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I am new to Project management. My current position is helping to project manage a small software team. I have been giving the opportunity to attend the PRINCE2 course which from my reading I would be looking to use to combine with Agile methodologies. Will this approach work?

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  • Benk - while I agree with you comments on DSDM, the observation on common roots is very misplaced. DSDM came out of a set of commercial organisation in the early nineties who wanted to develop a framework for Rapid Application Development, and Prince2 originated from the UK Government, where the word rapid has yet to be discovered or understood. :) – Tom Peters Mar 9 '15 at 21:32
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My view is that Stephan is right in his response. Agile methods address components of the overall project, but the project should be about delivering the business benefits, not just the technical components. Prince 2 ensures that you have the right governance in place (otherwise how do you know whether the project is still viable?), and the right people directing the project (otherwise how do you know that you are delivering what the organisation needs, especially in times of business change?)

Prince 2 can be applied with a light touch: that is one of the key principles of the methodology. And if the project requires money to be spent, I suggest that this requires proper governance of the company's resources.

To try to put my response into context: If you are delivering a series of components, then you are managing products (in Prince terminology), whereas the overall project will be delivering business change and business benefits, including the implementation, training, and most importantly, mechanisms for benefit realisation.

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PRINCE2 is a rather formal methodology, while Agile is an opposite to formality. In order to combine them you should ask yourself - why are you doing this? What is the purpose of this combination?

I would suggest to use Agile since you're managing a small team.

Btw, this phrase is not valid: "project manage a team". You can "project manage a project" or "manage a team". Project is something that is bounded in time and scope. While "team" is a process.

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  • Thank you for your answer. Note taken with regards to the phrasing. Thank you. – Laura Feb 24 '11 at 16:43
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I would say that there is a conflict between the formality and requirements-driven nature of Prince2 and the just-in-time, flexible and iterative nature of Agile. Who wants you to attend the Prince2 course? Is a course available instead that would help with your understanding and implementation of Agile? Does the company you work for favour one approach above the other for their own business reasons?

Agile and Prince2 are generally used to manage different sorts of projects: in my experience agile is for fast results-driven market-critical projects where many changes and flexibility are paramount, whereas Prince2 is more often used for projects that need a high level of accountability and paper-trails for all decisions and many stakeholder sign-off and overview procedures.

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  • Thank you for your answer. The qualification is being offered by my company however was requested by myself. The company is relatively young and I felt lacked structure in its project process’s and team management. I researched various project methodologies and frameworks, including Agile and PRINCE2 and due to the pace and length of some of our projects I opted for PRINCE2 however, our software architect is now keen to explore Agile. – Laura Feb 24 '11 at 16:42
  • If it's structure you feel is lacking, you might also be interested in looking at Kanban, particularly wrt cadence and metrics. It's very similar to Agile methodologies. – Lunivore Dec 23 '11 at 12:09
  • @Lunivore Kanban is not similar to Agile. It is one of the key approaches within Agile. – Venture2099 Mar 12 '15 at 7:29
  • @Venture2099 I suspect DJA would disagree. The Kanban system is similar to Scrum, but the Kanban method is a change methodology; a meta-process, if you will. Nobody who was a signatory of the manifesto was using Kanban's explicit WIP limits at the time, and even now, very few Agile adoptions start with the existing processes as Kanban recommends. Most of what the Agile industry calls "Kanban" isn't, and most "Kanban" boards aren't. – Lunivore Mar 12 '15 at 9:50
  • @Lunivore - the Agile Manifesto does not describe the list of techniques considered Agile. Almost every Agile resource discussing the techniques considered Agile list Kanban as one of them. – Venture2099 Mar 12 '15 at 14:00
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Naturally. Agile methods like Scrum can be perfectly applied as the process for "managing product delivery" (Prince2 process group).

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You might be interested in DSDM Atern, which is an Agile methodology that is essentially Prince2-made-Agile. In fact, most training centres for Prince2 also run DSDM courses since they both share the same roots.

I've personally found DSDM to be brilliant around everything except the actual development process itself. I use Scrum to fill this hole, but the framework that DSDM provides wraps neatly around Scrum and provides all the checks and balances that my company requires.

As far as the development team are concerned, however, we only use Scrum. They don't even see or care about the DSDM wrapper that keeps the Business satisfied the project is under control.

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PRINCE2 and Agile are two different formalities. PRINCE2 is from OGC UK, which is a structured methodology for project management. For Agile, where the word express a discipline, implemented via, Scrum Methodology, XP etc is rather towards software development. You can use Scrum or Agile practices within the "Manage Product Delivery" process in PRINCE2. PRINCE2 should be your overall methodology to manage the project, but with in different phases you can use Agile or even traditional waterfall. PRINCE2 is for Project Management, Agile is for Team Management in this context.

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