PRINCE2 Agile focus areas

When merging the agility and adaptability of agile methodologies with the structured governance of PRINCE2, the five distinct focus areas become indispensable.
PRINCE2 Agile focus areas

Introduction to the five focus areas

When merging the agility and adaptability of agile methodologies with the structured governance of PRINCE2, the five distinct focus areas become indispensable. These focal points are the linchpins that bridge agile responsiveness with PRINCE2’s robust governance framework.

Each of these five focus areas plays a vital role in PRINCE2 Agile and their significance is listed later in this article.

These focus areas help to ensure that projects are not just executed, but are managed effectively, adapting to changes without compromising the initial vision. They also help to ensure there is flexibility in delivery. While ensuring adherence to guidelines, these focus areas also ensure there’s enough leeway to accommodate the dynamic nature of agile projects. They also help in aligning the versatility of Agile with the stringent processes of PRINCE2, ensuring one complements the other.

As you dig deeper into PRINCE2 Agile, these focus areas act as beacons, guiding your project towards its goals while ensuring agility and governance go hand in hand.


The Agilometer is a specialized tool in PRINCE2 Agile that evaluates how ready an environment is for agile implementation.

Why it matters

Every project has its own unique attributes, be it trust between customer and supplier, the technological tools at hand, or the unpredictability of outcomes. Hence, tailoring PRINCE2 to resonate with these unique characteristics is paramount.

Car analogy

Consider you’re piloting a vehicle, loaded with advanced features to ensure a smooth ride. Yet, the decisions made by the driver—in response to the terrain and traffic—play a pivotal role. The Agilometer acts similarly for projects, helping gauge conditions upfront to drive project success.

Assessing suitability

Agile suitability isn’t a one-off check. Instead, it’s examined periodically—predominantly pre-project and during the initiation stage. The insights gained are then incorporated into the project brief and the project initiation documentation to provide the project board with an understanding of potential risks and benefit.

The Agilometer evaluates six areas, soliciting feedback from primary stakeholders to gauge each area. Each area should stand on its own merit without the need to draw an average score.

Beyond numbers

The beauty of the Agilometer lies in its ability to spot the potential risks and benefits of adopting agile. A beneficial way of using it would be to ask questions such as, “our teamwork score is low; how can we improve it?” Instead, if we merely state, “our average score is 3.9, so we’re good to go with agile,” doesn’t offer any value when understanding how ready the organization is to use Agile. Averaging the scores is might also obscure valuable insights so this should not be done.

Spectrum of agility

Adopting agile isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Building a nuclear submarine and crafting a new chocolate flavour require different agile approaches. PRINCE2 Agile champions this by highlighting what needs consideration and offering potential strategies. It acknowledges that projects aren’t mere duplicates of one another but can be considered unique entities on a spectrum of agility.

If a project’s conditions seem too risky for agile, the Agilometer might hint at exploring alternatives. This might happen mid-project, necessitating an exception situation. Using the Agilometer in PRINCE2 Agile isn’t about gaining yes-no decision about using agile but is about exploring, “how much agile can we use?”


This focus area describes the methods to identify and rank requirements. PRINCE2 Agile interprets requirements from multiple perspectives:

  • ‘User stories’, ‘product descriptions,’ and ‘requirements’ are often used interchangeably and usually point to the same things.
  • Terms such as function, feature, user story, requirement are often used synonymously within the PRINCE2 and agile communities, although they might not refer to the same thing.
  • Requirements can either describe what the product does (functional) or how effectively it does it (non-functional).

Requirements in agile

In agile, requirements are the ‘currency’ of agile teams. The focus of the team is about trading requirements, rather than managing time and cost.

Defining good requirements is crucial because they ensure the accurate description of the product. Requirements definition requires relevant technical skills and often uses techniques such as interviews and process modelling.

