PRINCE2 Agile®: interview with the Lead Author
By Frank Turley
An interview with the lead author of PRINCE2 Agile, Keith Richards, by Frank Turley
Frank: Hi Keith, nice to talk to you. I’ve been wanting to do this interview for a while since I heard of PRINCE2 Agile and thanks for joining us.
Keith: No problem at all.
Frank: Great. So I got some questions for you. First of all Keith, how do you define agile?
Keith: That’s an excellent question, and a lot of the work that went into PRINCE2 Agile was actually about defining agile. The way it’s defined in PRINCE2 Agile is you’re like a family of frameworks, behaviors, concepts, and techniques. And the reason why we’ve done that in PRINCE2 Agile is because there’s no clear, single definition of what agile is and a lot of people see it differently. A lot of people point to the agile manifesto, but if you read the agile manifesto carefully, and I don’t mean pedantically, it’s very much about software and it’s actually about time-boxing and two weeks work packages. And really that excludes quite a lot of the agile family. That’s how PRINCE2 Agile has defined agile but it’s quite a complicated area.
Frank: Okay good, thanks for that. Now the big question is when is the release date for PRINCE2 Agile? That’s the date of the manual and certification date.
Keith: To my knowledge, and I have no reason to believe this is going to change at this late stage but it’s June 12th.
Frank: June 12th, okay so that’s when the manual will be available for download. Is that what you mean?
Keith: I don’t know if it’s downloadable, but it’s certainly being published, printed. You can buy it. Now, from a point of view of a training course, theoretically you could then train on that same day but the delegates wouldn’t have seen the manual if your training organization wants to have the manual given out for pre-readings. So maybe within a week or so you can actually start training in it.
Frank: Okay, good. Alright, thanks. What are the main benefits of PRINCE2 Agile to Prince?
Keith: A very important caveat you’ve put on the end there is actually to Prince. The whole concept of PRINCE2 Agile is to create an extension to PRINCE2, so it’s configuring, tailoring, adjusting PRINCE2 to run in an agile setting. The benefit is if you’re a PRINCE2 organization and you want to be more agile in the way you work, then this is the product for you. If you are encountering agile and you know PRINCE2 and you’re not quite sure how to combine with it and blend with it and react to it, then again that is what the product is aimed at. So it’s aimed at the PRINCE2 community and it’s how to run your projects in a more agile way and how to operate your projects in an agile context.
Frank: Okay, maybe just jump on then to the next related question on that. Can you use PRINCE2 Agile on its own or do you always need PRINCE2? How does it fit? Can you give me a picture of that?
Keith: Yeah. I think the best way is to say, and I don’t want to refrain. It’s almost the question doesn’t make sense, as in if you’re doing Prince, you’re doing Prince. And what PRINCE2 Agile is a way to adjust and configure PRINCE2 to operate in an agile context. Your question is valid and it’s often asked. It’s not a question of “do I put PRINCE2 on the side now and I run this different thing called PRINCE2 Agile?” That is not what you’re doing. You are still running Prince. One of the biggest findings and slightly surprising findings was that there is nothing that you need to remove from PRINCE2 to operate in an agile environment. It was quite an interesting moment when the team started to realize that PRINCE2 is already agile-enabled. It’s just a question of adding adjustments to it and tailoring so that it works in an agile context. There’s a very important point here, and that is that there was a rewrite of PRINCE2 in 2009 and what the team did, lead by Andy Murray and I think there was at least 100 people involved in that. What they did was make sure that PRINCE2 was agile-enabled. So they removed some of the blockers and problem areas with PRINCE2, such as there was no prioritization technique in there and such as it was very much focused on time and costs in terms of the tolerances. Now they did other things as well, but they smoothed out what are known as the aspects, so when you talk about things like time-cost-quality benefit, risk and scope, that they leveled those out to make them all equal, whereas if you go back to what was the red book in terms of PRINCE2, it was very much written in a time and cost focused way. I’m sure you’re aware when you’re working in agile, you fix time – over 2 weeks and 3 months or what have you – and you fix resources. PRINCE2 2009 was agile-enabled. So all we needed to do with this product was to play to the existing PRINCE2 and tailor it, configure it to run in an agile setting.