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Fixing and flexing in PRINCE2 Agile

by Simon Buehring
Read on to find out how PRINCE2 Agile turns the traditional project management assumption of fixing scope on its head.
Fixing & Flexing in PRINCE2 Agile |


PRINCE2 Agile is an evolution of the classic PRINCE2 methodology, tailored to thrive in the dynamic world of Agile project management. Bridging from the structured nature of PRINCE2’s 6th edition, and fully compatible with the more recent 7th edition, PRINCE2 Agile integrates the same six performance targets of time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits.

A fundamental principle in PRINCE2 is the establishment of tolerances for each performance target. Setting these parameters demarcates the limits of delegated authority and delineates the scope of decision-making. For example, should a project venture beyond the set tolerances, it enters the territory of an ‘exception’. This triggers a prompt escalation to the project board for decision and direction.

As a project progresses and deviates in its performance aspects, PRINCE2 equips project managers with a ‘management by exception’ framework. This framework permits the flexible adjustment between performance targets, provided the overall project tolerances remain respected. For instance, a delay in schedule might be compensated by the infusion of additional funds to accelerate progress, leveraging the predefined cost tolerance without exceeding it.

Ultimately, PRINCE2’s structure permits strategic exchanges between performance areas, aiming to mitigate issues while keeping the project within agreed boundaries.

The difference with Agile projects

Within the Agile project management sphere, practices diverge noticeably from those of conventional project management. Agile methodologies approach work through iterative cycles, commonly known as Sprints, that occur within fixed timeboxes. These delineated periods govern the schedule for project activities, drawing from a ranked list of requirements, often captured as user stories in a backlog.

Accordingly, within Agile paradigms, timelines are strict, and a resolute pledge is made to conclude all tasks by the end of each Sprint. Task prioritisation is informed by the need’s hierarchy, with little leeway for project managers when deviations occur, since the tolerance for time overruns is effectively zero.

In the event of unexpected hurdles within an Agile environment, extending deadlines is not the preferred remedy. Rather, the project scope is adjusted to fit the existing time constraints. The guiding principle is to address the most critical items first, subsequently moving down the list of priorities as time allows.

This scope flexibility extends to budgetary considerations in Agile projects as well. It presumes a constant team configuration throughout a Sprint, which is crucial to preserve progress and foster teamwork.

Consequently, where traditional project managers might offset plan deviations by investing more funds into additional resources or overtime, this avenue is not open in Agile ways of working based upon fixed timeboxes. As with time, when facing challenges, PRINCE2 Agile responds by varying the deliverables within the established timebox. This response is fundamental to PRINCE2 Agile’s ethos, prioritizing the capability to adapt, the agility in delivery, and the consistent creation of value.

The hexagon in PRINCE2 Agile

Fixing and flexing in PRINCE2 Agile – the hexagon.
Figure 6.1 from PRINCE2 Agile® (2018 3rd impression; UK: The Stationery Office; ISBN: 9780113314676).

In PRINCE2 Agile, the six performance targets are symbolised by the shape of a hexagon. This hexagonal representation serves as a graphical aid, providing clarity on how each performance target can be adjusted.

Time and cost are represented by two of the hexagon’s vertices and are considered absolute constraints within the PRINCE2 Agile framework. These elements are strictly bound by the original agreement, indicating their critical role in project delivery.

The other two vertices represent quality and scope, which stand apart due to their flexible nature. These dimensions are designed to accommodate changes, enabling a project to adapt to evolving scenarios.

Completing the hexagon are risk and benefits, two aspects with a conditional approach to flexibility. Depending on the specific circumstances of a given project, these elements may either be tightly controlled or allowed some degree of variance.

Understanding the five targets in PRINCE2 Agile

PRINCE2 Agile focuses on delivering projects in a flexible and efficient manner. At the heart of this method lies the ‘hexagon’ approach, which allows practitioners to balance the demands of the project environment. Central to this approach are five PRINCE2 Agile targets.

1. Be on time and hit deadlines

Time is a fixed constraint in PRINCE2 Agile, meaning that deadlines are sacrosanct. This approach ensures timely delivery, offering considerable advantages.

2. Protect the level of quality

Delivering a product that aligns with user expectations on quality assures a reduced total cost of ownership over the product’s life.

3. Embrace change

Accepting that change is inevitable allows project teams to handle it proactively. This acceptance is key to achieving a product that truly meets the final needs.

4. Keep teams stable

Resist the urge to alter team composition mid-timebox. Consistent teams have proven to be more productive and effective.

5. Accept that the customer doesn’t need everything

Early in the project, customers may not fully understand what they require. Recognising this can lead to greater flexibility in scope and a product that better serves the customer’s needs.


The PRINCE2 Agile method introduces the key practice of ‘fixing and flexing’. This management tactic secures on-time delivery by project teams while upholding quality standards without exception. The traditional fixed scope is replaced with a flexible one, which can be adjusted according to shifting requirements and unforeseen obstacles.

This flexible strategy gives project teams the leverage to address the actual needs of the customer efficiently. By adopting a repetitive and progressive approach to project delivery, teams are equipped not merely to satisfy but to predict and adapt to the evolving preferences of the customer.

Additionally, the early delivery of tangible benefits within the project timeline reinforces trust and contentment among customers, cultivating a mutual dedication to the project’s successful outcome.

Learn from agile leaders

agileKRC has helped shape agile thinking by leading the teams that developed AgilePM® and PRINCE2 Agile®. We take a practical, success-oriented approach. We begin by taking the time to listen and understand your needs, before offering our real-world experience and expert guidance.

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