In the world of project management, one size rarely fits all. On the one hand, businesses require the flexibility and adaptability to help projects evolve in response to changing requirements. At the same time, successful projects require a certain level of top-down strategy and control in order to maintain a focus on business goals, long-term aims, expenditure, and so on. Without this, projects can end up deprived of clarity, leading to drawn-out work, wasted resources, and a lack of perspective on whether the benefits of project amendments are even worth the cost.
To some, the need to mix agile project management with traditional control may seem a lost cause. Indeed, many project management frameworks focus on either one approach or the other. In practice, a number of companies have found themselves picking and choosing aspects of different frameworks as part of an informal combined approach, which can require a great deal of trial and error to get right.
In June 2015, AXELOS released ‘PRINCE2 Agile’, a standard which promised to combine flexible Agile project management with the traditional framework, PRINCE2. In other words, it would provide managers with a mixture of control, adaptability, and flexibility.
But just how necessary is this holistic blend of project management best practices? Moreover, with PRINCE2 Agile being so new to the party, why should an organization choose it over more well-established competitors?
Let’s take a look at the most important points to cover when selling PRINCE2 Agile to your organization!
The Best of two top-tier Project Management Frameworks
While PRINCE2 Agile is still a relative newcomer, the parts that make it up are anything but! PRINCE2 is the world’s most widely used project management framework, while Agile has been growing in popularity for years, with several frameworks like SCRUM and Kanban emerging from it. In short, both PRINCE2 and Agile have demonstrated their effectiveness across a range of industries, sectors, and locations.
PRINCE2 Agile itself is not simply the careless mashing together of these two approaches. Rather, it has them complement one another in order to create a more balanced approach overall. For example, PRINCE2 offers seven ‘Principles’ for project management best practices, including ‘Continued business justification’, ‘Define roles and responsibilities’, and ‘Manage by exception’. PRINCE2 Agile adds five new behavioral components more in line with Agile methodologies: ‘Collaboration’, ‘Transparency’, ‘Exploration’, ‘Self-organization’, and ‘Rich communication’.
Two Complementary Frameworks
Experienced project managers may be dubious about combining PRINCE2 and Agile. Many have claimed that the two either cannot work together, or that a combined framework cannot be applied to just any project regardless of size, characteristics, and so on.
This point of view overlooks the fact that PRINCE2 and Agile already share several similarities. For example, PRINCE2 encourages the ‘tailoring’ of the framework to make it more suitable for individual users, just as Agile encourages adaptability. The two also offer similar guidance on points such as having controlled beginnings and ends, well-defined roles and responsibilities, and so on.
The fact that the two frameworks are complementary is important. Indeed, many PRINCE2 Agile practitioners have commented that the combined framework essentially covers the use of PRINCE2 within an Agile context. The approach has also been extensively applied already, with the number of certified practitioners steadily increasing as more businesses adopt the framework.
After getting past the question of compatibility, you may be asking whether PRINCE2 Agile is suitable for your own organization and project types. All project managers are aware of just how widely projects can vary, even within the same business. Factors like stakeholder requirements, costs, risks, behavior, and so on can all fluctuate between and even during projects. With that in mind, is it even possible for a single framework to be universally suitable?
One of the biggest advantages offered by PRINCE2 Agile is that, rather than having a single approach that can be applied everywhere, it instead offers a framework that can be adapted to suit different project types. Its tools, advice, and best practices can be adapted for individual projects, provided you have a qualified and experienced practitioner as a guide.
Well-Managed Projects with Early Returns
Organizing changes within an active project can pose a number of challenges. On the one hand, there need to be significant strategic benefits to justify alterations, such as being able to better meet client expectations. At the same time, attempting to apply changes to an ongoing project can cause major disruptions, which can lead to delays, wastage, and client frustration.
In short, a certain level of adaptability can be helpful, provided your organization can accommodate it. This is where the ‘Agile’ nature of PRINCE2 Agile comes in handy. Agile project managers have always encouraged the use of smaller, iterative targets. Not only does this make it easier to implement changes, as long term plans do not need to be altered, but accomplishing these short term goals can also lead to immediate benefits for team members, stakeholders, and clients.
At the same time, the PRINCE2 side of things ensures that any changes are controlled in a way that keeps the flow of the project safe. Certain businesses are too large or are structured in a way that prevents them from implementing changes quickly and painlessly. Similarly, it can be easy for changes to spiral out of control, with too much focus on client needs and not enough on expenditure, timing, and so on.
By combining PRINCE2 and Agile, businesses can optimize their adaptability and enjoy iterative benefits without having to sacrifice too much control.
Streamlined and Clarified Projects
Clarity is an essential element of project management. When roles, responsibilities, and lines of communication are not properly defined, it can lead to significant confusion and delays. When problems occur, team members can be left pointing their fingers at one another rather than collaborating to solve problems at their source.
In PRINCE2 Agile, these elements are defined at the start of a project. Practitioners also share common knowledge of the terminology and practices of PRINCE2 Agile, making it easier for them to collaborate. Finally, Agile encourages increased autonomy for team members, allowing them to work with less management oversight. The clarity of PRINCE2 Agile supports this independence, enabling team members to complete essential tasks far more efficiently. To take full advantage of these benefits, many organizations will upskill several project team members at once.
Save Money with Online Training
One of the biggest sticking points when trying to sell a new standard to an organization is the difficulty of upskilling employees. This is not just in terms of the costs required to hire tutors, book accommodation, and so on, but also the drawbacks of having employees take time out of their work schedules and neglecting essential tasks.
Luckily, this hangup can be largely resolved with online training:
Access – Employees can access training materials from any internet-enabled device, including laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. This allows them to study whenever they have the time, rather than forcing them to keep to set appointments. Some may choose to study between meetings, during their daily commute, or even at home
LMS – A Learning Management System (LMS) helps students access and share training materials while also making it easy for managers to handle admin tasks. Crucially, it also allows managers to extract user performance metrics that can help them find learners that need additional support or highlight students who are way ahead of the curve
Reliability – When using different instructors, students can often get inconsistent learning experiences (with varying levels of quality). An online training course will offer the same experience to all students. At the same time, providers like Good e-Learning also offer world-class support to ensure that individual students can still get bespoke help when they need it
A Growing Framework
With the increasingly widespread usage of PRINCE2 Agile, it is easy to forget that it is still fairly young. However, it is still a major disruptor in the world of project management and has been tried and tested across an increasing number of companies and organizations.
What does this mean for your business? As the approach becomes more mainstream, more competitors will be taking advantage of it. In order to ensure that projects create an optimized level of value, a business must utilize an appropriate balance of control, flexibility, and adaptability. Achieving this synergy is what PRINCE2 Agile is all about, so it is important to not get left behind!