PRINCE2, SCRUM and Agile

PRINCE2 is often perceived as a methodology which lends itself to waterfall approaches only, but this is a huge misconception. PRINCE2 has all the flexibility and fundamentals built in to support Agile development. PRINCE2 and Agile are complementary, mutually supportive, and in June 2015 Axelos launched the PRINCE2 Agile best practice guidance.

If you are interested in PRINCE 2 Agile method specifically, you can take a look at:
What is PRINCE2 Agile
The PRINCE2 Agile Organization
PRINCE2 Agile - Stage vs Sprint

The below are some reflections and key integration point recommendations between PRINCE2, Agile and Scrum which are more straight to the point compared to what you typically would find in the PRINCE2 Agile curriculum.

First a couple of definitions:

Agile management or agile project management is an iterative and incremental method of managing the design and build activities.

Agile software developmen
t is a group of software development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams .

Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development

PRINCE2 (Projects in a Controlled Environment) is a structured project management method

As we can see from the definitions above, Scrum is a specialized subset of Agile. Below, we'll have a look at PRINCE2 combined with Scrum to keep it simple, but the principles can be generalized to be valid for PRINCE2 and Agile.

Some do the mistake of putting PRINCE2 and Scrum up against each other as if they were competitors. This is a big mistake as PRINCE2 is a project management method whereas Scrum is a development method used by teams. PRINCE2 says nothing about delivery methods. PRINCE2 has its strength at a higher abstraction level in the project like preparing start-up, focusing on governance and securing alignment between stakeholders. Scrum has its strength at the team level where development has to be done.

Before we move on and have a look at the specific integration of SCRUM and PRINCE2, let’s start with a reminder of the Agile Manifesto and the PRINCE2 Principles:

1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
2. Working software over comprehensive documentation.
3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
4. Responding to change over following a plan.

1. Continued business justification
2. Learn from experience
3. Defined roles and responsibilities
4. Manage by Stages
5. Manage by Exception
6. Focus on products
7. Tailor to suit the project environment.

There is nothing in the Agile Manifesto or the PRINCE2 Principles that stops them from working together. Before we look at ways of integrating them, it is usefull to understand the SCRUM roles.

Scrum defines three roles: Product Owner, Development Team and Scrum Master

Product Owner
The Product Owner represents the stakeholders and is the voice of the customer. He or she is accountable for ensuring that the team delivers value to the business. The Product Owner writes customer-centric items (typically user stories), ranks and prioritizes them, and adds them to the product backlog.

Development Team
The Development Team is responsible for delivering potentially shippable increments (PSIs) of product at the end of each Sprint (the Sprint Goal). A Team is made up of 3–9 individuals with cross-functional skills who do the actual work. The Development Team in Scrum is self-organizing.

Scrum Master
Scrum is facilitated by a Scrum Master, who is accountable for removing impediments to the ability of the team to deliver the product goals and deliverables. The Scrum Master is not a traditional team lead or project manager, but acts as a buffer between the team and any distracting influences. The Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum process is used as intended. The Scrum Master is the enforcer of the rules of Scrum, often chairs key meetings, and challenges the team to improve. The role has also been referred to as a servant-leader to reinforce these dual perspectives.

PRINCE2 Stage versus Scrum Sprint
The major portion of the Scrum process happens within the PRINCE2 "Managing Product Delivery" as explained in the Whitebook: PRINCE2 combined with Scrum. Here it is argued that a PRINCE2 stage can be one or several sprints where the stage's time tolerance is zero and tolerance is given on scope.

PRINCE2 and Scrum Integration Points
Rankings and Kearns paper on "Integrating PRINCE2 and Scrum for succesful new product development" summarizes these as the key integration points:

  • The Project Plan in PRINCE2 is a high-level plan covering the entire life of the project. Detail is developed in Stage Plans in a just-in-time manner. If Scrum is to be used for product development, then the Project Plan should include a preliminary Release Plan.
  • In developing Stage Plans, the Product Description of the final product of the Stage would now include details of the backlog to be addressed in developing this product.
  • The Work Package negotiated between Project Manager and Team Leader (or Scrum Manager) in a sprint planning meeting would now include details of the backlog to be addressed by the sprints covered by the Work Package, as well as completion criteria such as required quality criteria and quality reviews.
  • The development team will hold daily Scrum meetings, at which impediments to the team’s progress will be raised. While there is nothing to stop an impediment being raised at any time, the value of the daily standup meeting is that the Scrum Master will be aware of the impediment within no more than a 24 hour lag.
  • At a frequency determined by the Project Manager, the Scrum Master will provide a Burndown Chart to indicate progress to date against the expected team velocity.
  • At the completion of a sprint, the completed products would be returned to the Project Manager with whatever handover artefacts (such as proof of product quality) were specified in the Work Package.
  • In addition, at the end of each sprint, the team would conduct a Sprint Retrospective to review the current sprint for lessons learned to improve the conduct of future sprints.
  • The development team will record all impediments to their work recorded in daily scrums as issues.
  • Where an impediment cannot be resolved, the Project Manager will escalate it to the Project Board for resolution.
  • In assessing Stage status, the Project Manager will use the sprint and release Burndown Charts as one source of information for inclusion in Highlight Reports.
  • At the end of a Stage, the Project Manager will incorporate Sprint Review Reports into the End Stage Reports.
  • In planning the next Stage, the Project Manager will work with the Scrum Master and development team to allocate release backlog elements to sprints in the next Stage.

As a conclusion PRINCE2 offers great control at the project level. Scrum and Agile brings freedom and “agility” at the team level.

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