Experience Report by Guest- Blogger Rowan Bunning
Rowan Bunning, CST and Agile Coach working for ScrumWithStyle, based in Australia, shares his extensive experience of working in environments, where PRINCE2 was implemented in its pure form, as well as attempted to be used in agile.
Below, are some of the most salient quotes from his Part 1 writing.
Please, refer to “PART1 – With PRINCE2 Agile, the victim is Agile“, for a comprehensive discussion of:
- “…Which would you rather your organisation were more like:
- the British Civil Service; or
- a product innovator capable of out-maneuvering a superpower’s market leaders?..”
- “…PRINCE2 is a very widely used project management method in the U.K., a number of European countries as well as Australia and New Zealand. Those in the U.S. might consider it to fill a space similar to the Project Management Institute’s PMBOK in those countries…”
- “…PRINCE2 Agile values:
- Processes and Tools over Individuals and Interactions
- Comprehensive Documentation over Working Software
- Following a Plan over Responding to Change…“
- “…PRINCE2 constrains ability to be Agile…”
- “…PRINCE2 Agile makes The Contract Game likely…”
- “…Like SAFe, PRINCE2 Agile wrappers Scrum which is contained to be exploited as just a “delivery” approach….”
- “…PRINCE2 Agile is still: Plan driven from Project Board down…”
Please, refer to “PART 2 – With PRINCE2 Agile, the victim is Agile“, for a comprehensive discussion of:
- Conflicting Roles
- Conflicting Roles and Accountability
- Conflicting with Development Team accountability
- Conflicting approach to project management
- Product Owner role misinterpreted and limited to tactical (if implemented at all)
- Product Owner role replaced with an SME or business analyst
Committee vs involved individual
- Committee based steering conflicts with Product Owner steering
- Decision making cycles overly long for meaningful agility
Progress reporting conflicts
- Organisation Design conflicts
- Not designed for Agile performance characteristics
- Conflicting use of project and product concepts
- Accommodating Agile adoption rather than improving it
- Compensating for and holding back Agile maturity
Experience Report by Guest- Blogger Geir Amsjø
Geir Amsjø, CST and Agile Coach working for Lean Venture, based in Oslo, Norway shares his thoughts:
PRINCE2 is very popular in IT in Norway – especially in government projects. I also believe it is widely used in Sweden and Denmark, but not in Finland. Even if development of PRINCE2 was funded by the UK government it would be pretty much abandoned there for public digitization because Government Digital Services wisely prefer and rely on Design Thinking and Agile these days.
PRINCE2 is probably one of the best Project Management frameworks for IT there is. It contains “stages” which, at a glance, may look similar to iterations. But PRINCE2 all about Management and Governance, while “following the plan” and very little about true adaptiveness. PRINCE2 is very prescriptive and heavy and contains a bunch of roles, documents, process steps and everything one would expect from a classic PM framework.
Many of my CSM/CSPO class participants have PRINCE2 certifications and they often tell me that it would be extremely hard to combine PRINCE2 with Scrum, or another agile framework, for the following reasons:
- There are a lot of committed up front planning, prediction and estimation
- Changes are not embraced but are rather regarded as exceptions and they need to go through cumbersome Change Control Board
- Decisions are hard to make on-the-spot, in a decentralized fashion. They need to be escalated up the chain of command for approvals and sign-offs
- Project Managers is viewed as the authority and can override teams’ decisions
I became curious about the new PRINCE2 Agile a couple of years ago, and attended a sales meeting from a training provider. As it was expected “Agile” was more slap-onto PRINCE2 itself, not a way to change the ladder.
Ironically, PRINCE2 Agile teaching contained all the right references and buzzwords, and it was very open to iterative approaches. It was clearly focused on learning and exploration. So far so good…
And I have had discussions with people who were quite satisfied with the Agile version of PRINCE2. There was no reason to doubt that PRINCE2 Agile could represented a big step in the right direction compared to the traditional version. But how on earth can it “be agile” if you put Agile on top of a heavy framework like PRINCE2? Would it not be like putting a lipstick on a pig?…
All heavy process descriptions lead to forming a certain mindset: “Please obey the procedures. Don´t think for yourself, because you don´t really own the problem.” This would be clearly incompatible with the agile mindset.
Experience Report by Guest-Blogger Kurt Nielsen
Kurt Nielsen, CST, of AgileLeanHouse in Denmark, shares some of his personal insight:
Remember that Prince2’s logo or mantra at the beginning was Plan-Delegate-Monitor-Control (sort the dark side of the force Plan-Do-Study-Act), it is not promoted these days, but that is what it is at the core, designed for compliance.
In that is a complete parallel to Leffingwell’s SAFe, the best orchestrated marketing gambit for years, selling people (well classic Management) what they want but don’t need. In our little pond (the Danish Market) we have lost significant territory to SAFe, the whole financial sector have jumped on that bandwagon. One of our largest customers (we lost them) did that with devastating effects on the Teams, I have met several staff members, who have just “headed for the Mountains”.
As Schwaber said about SAFe: “The empire strikes back!”, the hierarchy has a hard time changing, perhaps some of you would appreciate an article, we did here.
4 thoughts on “Prince 2 and Agile: any Relationship?”
I’m okay with people going with SAFe (and other such ”not really Agile” approaches). They experiment with it, and learn. If it’s a good thing for them, great. If they fail, well, they learn from that. Survival is optional. People like a well-marked road over exploration; especially when they don’t know what they are buying.
In longer cycles, the world will find better ways of working, because good solutions eat the less good ones. RUP was a very successful process back in its heyday (I thought it was good, back when I didn’t know nearly as much about software development as I do now). Where is RUP now? (Hint: it starts with S and ends with e)
So if there is need for backlash, it will come. Justice will be served, either way. I will continue to speak about what I believe is a good approach, and we’ll see how things will go :). History will show which side I will be.
Petri, I believe many (traditional, big) organisations will experience significant improvement by moving to SAFe or PRINCE2 Agile. Some will be satisfied and stop there. Problem in my experience is that employees are smart enough to spot the dissonance between the chosen model and real agile and get confused and frustrated.
Others might use these frameworks as a platform for further movement in the “right” direction.
I guess we will learn if “the good solutions will eat the bad ones” 🙂
Amazing post! Now I know the relationship of prince2 and agile, very informative!
Thank you for your comment(s). Correct, if we strip Prince-2 of ‘agile’ verbiage and ‘borrowed’ terminology, it gets close to PMI and SAFe teaching and away from agile. It is just fair to say and it has to be said.