When blending PRINCE2 with agile, product descriptions are used to capture requirements. These should evolve over time. Writing just the right amount of detail at different points during their development is important to avoid misunderstandings, rework, delays, and frustrations.

Defining requirements at the right level

Ensuring that requirements are defined at the right level is key. To achieve this a three-step process and be performed, with high, medium, and detailed requirements being defined at the pre-project, initiation, and delivery stages.

Prioritising requirements

Continual prioritisation of deliverables is essential in PRINCE2 Agile. Two common agile prioritisation approaches are MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Won’t have) and ordering using numbers (1, 2, 3 … n). The choice of prioritisation approach depends upon the level of uncertainty of the work, with MoSCoW often being the default approach.

To decide if a requirement is a ‘must have’, you can ask if the product will still work without it. Some features may be ‘Must have’, others not, and there might be alternatives for ‘Should have’ and ‘Could have’ features.

Dealing with changes

Change happens on all projects. In PRINCE2 Agile there are two types of change: detail change and baseline change. Changes that result in refinements to the final product are positive, but changes that affect the project product description inevitably impact the project’s baseline. Avoiding scope creep requires proper project governance and quality criteria to be defined as a spectrum, rather than as a binary condition.

Regularly prioritizing requirements is a key aspect of agile methods. Prioritisation is about ‘maximizing the amount of work you are not doing’, which allows a team to meet deadlines, maintain the quality of the deliverables, and adapt to changes for a better final product.

Rich communications

The rich communications focus area targets common communication challenges on projects and focuses on the most effective conduits of information among project stakeholders. Rich communication is also one of the five PRINCE2 Agile behaviours.

Diverse communication types

Communication isn’t monolithic. It spans a spectrum from a simple email alerting team members of a meeting to intricate discussions about performance challenges. The mediums are just as varied—emails, phone calls, video calls, face-to-face meetings, and more. This diverse ecosystem of communication often follows the DIKW (data, information, knowledge, and wisdom) hierarchy, transitioning from raw data to insightful wisdom.

Successful communication

There are several considerations to successful communication.

Right method and timing

Not every message is fit for every medium. Choosing the right channel at the right time is imperative. A co-located team might find face-to-face interactions sufficient, but a dispersed, diverse team could need a blend of communication methods.

Clarity & efficiency

PRINCE2 Agile places a premium on unambiguous, efficient communication. While a written document might be apt for technical specifications, face-to-face communication, especially enhanced by visual aids, proves potent for understanding context and emotions.

Overcoming barriers

Complex projects often entail intricate communication webs. Here, prioritization becomes crucial—opting for direct calls over emails or in-person meetings over mere calls.

Leveraging technology

In our digital age, there’s a plethora of tools designed to streamline communication. Be it collaboration tools, webcams, or agile boards, they can significantly boost communication efficiency.

Formal vs. informal

Every project demands a mix of formal and informal communications. Understanding the context—when to have a quick chat versus when to draft a formal document—is pivotal. These norms and guidelines, encompassing the nature, frequency, and formality of communication, should be articulated in the communication management approach.

The project’s lifeblood is its communication. PRINCE2 Agile recognizes this and emphasizes fostering an environment where information flows seamlessly, barriers are identified and addressed, and every stakeholder feels heard and informed. Ensuring these can significantly elevate a project’s chances of success.

Communication efficiency

In the context of project management, communication efficiency refers to how effectively and swiftly information is conveyed among stakeholders. It’s not just about passing a message but ensuring the recipient fully understands and can act on the conveyed information.

Spectrum of communication methods

Modern project teams have a plethora of communication tools at their disposal:

Written documents

Often used for specifications, requirements, or detailed instructions.


Useful for notifications, updates, and formal communications.

Instant messaging

Great for quick queries, clarifications, and real-time discussions.

Visual illustrations

Diagrams, charts, and other visuals can make complex ideas more understandable.

Verbal exchanges

Calls or face-to-face interactions allow for a more personal touch, gauging reactions and ensuring clarity.

