Is the PRINCE no longer charming?

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As leaders we are told that to survive, we must now be: entrepreneurial, agile, lean, failing fast, digital by default and expecting to be disrupted.

As project leaders (who needs ‘managers’ anymore?) we know we must keep evolving and that the way we deliver new products, tools and capabilities must change.  So does that mean we can forget about all the ‘good things’ our venerable PRINCE2 or any other process focused, waterfall approach, did for us?

If you are working outside of a self-funded ‘start-up’ you are probably having to justify using the organisation’s limited resources – people, time, money – on delivering new things when there is a business to run.

The ‘grown-ups’ in the organisation will no doubt be overloaded with requests for these resources and will want to compare the options in a consistent way that allows them to invest in the things that are best for the business. They will probably want to know what they are going to get, when they will get it and how much it’s going to cost in a consistent way so they can compare.  Didn’t someone once call that a business case?

It is likely that someone else – either within or outside your organisation – is going to be involved or impacted by the work you want done, so they are going to need to be kept informed or actively engaged if you want their help, support or co-operation.  You are probably going to want to know who they are, what they want or need to know, and when they will need to be told or involved.  We used to call that stakeholder management.  If you really need them to do something (or they are relying on you) that used to be dependency management.

Your ‘stakeholders’ will probably have other stuff to do so they will need some idea of what is happening and when – it may be quite high level but let’s not call that a plan as we are Agile.

New things can go wrong or cause difficulties for others, we better think about those and see if we can do something to stop bad things (or capitalise on unexpected ‘good’ things) happening before they hurt us.  Those old guys used to call that risk management.

If this task is going to take a while the grown-ups might want to know how we are getting on, is that reporting?

Let’s give those ‘grown-ups’ a better name if they are going to own the thing when it is finished, give us the resources we need to build it and give us their support and authority when we need it – sponsor or senior responsible owner might work, but we could shorten it to SRO.

OMG!!  This sounds a lot like old fashioned project management, and I thought I was supposed to be Agile!

In reality, none of these products or processes need to be onerous or bureaucratic. Only implementing sufficient controls to make sure the right things are done, they are affordable and that they have value to a customer.

MVG – “Minimal Viable Governance” – is likely to be the next King but he owes a lot to the old PRINCE. 

One final thought, Agile without any governance is simply fragile.

Image: Visual Generation/


Posted by David Richardson on 23rd Apr 2019

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