6 What to fix and what to flex?
Of the many ideas, concepts and techniques that exist within PRINCE2 Agile, one of the most important is that it focuses on flexing what is being delivered, as opposed to focusing on flexing time and cost or flexing time and resources.
However, it is not enough just to understand how to flex what is delivered; it is essential to understand why.
Historically, the competing constraints on a project have often been shown graphically as a shape such as a triangle with constraints of time, cost, quality, etc. pulling against each other. PRINCE2 does not have such a limited view of the variables on a project, as it identifies six ‘aspects’ that need to be controlled and managed: time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefit.
PRINCE2 does not place emphasis on any of these aspects over and above the others. It sees them as equally significant and to be managed according to the needs of a particular project.
However, PRINCE2 Agile does define what to emphasize by giving guidance on the use of tolerance levels (i.e. permissible deviations from what is planned) for the six aspects in terms of which should be fixed and which ones should vary (or flex) (see Table 6.1).
In PRINCE2, tolerance is the permissible deviation above and below what has been planned, with respect to the six aspects of a project (i.e. time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefit). Whenever any of these tolerances are forecast to be exceeded an exception will occur. It is not that fixed aspects can never flex, but they have tolerances set to zero and would be subject to management by exception if these were expected to be exceeded.
Zero tolerance for extra time on all levels of plan
Zero tolerance for extra cost on all levels of plan
Not all acceptance criteria and quality criteria are of equal importance, so they can be prioritized.
Project product description
Zero tolerance for the customer’s quality expectations and acceptance criteria that are essential.
Tolerance may be used for the customer’s quality expectations and acceptance criteria that are desirable but not essential.
Product descriptions (in general)
Zero tolerance for the quality criteria that are essential.
Tolerance may be used for the quality criteria that are desirable but not essential.
Fix and flex
Not everything the project aims to create is of equal importance, so they can be prioritized.
Zero tolerance for products that are essential.
Tolerance may be used for products that are desirable but not essential.
Fix and flex
Tolerance to be defined according to the needs of the project board and project manager as this depends on the specific situation.
Fix or flex
Zero tolerance for the level that is defined as ‘minimum viability’ in the business case.
Tolerance may be used above the level that is defined as ‘minimum viability’ in the business case.
Fix or flex
Table 6.1 How PRINCE2 Agile views tolerances for the six aspects of a project: fix or flex?