Introducing targets in PRINCE2 Agile
PRINCE2’s transformation to suit agile frameworks is deeply rooted in the ‘fix and flex’ approach, applied to its six performance targets: time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits. This approach isn’t merely an addition; it represents a marked departure from conventional PRINCE2 thinking, introducing a more adaptable and responsive method.
The logic of five targets
The essence and reasoning behind the ‘fix and flex’ approach are encapsulated in five distinct targets within PRINCE2 Agile. Each target is carefully crafted, bearing in mind the fluid nature of agile projects and the need for continuous adaptability.
In this article, we’ll explain into the rationale behind these five targets, offering insights into the transformative power of the PRINCE2 Agile approach.
Be on time and hit deadlines
Consistently meeting deadlines and ensuring punctuality isn’t just a positive trait; it’s the backbone of successful project management. The benefits of timely delivery are multifaceted, extending beyond the immediate satisfaction of a job well done.
Benefits of being on time
Early benefits realization
Delivering on time means stakeholders and customers can quickly capitalize on the project’s outputs, resulting in swift returns on investment.
Efficient planning and resource allocation
When projects stick to their schedules, planning for subsequent phases becomes simpler, and resources can be optimally utilized.
Timely deliveries naturally enhance stakeholders’ trust in the project, instilling a belief in its forward momentum.
Navigating external pressures
Often, external circumstances demand strict adherence to timelines, making punctuality crucial.
Avoiding escalating costs
Delays often lead to budgetary concerns. Being on time can mitigate the risk of additional expenses.
A track record of punctual project completions reflects positively on the organization, bolstering its standing in the eyes of clients and competitors alike.
Whether it’s a brisk 2-week sprint, a 2-month stage, or a 6-month project, the principle of timeliness holds steady, underscoring its universal relevance in project management.
Protect the level of quality
Quality in traditional frameworks
Every project management methodology aspires to deliver high quality deliverables. However, with conventional waterfall models that break projects into distinct technical phases, a common occurrence is earlier phases extending beyond their allotted times. This often puts undue pressure on the subsequent phases, forcing them into a race against time.
A consequence of this rush is, invariably, a compromise on quality. This might seem like a winning move in the short run, but it’s a recipe for long term problems. A typical consequence of this is the truncation of testing phases to align with deadlines.
PRINCE2 Agile approach to quality
Rather than risking the integrity of the final product, PRINCE2 Agile adopts a different tack. Its strategy revolves around perhaps delivering a smaller scope or relying on non-critical quality criteria, but never at the expense of the product’s core quality. Shortcuts in quality can lead to a host of downstream issues.
Issues caused by compromising quality
An end product that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted for quality might not meet the user’s needs.
Elevated support demands
Low-quality products often come with a plethora of issues, necessitating extensive after-sales support.
Without rigorous quality checks, the end product might underperform, not living up to expectations.
If users encounter a product that doesn’t deliver on its quality promise, their engagement and trust levels drop.
PRINCE2 Agile consciously sidesteps these pitfalls. It champions an approach where deadlines are met, but not by sacrificing the essence of quality. The philosophy is clear: deliver excellence consistently, even if it means re-evaluating the scope.
The inevitability of change
Every project is subject to change. Instead of resisting, the key is to anticipate, adapt, and turn it into an opportunity. Embracing change paves the way for a more finely-tuned end product, more likely to meet users’ needs.
The spectrum of change
All changes aren’t created equal, and it’s crucial to discern the nuances.
These are shifts at the granular level, often not disrupting the overarching project framework. Such changes are nimble and can be addressed on the go with minimal fuss. A common strategy here is to prioritize requirements and switch one out for another of equivalent scale. This allows for dynamic course corrections without overwhelming the project.
These are changes that affect the project baselines. Addressing such changes demands a more structured approach. Established change control processes come into play, ensuring that every major change is assessed, vetted, and then implemented. Sometimes, these changes can be so profound that they raise questions on the project’s viability itself. In extreme cases, if the business case loses its footing due to these changes, it might even warrant halting the project.
