At 338 pages, the PRINCE2 Agile book forms essential reading to any student wanting to learn how to combine the power, structure, and governance of PRINCE2, with the flexibility and responsiveness of agile ways of working.
The author of PRINCE2 Agile is Keith Richards, a leading Agile thinker in the UK, and an author of DSDM, one of the first agile methods, and an original signatory to the Agile Manifesto. Keith Richards is the founder of agileKRC, a leading provider of PRINCE2 Agile training in the UK.
Please note that the guidance contained within the PRINCE2 Agile manual is still applicable to PRINCE2 7th edition, the latest edition of PRINCE2 released in September 2023.
PRINCE2 Agile® (2018 3rd impression; UK: The Stationery Office; ISBN: 9780113314676).
PRINCE2 Agile structure
The PRINCE2 Agile book is well-structured, easy to read, and consists of 28 chapters, 8 appendices, and a glossary. Diagrams in the book are clear and easy to understand and are drawn in a stylish hand-drawn style.
Overall, the book is split into three parts.
- Chapters 1-6 describe a baseline of understanding about what agile is and what PRINCE2 Agile is.
- Chapters 7-23 is the main body of the manual where PRINCE2 is tailored to operate in an agile environment.
- Chapters 24-28 contain specific areas of information needed to provide more detail where PRINCE2 only provides basic information which is not really enough when needing to work in an agile context.
The remainder of the review will consider each of these 3 parts.
Part I (chapters 1-6)
This part is especially useful for readers not knowing much about either PRINCE2 or agile because it provides brief overviews of both. It also describes the rationale for blending PRINCE2 with agile.
The author explains that the many popular agile approaches (eg. Scrum) which have become ubiquitous in many industries are development methods or approaches, not project management methods or approaches. They focus on agile ways of working such as iterative development, fast feedback loops, just-in-time planning, and timeboxes such as sprints. They do not focus on the business justification for the project, nor do they consider the wider aspects of the project context.
Hence, PRINCE2 Agile is the synthesis of the two – the best of both worlds. That’s the power and control of the PRINCE2 project management methodology with the flexibility of agile approaches at the team level.
The author also explains one of the key concepts within PRINCE2 – that of tolerances. These are targets which can be set as a range and give a project manager or team manager room to manoeuvre when things don’t go according to plan. He then goes on to explain how the two tolerance areas which are flexible in PRINCE2 Agile are scope and quality, whereas these are often seen as fixed in a waterfall project management approach.
For people who are new to agile, this part of the book is also useful because the author provides explanations and definitions of popular agile tools such as stand-ups, retrospectives, burn charts, and sprints.
Chapter 6 provides a valuable and detailed description of fixing and flexing the 6 performance targets in PRINCE2. The concept of fixing time and cost, whilst being flexible about the scope and quality of what is delivered is crucial to PRINCE2 Agile. The chapter explains the rationale behind fixing and flexing with a description of the five targets in PRINCE2 Agile.
Part II (chapters 7-23)
This part describes the approach required to tailor the PRINCE2 principles, PRINCE2 practices (used to be called themes), PRINCE2 processes, management products, and roles and responsibilities. The author explains what considerations are needed when using agile, and what specific behaviours and techniques should be applied at any particular time.
Chapter 7 describes the PRINCE2 principles and the five PRINCE2 Agile behaviours that underpin the ways of working of teams applying PRINCE2 Agile.
The chapters in this part include one chapter per theme, and one chapter per process, with the exception of the two processes performed at the start of the project.
This part will be particular important for students taking PRINCE2 Agile training because a lot of the course content is taken from this part of the book.
Part III (chapters 24-28)
This part describes the particular areas of focus in PRINCE2 Agile. This section is likely to be most important to students who don’t come from, or work in, an agile environment. For experienced agile practitioners, much of this part will already be familiar, for example chapter 27 which covers rich communication, for example low-tech information radiators, or chapter 27 which covers frequent releases.
The appendices will form a rich and valuable source of guidance for students, whether seasoned agile practitioners or not. They cover outlines of the 26 management products, roles and responsibilities within a PRINCE2 Agile project, and a health-check to check the health of your project.
There is also a summary of the agile principles and principles and core values of the major agile methods. There is advice for project managers using agile, and a definite guide to Scrum.
With a comprehensive glossary of PRINCE2 Agile, a product-based planning example, and a discussion about what constitutes success when transitioning to agile, the book provides a plethora of good practice and guidance to anyone using PRINCE2 in an agile context.
It also serves as an excellent resource for people wanting to learn more about agile and is also a vital resource for anyone wanting to get a PRINCE2 Agile certification.