PRINCE2 Meets Agile PM

A question that I’ve been asked with increasing frequency lately is that of the relationship between PRINCE2 and Agile project management. I’ve always advocated a marriage between the two, but this often leaves people confused to begin with. PRINCE2 is about rigour and structure, they say, while Agile emphasises adaptability - aren’t they at odds with one another?

Well, the short answer is: no.

The first problem that people make from the start is in comparing the two approaches. PRINCE2 and Agile aren’t alternatives to one another - they’re both focussing on different aspects of the overall process.

PRINCE2 is a framework, a structure that helps you form your project, but says very little about the actual process of developing the product. Agile, on the other hand, focuses on exactly this development. This way, Agile really does complement PRINCE2, fleshing out aspects of the process that the latter covers largely in broad strokes.

Of course, there is crossover - the two approaches aren’t completely separate, but looked at in the way outlined above, you can make the most of the benefits of each.

In fact, since I’ve been advocating the use of both, I see either approach on their own as somewhat incomplete - neither tells the whole story, but with a combination of the two, we can get close to doing exactly that.

The other problem I have is with people’s characterisation of PRINCE2 as overly rigid or restrictive. While PRINCE2 does advocate rigorous planning and structuring of the project and the team, how you actually apply to associated principles is, ultimately, up to you. There is a lot of emphasis in PRINCE2 on adjusting how you apply the framework, scaling it up or down depending on the scope of your project, for example.

As with many things, there are several roads leading to the top of the project management mountain, but you’d do well to straddle these two as you climb.

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