Efficiency in communication

For PRINCE2 to be at its most effective, communication has to be optimized. This means:

Selecting the best medium

Depending on the nature and urgency of the message, teams should choose the most appropriate method. Quick clarifications might be best suited for instant messaging, while intricate design discussions benefit from face-to-face interactions.

Leveraging face-to-face interactions

There’s a richness in face-to-face communication that’s hard to replicate. When supplemented by visual aids—like charts, diagrams, or prototypes—it becomes an invaluable tool for ensuring mutual understanding.

Embracing the team room

The concept of a team room in PRINCE2 Agile underpins the importance of co-location. An environment where team members can quickly discuss, debate, and decide, without the lag of digital tools, is highly beneficial. This setting promotes spontaneous discussions, brainstorming sessions, and collaborative problem-solving.

Efficient communication is a cornerstone of successful project management. In PRINCE2 Agile, it’s not about using every available tool, but about choosing the best channels for each context. By focusing on this, teams can navigate the complexities of projects with clarity, cohesion, and a shared understanding.

Communication hurdles

In complex projects, the sheer number of stakeholders, varied teams, and myriad interactions can lead to significant communication hurdles. When messages get delayed, misconstrued, or lost entirely, the overall project health can deteriorate.

Given the potential challenges of communication, teams communicate best when communication is faster, and face-to-face. Faster modes like phone calls are better than waiting for email responses. It’s about reducing the time lag between a question and its answer. Also, whenever feasible, prioritize in-person discussions. The nuance of face-to-face conversations can clarify ambiguity more efficiently than written communication.

Leveraging technology


In today’s remote-first work environment, webcams bridge the gap between digital communication and face-to-face interactions. They allow for more personal and interactive discussions.

Collaboration tools

Platforms that enable real-time editing, commenting, and task tracking can be invaluable in keeping the project team aligned and informed.

Communication formality

Communication can be both formal and informal but it’s essential to clarify:

Informal channels

For swift, iterative feedback or brainstorming.

Formal documentation

For decisions, especially those with implications on project scope, resources, or timeline.

Establishing a communication management approach

Given the project’s complexity and the potential for communication hurdles, it is important to define what messages are crucial, who should receive them, and in what form. This requires determining how often different stakeholders should be updated, which can vary from daily stand-ups to weekly summaries or monthly reviews.

It also requires consideration of the level of formality. Not all communication needs to be documented formally. Decide on which decisions or updates require official documentation.

Information radiator

This is an Agile concept where important information is displayed visually for the team to see. It could be a physical board or a digital dashboard, showcasing the communication guidelines, current project status, and other crucial metrics.

Effectively managing communication in a PRINCE2 Agile project is akin to navigating a complex maze. With a strategic approach, clear guidelines, and the right tools, teams can avoid pitfalls and ensure that messages are consistently clear, timely, and impactful.

Regular releases

In the agile world, frequent releases are of paramount importance. PRINCE2 Agile merges the defined structure of PRINCE2 with the flexibility of agile, emphasizing the necessity of regular product releases to capture a myriad of benefits. To release regularly requires the team(s) deliver on time and hit deadlines.

Benefits of regular releases

Early benefits

By delivering product increments regularly, customers start reaping the benefits sooner than with traditional models.

Feedback loop

Constant delivery allows for quicker feedback, aiding in product improvements and pivots.

Risk reduction

Regular releases can quickly validate or invalidate assumptions, thereby reducing the risk of investing more time in undesired or flawed features.

Stakeholder engagement

Consistent visibility and deliveries keep stakeholders engaged and assured of project progress.

Streamlined process

With repeated releases, the process becomes smoother, reducing the release-associated overheads over time.

Planning for regular releases

When planning for regular releases consider the following.

Feature-based approach

Instead of traditional phase-based deliveries, agile emphasizes delivering based on features and requirements.


During project initiation, it’s vital to break down the product into deliverables and strategize which parts can be delivered early to harness maximum benefits.

