the most widely used project management framework globally. However, we are always looking at ways of continually improving our best practice guidance and blending PRINCE2 with agile was the logical next step in the evolution of PRINCE2.”

In the UK alone, AXELOS estimates there has been a 10 per cent rise in practitioner exposure to agile methodologies over the last year, with its own research pointing to this trend being reflected on a global basis.

Axelos_graphic

The business case for developing the new approach addresses a key issue, improving the success rate of project delivery.

Richard Pharro, chief executive of APM Group, has been accrediting training organisations to deliver PRINCE2 over the past 20 years.

He says: “The pace and approach to project management has changed rapidly over the past five years. Stakeholders want to see a quicker return on investment and they want evidence that a project is yielding results. Thinking in an agile mindset can be a huge cultural shift for an organisation. Agile enables incremental delivery of change.

“It’s important to remain focused on the overall project goals, but allow for innovation too. Sometimes the best ideas occur when you are not travelling in a straight line, but you don’t want to stray too far from the original goal. PRINCE2 Agile enables businesses to become more competitive by focusing on delivery as well as project direction and management.”

Mr Hepworth says: “There is research to show that one of the main causes of project failure is not getting senior management buy-in. PRINCE2 Agile can bridge that gap by blending the governance of PRINCE2 with the flexibility and responsiveness of the agile way of working.

“Just being more agile, such as working in small teams of people drawn from across the organisation, can be very efficient, but if you fail to communicate what is going on, senior management can feel ignored and that’s where project failure becomes a risk. With PRINCE2 Agile you retain the benefits of speed and responsiveness.”

Initially, the perception was that the two methodologies behind PRINCE2 and Agile represented opposing approaches to project management. But as Keith Richards, the lead author of PRINCE2 Agile, points out, the new product combines the key elements and benefits of both.

Launched just a few months ago, PRINCE2 Agile is already receiving positive feedback from practitioners and trainers alike

“Back in 2001 when Agile was just becoming established, I thought then that the two very different approaches would actually work well together,” Mr Richards says.

It’s a belief he repeated in his 2007 book Agile Project Management: Running PRINCE2 Projects with DSDM Atern.

He says: “As Agile grew and PRINCE2 continued to grow, AXELOS, in response to their own customer feedback, asked me to author guidance on combining PRINCE2 with Agile. The project was a result of a collaborative effort involving more than 40 people, globally and cross-sector. We knew that for this to work, it needed a credible exam and really challenge people’s agile knowledge.”

Launched just a few months ago, PRINCE2 Agile is already receiving positive feedback from practitioners and trainers alike.

Paul Flower, a project manager specialising in data centre migration, attended one of the first PRINCE2 Agile training courses. “I was interested to see if there are different ways to deliver data centre migration projects, which can require a lot of agile working. Having done the course, I think there is a lot of scope in it to let us work in that more agile way and to adapt our processes accordingly,” he says.

Anne Jensen is a PRINCE2 trainer with EPM Group in Copenhagen and a newly accredited PRINCE2 Agile trainer. She says: “For a long time the PRINCE2 community has needed guidance for tailoring how to use PRINCE2 that was not in a command-and-control way. There has been a huge battle between traditional and agile project management because of this, and I think PRINCE2 Agile closes the gap between the two.”

One of the big attractions of PRINCE2 Agile is that it allows organisations to build on their current investment.

Mr Richards says: “Many have invested huge amounts in PRINCE2, and are now bringing in agile techniques and ideas. PRINCE2 Agile builds on that investment. Companies don’t need to start all over again and retrain their teams in something new. This is tried and tested and creates a best-of-both-worlds scenario.”

The recent launch of the AXELOS Professional Development Programme, an online annual membership programme aligned to AXELOS’ global best practice frameworks, will enable individuals to benefit from access to PRINCE2 Agile.

Designed for individuals to ensure their skills and knowledge are up to date and relevant, it enables members to demonstrate their relevance to their employers and peers with a digital badge, which is awarded on successful completion of continuing professional development (CPD) activities.

“PRINCE2 Agile is a great way for a PRINCE2 practitioner to stay up to date and it is an opportunity for organisations to show they are investing in their teams,” Mr Hepworth says.

Organisations that adopt agile behaviours and techniques stand to gain from early delivery of more projects. In turn, this will generate faster returns on their investment, giving them a competitive edge over organisations that have yet to take advantage of the flexibility and responsiveness of agile.

www.axelos.com

www.apmg-international.com

TRAINING COURSES

agileKRC are agile pioneers. Through consultancy and training we transform the speed and quality with which organisations use agile to deliver benefits.

We led the teams that created two of the most popular agile project management frameworks in the current marketplace, which includes PRINCE2 Agile.

We offer regular public training courses in PRINCE2 Agile and, until the end of 2015, these courses will be delivered by lead author Keith Richards.

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