Introducing the PRINCE2 Agile targets
The process of ‘fixing and flexing‘ the 6 performance dimensions of time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits is pivotal in the tailoring of PRINCE2 for an agile context. It’s essential to grasp the underlying logic behind this flexible approach, as it forms a paradigm shift from the traditional project management methods. This logic is captured within 5 targets.
This article explains the reasons behind these 5 targets in the PRINCE2 Agile approach.
Being on time and hitting deadlines
Protecting the level of quality
Keeping teams stable
Do we need everything we have asked for?
Being punctual in project delivery is always viewed favourably, but the accrued benefits of meeting deadlines go beyond what is immediately apparent. These advantages range from early realization of benefits, facilitating better planning and resource allocation, increasing confidence in progress, necessitation by external factors, minimizing cost overruns, to enhancing customer reputation.
The concept of ‘being on time and hitting deadlines’ applies across all timescales, be it a short-term 2-week sprint, a medium-term 2-month stage, or a long-term 6-month project.
Every project management framework aims to ensure a specific quality level. However, using traditional waterfall lifecycles that compartmentalize into technical phases often leads to earlier phases overrunning, subsequently squeezing the later phases to meet deadlines. This often results in quality compromises, leading to ‘short-term gain but long-term pain.’ A common example of this is where testing is reduced to meet deadlines.
PRINCE2 Agile places emphasis on delivering less scope or using lower-priority quality criteria instead of jeopardizing the overall quality of the final product. The degradation in quality can have long-term damaging effects like reduced usability, significant support requirements, degraded performance, and lack of user engagement, all of which PRINCE2 Agile aims to avoid by not compromising quality while meeting deadlines.
Change is an inherent part of any project, and it’s best to anticipate and prepare for it. Whether it’s a novel idea or a misunderstood assumption, change is a positive occurrence as it leads to a more accurate final product.
It’s important to differentiate between minor changes (at the detail level) and major changes (project baseline level), as the former can be dealt with dynamically with minimal overhead. Minor changes can be addressed by prioritizing and trading requirements (swapping out one requirement for another of equal size), while major changes typically require formal change control processes, potentially leading to exceptions or even project discontinuation if the business case becomes unviable.
Adding more people to a team in a lagging project is a common response in traditional project management. However, for challenging work, this strategy is less likely to work, especially in the short term, which is why cost tolerance is set to zero in PRINCE2 Agile.
Agile methodologies, which rely heavily on informal communication, self-organization, and scheduling work into short timeframes, can be disrupted significantly by personnel changes. This is due to time spent onboarding new members, exponential growth of communication lines, opportunity costs for areas providing the new personnel, and the need to re-establish team dynamics.
While team members may need to change over the course of a project, avoiding the use of extra personnel to accelerate progress mainly applies to short-term scenarios, such as within a sprint.
Frequently, the answer is no, but customers might not realize this at the project’s inception. One can easily see this by examining frequently used products and identifying rarely or never-used functions.
PRINCE2 Agile contends that product features are the safest area to compromise on for contingency. A PRINCE2 Agile project does not begin with the intention of not delivering everything, but it aims to meet deadlines and protect quality levels by adjusting what is delivered.
This approach often leads to the early delivery of a minimum viable product (MVP) and a faster delivery of what the customer truly needs.
Why the five targets are crucial
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.
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.