PRINCE2 Agile 2016
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2.2 Agile basics

When combining PRINCE2 with agile it is important to know what agile is, otherwise an inconsistent view of the basics of agile will make combining the two difficult (e.g. if someone in an organization thinks that agile can only be used on the IT part of a project, whereas someone else thinks it can be applied across the whole project, then this will present a problem).

A basic view of agile could generally be seen as one or more of the following (see Figure 2.3):

  • using a timeboxed and iterative approach to delivering software
  • using a collection of techniques such as daily stand-up meetings, sprints and user stories
  • using the Scrum framework (see Table 2.1).
Figure 2.3 A basic ‘backlog’ and ‘sprint’ structure for delivering software

Figure 2.3 A basic ‘backlog’ and ‘sprint’ structure for delivering software

This is a very common structure used when working in an agile way for developing software. In simple terms, new features for a product are held in a prioritized list called the product backlog. The list may be made up of user stories, which are structured in a way that describes who wants the feature and why. The team that will build the features decides which items from the top of the product backlog they can create in a timeframe of typically 2-4 weeks (which is known as a sprint). The work that the team think they can achieve during the sprint is held in a list called a sprint backlog. Each day throughout the sprint, a meeting is held to assess progress. At the end of a sprint new features should have been created and they may go into operational use. The output (i.e. the new features) is reviewed along with the way the team worked to achieve that output.

Definition: Release

In PRINCE2 Agile, a release is typically a container for more than one low-level timebox (e.g. a sprint). This is not always the case as the act of releasing features into operational use may happen more regularly (e.g. after each sprint or several times during a sprint). The term ‘deployment’ is sometimes used in agile and has a similar meaning, although it is not used in PRINCE2 Agile.

This basic structure may exist within an overall approach that includes a vision, a product roadmap (which is a plan of how a product will evolve) and a series of releases (see Figure 2.4)

Figure 2.4 Sprints may exist within a wider context

Figure 2.4 Sprints may exist within a wider context

The two examples represented in Figures 2.3 and 2.4 provide a typical view of agile, although it is somewhat limited. A more comprehensive view would include:

  • IT and non-IT situations
  • large and small projects as well as routine ‘business as usual’ (BAU) tasks
  • flow-based working as well as timeboxing.

Further to this there also needs to be a wider mindset and a collection of behaviours that enable the agile way of working to thrive.

Definition: Flow-based working

This approach avoids the use of partitioning work into timeboxes and manages work by using a queue. Work is then continually pulled into the system (which may itself be a high-level timebox) and moves through various work states until it is done.

Further to this there also needs to be a wider mindset and a collection of behaviours that enable the agile way of working to thrive.

2.2.1 Agile frameworks

There is a family of frameworks (also referred to as methods or approaches) that are generally recognized as being agile. However, some are only applicable to IT situations. A summary of the most well known is shown in Table 2.1.

Tip

PRINCE2 Agile regards agile as a family of behaviours, concepts, frameworks and techniques.

Term Brief description

ASD (Adaptive Software Development)

(IT only). Iterative development process (Highsmith, 2000).

Crystal

(IT only). Iterative development method (Cockburn, 2001).

DAD (Disciplined Agile Delivery)

(IT only). An enterprise-wide scalable process framework described as ‘a process decision framework that is a people-first, learning-oriented hybrid agile approach to IT solution delivery’, that has ‘a risk-value delivery lifecycle, is goal-driven, is enterprise aware and is scalable.’ See http://www.disciplinedagiledelivery.com

DevOps

(IT only). A collaborative approach between development and operations aimed at creating a product or service where the two types of work and even the teams merge as much as possible.

DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method)/AgilePM

An agile project framework that focuses on the iterative delivery of business systems through the use of timeboxing and continual business involvement. It has a defined process and corresponding set of products, a set of roles that operate at all levels of a project, eight guiding principles and a collection of key techniques that can be used throughout a project.

FDD (feature-driven development)

(IT only). Iterative software development process focusing on features.

Kanban

A way to improve flow and provoke system improvement through visualization and controlling work in progress.

Lean

An approach that focuses on improving processes through maximizing value by eliminating waste (such as wasted time and wasted effort).

Lean Startup

Originally an approach to creating and managing start-up companies, but now applied to any business, to help them deliver products to customers quickly.

SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework)

(IT only). Large-scale application of agile across an organization. PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile could be used in SAFe where a piece of work is of a sufficient size or level of difficulty that it should be run as a project.

Scrum

An iterative timeboxed approach to product delivery that is described as ‘a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value’ (see Appendix H).

XP (eXtreme Programming)

(IT only). Iterative software engineering practice that can be used on its own but often exists in tandem with Scrum or Kanban, where XP covers the creation of the software and Scrum or Kanban is used as an overarching framework to control the work.

Table 2.1 The most well-known agile methods and approaches

2.2.2 Agile behaviours, concepts and techniques

Along with the agile frameworks there are a variety of behaviours, concepts and techniques that are seen as being part of the agile way of working. Examples are shown in Table 2.2 (some of which are defined in the glossary) but the table only provides a few illustrative examples of what is seen as agile. It is not a complete list and it is not necessary to be strict on the exact terms used (e.g. whether or not something is a technique or a behaviour).

Term Examples Similar terms

Behaviours

Being collaborative, self-organizing, customer-focused, empowered, trusting not blaming.

Principles, values, mindset

Concepts

Prioritizing what is delivered, working iteratively and incrementally, not delivering everything, time-focused, ‘inspect and adapt’. Kaizen. Limiting work in progress (WIP).

Fundamentals

Techniques

Burn charts, user stories, retrospectives, timeboxing, measuring flow.

Practices, tools

Table 2.2 Typical agile behaviours, concepts and techniques

PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile do not favour one agile approach over any other (this is sometimes referred to as being ‘agile agnostic’), and with due care and consideration, they can engage with agile in all of its many forms to provide a holistic project management approach that can be tailored to suit a wide variety of conditions and working environments.

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