To listen to some Agile ‘evangelists’ you would think that PRINCE2® was dead, long live the king. But anyone with project management experience knows that Agile has a lot of weaknesses and PRINCE2 has a lot of strengths.
Every time I read some learned article about Agile, it is not long before I come upon the phrase ‘software development’. This is the area from which Agile came, and it hasn’t left it far behind yet. I talked to a project manager in a hospital in India, who enthused about Agile and is ability to absorb changes until very late in the project. In fact, it became clear that the IT project did not have an ending, and was now a rolling, continuous enhancement of the original requirements, i.e. a project with no end. So if you are going that way, you need a new look at how you justify a project, create a project plan, create a budget for it, and so on. It can be done, but it needs a different outlook by senior management to get such a project off the ground. Very easy to ‘have a tiger by the tail’.
If you are not sure of the requirements at the start of a project or you don’t know how to solve a need, many say that this lends itself to Agile, because you can run iterations around various possibilities before you decide on the direction. But feasibility studies have been with us for a long time, much longer than Agile, and their purpose is – as it says on the tin – to have a look at what is feasible and choose from a number of solutions. Much easier to plan a feasibility study and it comes to a clear end. Picking up the chosen solution, you have a much better chance of assessing the cost and time required to build the chosen solution.
Even if you wish to argue about the above, to me there’s no argument about the excellent way in which PRINCE2 tackles risk and quality. I also like the way that PRINCE2 provides role descriptions, far more precise than in Agile, and product descriptions of all the management products. You may wish to transfer some of these to an Agile information radiator.
About the Author:
Colin Bentley started in data processing in 1965 with English Electric-Leo-Marconi, rising to chief programmer. He moved to IBM in 1969 as a development manager. He moved to be a Director of Simpact Systems in 1975, working on the development of the PROMPT II project management method, the predecessor to PRINCE.
He has written over twenty books on project management and authored the original PRINCE2 manual. He was Chief Examiner for PRINCE2 for eleven years until 2009 when he retired. Before his retirement his clients included The Stock Exchange, Tesco, NHS in Northern Ireland, the BBC, Microsoft and Ordnance Survey.