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PRINCE2 a dish best served agile?

What's cooking good looking?

PRINCE2 Agile®, dovetailing agile solution delivery into a wider project management view, proves to be serving up a real dish, promoting agile behaviours, concepts, frameworks and techniques within the more controlled and traditional project delivery of PRINCE2®.

Agile, how much or how little, can be applied according to the given project.

The combination of strong agile concepts SCRUM and Kanban .. two essential ingredients combined with the tantalising flavours of a traditional project management framework, are proving to be a menu item not to be missed. SCRUM is the most popular agile framework in the world and describes the use of roles, communication and various tools that help agile project teams manage their work. Kanban provides teams with visual tools and practices to manage workflow effectively and ensure that the project is (crucially with agile) delivered ‘on-time.’

So what could this look like to your project?

Agile puts a lot of emphasis on the way that the team should work. They need to be empowered to fulfil their assigned roles effectively and so be able to self-organise. They need to remain stable and be able to make most of the decisions about the outputs of the project so as not to hinder the objective of a timely delivery . For PRINCE2 Agile®, the work package (a PRINCE2® term) is the link between project management and product delivery and so is the part of the project that needs to knit the approaches together. How it all works will depend on the project itself. It is important to remember however, that they are not used in the running of the project itself, this is down to the PRINCE2® stages.

PRINCE2 Agile® will generally kick in after the Project Initiation Document (PID) has been produced and the teams need to get to work.

Here we take a quick look at how both these agile ways of working can be used within the PRINCE2® environment.

Kanban. More than just a specials board!

Many of us think of Kanban in terms of the well-known Kanban board. A valuable and user-friendly tool within the project or ‘business as usual’ environment. But it is also much more than that. Using the Kanban board helps to limit the number or work items in circulation, making delivery of products much more manageable for teams.

There are six core practices that make up Kanban as follows:

1. Visualise the Workflow, the Kanban board

This tends to be the first Kanban practice that teams adopt and is shown as a simple grid displaying the different status of work items. Swim lanes can also be used to display similar types of work. AKA: The Kanban Board.

2. Limit Work In Progress

This gives the team more focus and speeds up workflow rather than them dealing with a huge network of tasks at any one time. Work can be ‘pulled’ to the work in progress only when there is allowed capacity.

3. Manage Flow

This needs to be a constant assessment of the workflow so that products are delivering value as soon as possible and problems that cause blockages are transparent.

4. Explicit Policies

Teams need to be empowered and self-organised. There needs to be guidelines that are agreed upon and lived by the project team.

5. Feedback

Kanban provides a variety of forums for feedback in order that it is effective and delivered quickly. The first two are mostly applied to projects.

• The stand-up meeting

• The service delivery review

• Risk review &

• Operations review.

6. Improvements

Improving processes and ironing out problems is everyone’s business!

SCRUM our most popular agile dish

The SCRUM guide is reproduced within the PRINCE2 Agile® guide. SCRUM has four formal events for inspection and adaptation which are Sprint Planning, Daily SCRUM, Sprint Review and the Sprint Retrospective.

These events happen regularly and every event has a maximum duration. They force transparency and offer many opportunities to inspect and adapt. The ‘Sprint’ is at the heart of it all. Roles are specifically important in SCRUM. There are 3 essentials: Product Owner, the Development Team and a SCRUM Master.

The ‘Product Owner’ is responsible for maximising the value from the work and managing the product backlog. This is a list of prioritised product features that may be made up of ‘user stories’ - who wants the features and why.

The ‘Development Team’ consists of professionals who produce a potentially releasable increment at the end of each Sprint. It is important that the team are empowered and self-organised so they can adapt to the change and that the team stays stable through the course of the project.

The SCRUM Master is responsible for ensuring that the SCRUM Team adheres to SCRUM theory and artefacts.

The SCRUM artefacts are:

The Product Backlog: our prioritised product feature list mentioned earlier.

The Sprint Backlog: is the set Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint in question. This includes a plan for delivering the product ‘increment’ and realizing the Sprint goal.

An Increment is the sum of all of the Product Backlog items completed during a Sprint and the value of the increments of all of the previous Sprints.

The definition of ‘Done’ means that the outputs must be in a usable condition by the end of a Sprint regardless of whether the Product Owner decides to actually use it.

What we have detailed here doesn’t really even cover the hors d'oeuvres on the menu.

PRINCE2 Agile® specials also include : relative estimating, including a dash of story points and velocity measurements. And just to finish on a sweet desert of burn down charts and information radiators .... What's not to love?

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