PRINCE2 Processes vs Agile Development Methodologies

Wildly acknowledged as the gold standard of project management the PRINCE2 has been the standard qualification across industries. It’s commonly a prerequisite for job descriptions and is recognised as being essential for keeping projects “in control” particularly in the public sector where project risk management is of high importance.

And this perhaps is the crux of the situation with regard to IT projects which are widely regarded as difficult to manage and commonly exceed budgets or fail to achieve the expected objective. The importance of ensuring that the whole project is nailed down to an actual detailed specification may well be the reason why so many IT projects fail.

The fact is that no one has a crystal ball and no end user, project sponsor or stakeholders are actually capable of detailing the project from start to finish in enough detail to ensure that the project actually delivers what it is hoped to achieve. If you were building a house from the ground up, would you be able to know exactly which shades of paint are required in every room, on every door and on every window, before you actually stand inside the room and get a feel for how much light is entering the room and the other colours that you see looking out through the windows? The choice of furniture and carpets all affect the final decision to choose the best colour so how can someone prescribe a detailed specification of absolutely every part of every house before its built? Possibly, although it’s quite a task to expect any non-expert.

IT projects where the end result is relatively abstract, unlike houses, the ability of anyone to accurately predict and specify in absolute detail simply is not possible. This is well recognised by Agile methodology practitioners who break projects down into bite size chunks and allow project sponsors to have choices throughout the project as to exactly what details are required after each iteration. This approach creates freedoms to choose what is and is not needed at various stages of a project importantly allowing budgets to be kept closer to what is needed and not what was predicted to be needed.

At UKNetWeb we have followed both PRINCE2 and Agile Methodologies. During this time we have found it’s quite simple: Agile as a system works and is the right solution for IT projects and those that try and keep everything in control using PRINCE2 end up with less control as the project system prevents any real ability to achieve detailed requirements.

We welcome discussion on such project management issues and are happy to explain more to both current and future clients.

This post was posted on Monday, November 15th, 2010 at 11:18 pm and is filed under Business, E-commerce, Technology, Web Development.

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