PRINCE 2 and Agile Project Management

PRINCE2 is one of the most used project management methodologies, especially in European nations and the UK. It has grown to be a recognized feature in job specifications, some training is essential for any project role in an organisation using it.

Agile is a more recent methodology, its popularity is rising quickly because of its adaptability and flexibility. The use of Agile methods like Scrum are becoming implemented more and more in business environments. So in this article, we shall compare the two methodologies, in how they are similar and different.

PRINCE2 methodology

PRINCE2 heavily emphasizes the importance of processes, in management. It is all about starting the project, initiating it, continuing the management process with the given guidelines, and finally finishing the project to transfer it over to the normal business. It is best described as a linear methodology, going through the steps one by one.

PRINCE2 is a predictive, plan-based approach – it remains focused on the bigger goal throughout the project. The roles and responsibilities of the management team members are clearly described, and they are given the freedom to work towards the goal as they please. The processes are clearly defined and structured, and the main focus is upon the quality of the product. PRINCE2 can be altered to suit any project- and since it is planned extensively, it stays within the cost and time limits.

The main drawback associated with PRINCE2 is its rigidity. It is deemed unsuitable for the smaller projects or projects where the requirements change quickly. This difficulty in pivoting is partly due to the staggering amount of documents that have to be created and maintained throughout the project. It also does not micromanage much, and the decision-making processes involved are much longer than the Agile methods. Working products are not ready till the end of the project.

Agile methodology

Agile methods have been gaining immense popularity in recent times, primarily due to its flexibility and pivoting capability. Scrum is one of the most popular Agile methodologies, and here we shall compare Scrum to PRINCE2.

Scrum is a globally recognized Agile method, and many Fortune 500 companies have been known to use it. It is suitable for any project, even highly complex ones- it works by dividing up the complex aspects so that they can be easily managed.

Scrum focuses upon the execution of the project, rather than its management part. The methodology requires one to work closely with the clients, users and the stakeholders, so that their needs can be understood and incorporated within the project. It can be described as empirical process control, where constant feedback is obtained and fed into the system to make the product better.

Scrum is better than PRINCE2 methods in its adaptability. Agile projects are extremely responsive to pivots in the plan, and can easily accommodate major changes in the user or customer requirements. It works by implementing smaller, short-term increments on its way to the major business goal. Individual efforts are clearly visible in Scrum, unlike in PRINCE2 methods. Because of its collaborative nature, it is also ensured that the time available is used to at most effect.

However it is easier to lose sight of the bigger goals, since there is no clear definition of the project in Scrum. The employees might lose track of the project since the working style is intense- the frequent changes adding to the intensity. Scrum also requires convening on a daily basis to discuss the progress and implement any changes, if necessary. This can drain the available resources, and may turn out to be counter-productive to the project goals.

PRINCE2 and Agile methods can be implemented together if need be, as established by the PRINCE2 Agile method. This effectively combines the specificity and the rigid framework of the PRINCE2 methodology, with the adaptive and flexible approach that Agile is so renowned for.

Choosing your management methodology depends largely on the project requirements, and what the project hopes to achieve- so all the pros and cons of both methods have to be considered before selecting the suitable one for your project.