Change, in all its forms, reflects the evolving nature of projects. Embracing change ensures that the end product is not just a reflection of the initial plan, but a culmination of all the learning and insights gathered along the journey.
Keep teams stable
Don’t add people to teams
In traditional project management, when a project lags behind its schedule, the knee-jerk reaction is often to bolster the team with additional staff. But when doing this, the short-term effect is often to extend the schedule as new team members get up to speed with the project. This is why, in PRINCE2 Agile, cost tolerance (which often translates to human resources) is set at zero.
The Agile perspective
Agile practices, known for their emphasis on informal communication, autonomous team structuring, and condensing tasks into short, manageable timeboxes, are particularly sensitive to shifts in team composition. Introducing new members has multiple drawbacks.
Negative effects of adding extra team members
New team members need time to get acquainted with the project, which can slow things down initially.
With every new addition, the web of communication grows more complex, making information flow less efficient.
Potential displacement costs
When a new member is pulled from another area or project, that originating area might experience a setback.
Team dynamics disturbance
A well-functioning team has a certain rhythm. New members can alter this balance, necessitating a period of adjustment.
While there might be valid reasons for changes in team composition over a project’s lifespan, PRINCE2 Agile emphasises the importance of stability, particularly in short-term sprints. It cautions against using additional personnel as a quick fix, advocating instead for optimizing the existing team’s capabilities.
Does the customer need everything?
Exhaustive wish lists
In the excitement of launching a new project, it’s common for stakeholders to create exhaustive wish lists of requirements describing what they want the project to deliver. However, when looking at commonly used products, it becomes evident that many features remain untouched or underutilized by the end-users.
PRINCE2 Agile asks an interesting question: Is everything on our list truly essential? And quite often, the response leans towards “not really”.
Trimming the excess
According to PRINCE2 Agile, the features of a product are the best candidates for making adjustments when seeking contingency. This isn’t to say PRINCE2 Agile projects start with a plan to cut corners. On the contrary, the methodology places a premium on punctuality and uncompromised quality. But, when faced with constraints, it prefers to recalibrate the deliverables rather than miss deadlines or compromise on the overall product quality.
Advantages of a leaner approach
Such an approach often culminates in delivering a ‘Minimum Viable Product (MVP)’ sooner than expected. This MVP, though lean, encapsulates the core value and functionality the customer genuinely seeks. Over time, as more iterations are completed and feedback loops established, further refinements and enhancements can be added based on real user needs and preferences, rather than assumptions.
In essence, PRINCE2 Agile encourages projects to differentiate between the ‘must-haves’, ‘should haves’, ‘could haves’, and ‘won’t-haves,’ ensuring that true priorities are always prioritised.
Importance of the five targets
The five targets in PRINCE2 Agile are critical when tailoring PRINCE2 to an agile context. These targets allow for the proper balancing of project demands, promote the importance of maintaining quality while managing schedules, embrace the inevitable changes that occur during a project, underscore the value of team stability, and question the necessity of all initial project requirements.
Alongside PRINCE2 Agile behaviours such as collaboration, the targets enable agile project management to maximize efficiency, minimize waste, and deliver value, making PRINCE2 Agile a powerful tool for managing projects in our rapidly evolving world.
In PRINCE2 Agile, the five targets are key to tailoring PRINCE2 to an agile environment. They allow the project management team to balance competing project demands, whilst maintaining the level of quality expected. They also enable changes to be embraced, which leads to delivering products more capable of meeting users’ needs.
They also value the stability of teams by not disrupting a functioning team during a timebox, and they question the assumption that the customer needs everything.
Taken together, the five targets of PRINCE2 Agile enable the project to maximize the efficiency of the teams, minimise waste, and deliver value to the customer both early, and continuously throughout the project. This makes PRINCE2 Agile a robust framework, adept at navigating the complexities and uncertainties of our fast-paced digital age.