Release backlogs

Projects with numerous releases or frequent content changes might benefit from associating products with a release backlog.

Alignment with PRINCE2 plans

Ensuring that release planning integrates into PRINCE2 plans is important. The project plan and all stage plans should factor in the release strategy.

Lean Startup considerations

The Lean Startup approach introduces an additional dimension by emphasizing ‘fast failure’ and product viability. This strategy can accelerate feedback and enable quicker responses to market needs.

Deciding the release cadence

While a consistent release cadence is ideal, the project stakeholders must strike a balance to ensure the customer is not overwhelmed and can digest the benefits of each release.

Operational implications

Though every release ideally would be operationalized immediately, certain organizational dynamics, contractual obligations, or stakeholder needs might cause delays.

Frequent releases encapsulate the essence of agile methodologies, driving early benefit realization and stakeholder engagement. PRINCE2 Agile recognizes and integrates these advantages, ensuring that projects not only have structure and governance but also harness the flexibility and responsiveness of agile approaches.

Creating contracts

Agile promotes a collaborative ethos, with shared risks between stakeholders, which may clash with the rigid structure of conventional contracts. PRINCE2 Agile projects, therefore, must choose between these two paradigms or find a hybrid solution.

Traditional contracts

Traditional contracts often suffer from inherent rigidity. These contracts often dictate specific outputs with exacting requirements, a set timeframe, and a fixed price. These contracts tend to be resistant to changes, even if they’re necessary or beneficial, leading to renegotiations and potential price inflations.

Embracing change

Agile sees changes as opportunities rather than setbacks. Any shift that aligns better with client needs or adds value is considered positive. Instead of a rigid, output-focused contract, agile encourages a more collaborative approach where the solution is continually optimized to maximize value.

Trust & collaboration

Trust plays a key role in determining who shoulders the risks associated with unexpected challenges or changes. Trust and collaboration levels can be influenced by past interactions. A longstanding provider-client relationship may have a different dynamic than a new one.

Adapt existing frameworks for Agile

Rather than reinventing the wheel, organizations can tweak existing contractual frameworks, like master agreements, to be more agile-compatible. Changes might be required in lower-level agreements, such as the Statement of Work (SOW), to suit agile workflows.

Advantages of Agile-compatible contracts

There are many advantages of agreeing more agile contracts.

Outcome over output

Focus on the project’s broader benefits and value rather than strict deliverables.

Client involvement

Define clear expectations regarding the client’s engagement, ensuring a cohesive collaboration.

Time-based deliverables

Establish deliveries in terms of sprints or releases, offering the client clearer insights into project progress.

Early termination provision

Offer clients the flexibility to end the project early if initial outcomes indicate an undesirable direction.

Incentive alignment

Base incentives on deliverables, with full compensation for complete deliveries and a scaled approach for partial ones.

Broad requirements

Avoid excessive detailing in the contract, allowing for the product’s organic evolution during the project.

Requirement prioritization

Deliver the most crucial requirements first, using less important ones as buffers to ensure quality and timeliness.

Requirement trading

Accommodate new requirements by swapping them for existing ones.

Flexible clauses

Depending on the trust level, a minimalist contract can be expanded upon when necessary.

Agile contracting aims to promote beneficial behaviours, focusing on outcomes rather than solutions. When paired with PRINCE2 Agile, it encourages a proactive response to change to maximize value within a set timeframe. The contract should, therefore, be a tool that supports this goal, emphasizing value delivery and adaptability.

Summary of the five focus areas

When implementing PRINCE2 Agile and understanding of these five focus areas will help ensure its successful execution. Together they form the foundations for effective communications, clarity about requirements, better risk management, and frequent delivery of value.

They also help create agile-friendly contracts which focus on building a shared understanding and collaborative approach towards changes and shared risk ownership. In turn, they help to build a more responsive and successful project management environment.

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