PRINCE2 Agile 2016
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7.3 Guidance on applying the PRINCE2 principles

PRINCE2 is principles-based and all seven of the principles are applicable when combining PRINCE2 with agile. Table 7.1 provides an overview of the guidance when applying the principles and some further considerations to bear in mind.

PRINCE2 principle Overview of the guidance and further considerations Example

Continued business justification

Agile often uses the term ‘value’ instead of ‘benefit’ (see section 9.4 for a detailed discussion of this).

The rationale behind creating a minimum viable product (MVP) needs to be understood, and attention should be paid to it throughout the project by the project management team (for more information, see the Business Case theme covered in Chapter 9, and also section 20.4.2).

An MVP for an online service may comprise a simple landing page describing the service. If an insufficient number of visitors show interest in the service then there is no point providing it.

Learn from experience

Many agile concepts support this principle and as many of them as appropriate should be used in order to provide the techniques for continual learning. Examples of this include shortening the feedback loop to the customer, continual customer involvement, inspect and adapt, retrospectives and Kaizen.

A retrospective may conclude that using 3-week sprints will be more productive than 2-week sprints.

Defined roles and responsibilities

Additional agile roles will apply at the delivery level and they should be mapped and merged carefully to the PRINCE2 roles (for more information, see the Organization theme, which is covered in Chapter 10).

A new project involves three teams from the customer area who all have differing needs from those of the project. Each of the teams will need to be clear who is fulfilling the project-level roles (e.g. senior user) and the delivery-level roles (e.g. product owner).

Manage by stages

Significant timeboxes such as releases should be carefully planned to integrate with, and fit into, management stages.

In situations of high uncertainty (e.g. creating something very innovative) many short stages can be used to ensure that control is maintained and a fail fast/learn fast environment exists.

A very expensive and unconventional marketing campaign is being delivered incrementally for a new perfume, which will take several months. The stage boundaries may only be 2 weeks apart to ensure that if the project does not turn out to be viable, the money lost by the project is kept to a minimum.

Manage by exception

Not only is it essential to use this principle and to ensure that it is implemented correctly but it is vital to see this as at the heart of empowering people to self-organize and stay in control with the appropriate level of governance when using PRINCE2 and agile together.

Working in an agile way places a greater emphasis on allowing tolerance on what is delivered and restricting the tolerance on time and cost.

A project is established to create a prototype to be demonstrated at a trade show on a specific date. They give the project manager 25% tolerance on the amount of scope to be delivered, but zero tolerance for the delivery date.

Focus on products

Product descriptions, quality criteria and quality tolerances can be prioritized and decomposed in order to make flexing what is being delivered possible and therefore make it easier to stay in control and focus on the delivery of value.

A major conference wants people to pay using a credit or debit card. They prioritize the need for the payment as a ‘must’, and further prioritize the credit card option as a ‘must’ and the debit card option as a ‘should’.

Tailor to suit the project environment

PRINCE2 Agile incorporates an agile assessment tool (the Agilometer – see Chapter 24), which enables further specific tailoring by assessing the risks associated with the agile way of working with respect to the project environment (e.g. How engaged is the customer? How easy is communication?).

A project is about to start and everyone is very excited about the months ahead. When assessing the project it transpires that a key customer representative is going to be on holiday for the next 4 weeks. The team decide to mitigate the risk of a reduction in customer involvement by using another person from another team during the missing weeks and creating a handover log to be updated throughout this period.

Table 7.1 Overview of the guidance when applying PRINCE2 principles in an agile context

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