What is the difference between PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile?

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What is the difference between PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile?

PRINCE2® Agile is building on the success of PRINCE2 and becoming a popular Agile project management framework. But what exactly is PRINCE2 Agile®, and how does it differ from PRINCE2?

Here we address some of the issues and answer some popular queries.

PRINCE2® is one of the biggest project management accreditation success stories. The qualification has been recognised as the world’s most widely adopted project management method. In this blog, we take a quick look at PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 Agile®, and ask ‘What is the difference?’

The original PRINCE was developed as a UK government standard for IT projects. The big change happened when it was reborn as PRINCE2 in 1996. Now PRINCE2 is a generic project management method, suitable not just for public sector IT projects but projects across all sectors and for both public and private enterprises. The world was ready for the structure it offered, and by the end of 2012, more than 1 million candidates had taken PRINCE2 exams.

Scan any project management jobs pages and you’ll see that the exponential growth of PRINCE2 as a world standard didn’t stop there. It is now available in 9 languages and its popularity remains strong.

PRINCE2 Agile – a complementary evolution

In 2015, AXELOS launched PRINCE2 Agile. Complementary to PRINCE2, and able to be used alongside the older method. PRINCE2 Agile combines the rigour and framework of PRINCE2 with the flexibility and responsiveness that businesses increasingly need to remain competitive in a fast-changing world.

What is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 offers a scalable process with which organisations can control their projects, by dividing them into manageable stages. It creates vital connectivity across an organisation by using a common language, aligning processes and providing templates and structure. Within PRINCE2, there are 7 principles, 7 themes, 7 processes and the project environment itself. All of these are integrated to create an ecosystem where projects can succeed.

What has changed in PRINCE2 Agile and what has been lost?

The answer is nothing. All the principles, themes and processes of PRINCE2 remain. PRINCE2 Agile has combined what is now a worldwide industry standard project management method with a capability to be Agile. It brings together the worlds of project management and Agile delivery by offering a blend of rigour and flexibility. This creates a strong central spine for project management, one that can bend without breaking.

PRINCE2 Agile is framework agnostic in an Agile sense. It doesn’t align with any one Agile framework but offers an appreciation of agility. It acknowledges that setting up a project for success has as much to do with ‘being Agile’ as ‘doing Agile’. The controlled environment created by PRINCE2 principles, themes and processes have been complemented by five Agile behaviours.This means organisations can pivot and adapt, while retaining quality and controlling risk.

Focus on purpose

The danger with a method as successful as PRINCE2 has always been that compliance to the method can become an end in itself. PRINCE2 Agile has a strong focus on purpose, and tailoring documentation and control mechanisms to produce the required results. It encourages the right amount of documentation (Agilists would say aim for ‘just enough’ documentation) and encourages communication and collaboration. This new qualification highlights that completing document templates is not the goal, and cannot replace a focus on value, and prioritisation. A list of bullet points can add as much clarity and more impact as a more formal document.

Limiting the horizon

PRINCE2 Agile combats the issue of project managers being engulfed by the challenge of estimating activities and progress far into the project life cycle. By combining PRINCE2 with an Agile perspective, the method highlights the need to limit the planning horizon, planning in detail only for the near term where there’s more information and data available to keep the estimate accurate.

Innovation with corporate governance

The PRINCE2 Agile qualification offers a broad range of knowledge about Agile concepts and techniques including Scrum, Kanban and Lean Start-up principles. The governance structure of PRINCE2 that has been highly valued by corporates, can now be combined with, and balanced by, the means to encourage innovation, improve collaboration and empower teams to experiment, learn and deliver early value.

Responding to the needs of our volatile and disrupted world, it blends the structure, governance and control of PRINCE2 with Agile methods, techniques and approaches. The wonder is that nothing has been lost.

PRINCE2 has itself been Agile, has adapted and responded to its customers’ needs, and has offered a qualification that is the best of both.

You can find out more about PRINCE2 Agile and take the first step to qualifying as a PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner here.



Further Reading

  • 9 Tips for Passing Exams (2020 Guide)

  • MKC Supports City & Guilds with new Digital Learning Resources

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