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Focus areas of PRINCE2 Agile

by Simon Buehring
By integrating the flexibility and responsiveness of Agile methodologies with the disciplined management framework of PRINCE2, five key areas of focus emerge as essential.
Focus Areas in PRINCE2 Agile |


Combining the flexibility and iterative approach of Agile with the controlled environment of PRINCE2 requires Agile project managers to focus on five key areas. It is these areas that help to harmonise PRINCE2’s methodical project governance with the responsiveness of Agile.

The roles these five focal points play within PRINCE2 Agile are indispensable, and their importance will unfold as you read on.

In essence, the focus areas ensure that projects are not merely carried out but are steered competently, embracing fluctuations and amendments while safeguarding the project’s core objectives. They grant the malleability needed for effective delivery. By balancing strict adherence to PRINCE2 protocols with the latitude for the iterative nature of Agile projects, these areas ensure a symbiosis between the two methodologies.

Exploring PRINCE2 Agile will reveal how these focus areas illuminate the path to success, providing the necessary equilibrium between maintaining control and fostering Agile practices.

Five focus areas

There are five focus areas in PRINCE2 Agile. These are:

  • Agilometer
  • Requirements
  • Rich communications
  • Regular releases
  • Creating contracts.


Within the framework of PRINCE2 Agile, the Agilometer serves as an instrument that assesses the suitability of an environment for Agile practices.

Every project displays distinct characteristics: the level of trust shared between customer and supplier, available technological resources, or the volatility of project outcomes. It’s essential to align PRINCE2 with these unique features to ensure efficacy.

Envision yourself driving a car. The technology aboard is designed to facilitate a seamless journey. Nevertheless, your responses to the changing road conditions and traffic are critical. Similarly, the Agilometer aids in surveying the landscape of a project environment to navigate towards a successful conclusion.

Periodic assessments

Periodic assessments of Agile suitability are crucial, particularly before the project starts and at the initiation phase. Insights from these evaluations inform the project brief and project initiation documentation, equipping the project board with an awareness of potential risks and opportunities.

The Agilometer probes into six specific fields, seeking input from key stakeholders to measure each category independently. The evaluation of each domain should be considered in isolation, rather than amalgamating to form an average.

Identifying risks

The Agilometer’s strength is its capacity to identify the potential risks and advantages linked with the adoption of Agile methodologies. Engaging with the tool effectively involves probing questions to uncover areas for improvement, such as inquiring how to enhance a low teamwork score, rather than settling on an average figure and proceeding without a deeper analysis. Averaging scores can mask important details, so this practice is discouraged.

Agile adoption is not universally applicable. The requirements for constructing a nuclear submarine contrast starkly with those for developing a new chocolate flavour. PRINCE2 Agile endorses adaptability, highlighting that projects are not uniform but instead vary within a range of agility.

View agility on a scale

Should the Agilometer signal that the Agile risks for a project are too high, it may suggest considering different approaches. Such a situation can arise during project execution, prompting an exception scenario. The intention of employing the Agilometer in PRINCE2 Agile is not to reach a binary decision regarding Agile utilisation but rather to explore to what extent Agile methodologies can be integrated.


PRINCE2 Agile views requirements through a variety of lenses. The concepts of ‘user stories‘, ‘product descriptions’, and ‘requirements’ are often conflated and typically refer to similar concepts.

Requirements can detail what the product should do (functional) as well as the quality of its performance (non-functional).

Requirements form the basis of all team interactions

In the context of Agile, requirements form the basis of all team interactions. The emphasis for Agile teams lies in the exchange of these requirements rather than the strict management of time and costs.

Crafting precise requirements is vital as they shape the accurate portrayal of the product. The process of defining requirements is complex and often involves interviews and process modelling, which require specific expertise.

In the combined approach of PRINCE2 Agile, it is standard to document and refine requirements through product descriptions over time. It is critical to capture the appropriate level of detail at various stages to prevent confusion, unnecessary rework, and project delays.

Specifying requirements

Attaining the correct degree of specification for requirements is central to the process. This is commonly managed through a three-tiered method, specifying high-level, medium-level, and detailed requirements throughout different project phases: pre-project, initiation, and delivery.


Prioritisation of what needs to be delivered is a continuous necessity in PRINCE2 Agile. Techniques such as MoSCoW and numerical ordering are typical Agile methods of prioritisation. The choice between these depends on the project’s uncertainty level, with MoSCoW being a frequent default.

To assess the criticality of a requirement, considering if the product can function without it is a key question. Features may be categorised as ‘Must have’, while others may not be essential, and there can be alternative ways to incorporate ‘Should have’ or ‘Could have’ elements.

Change is inevitable in any project. PRINCE2 Agile distinguishes between detailed change and baseline changes. While refinements to the product from change can be beneficial, alterations that shift the project’s product description significantly influence the project baseline. Containing scope creep necessitates solid project governance and establishing quality criteria across a continuum, avoiding a strict binary perspective.

Reducing work

A fundamental principle of Agile methodologies is the consistent prioritisation of requirements. The goal of prioritisation is to ‘reduce the amount of work being tackled’, facilitating the adherence to timelines, upholding deliverable quality, and accommodating changes to yield an improved end product.

Rich communications

The focus area of rich communications in PRINCE2 Agile targets the common obstacles encountered in project discussions and aims for the most efficient information exchange among stakeholders. Recognising the variety of communication methods is integral – be it a brief email to notify a meeting or deeper conversations about performance hurdles.

The channels for these exchanges are just as diverse, including emails, telephone conversations, video conferences, and direct discussions. Communication typically follows the DIKW (data, information, knowledge, wisdom) model, evolving from mere data to astute wisdom.

Successful communication requires careful consideration. Messages need to be matched with suitable mediums; what works for a team in a single location might not suffice for a distributed team, which could require a mixed approach to stay connected.

Clear, succinct communication

In PRINCE2 Agile, the objective is clear, succinct communication. Technical details might be best suited to documented formats, whereas in-person exchanges, augmented with visual elements, can better convey context and emotions.

For complex projects with intricate webs of communication, it’s essential to prioritise – privileging direct conversations over written messages, and in-person meetings over calls where possible.

The digital era has brought forth an extensive array of tools to facilitate communication, from collaborative platforms and webcams to Agile boards, all enhancing communication efficiency.

Mixed communication

Mixing formal and informal communication is necessary, and the appropriateness of each depends on context. It’s vital to establish a communication management approach that outlines the norms and conventions for the nature, frequency, and formality of interactions.

Effective communication acts as the lifeblood of a project. PRINCE2 Agile understands this, advocating for an environment conducive to seamless information flow, tackling barriers as they arise, and ensuring that every stakeholder is involved and well-informed. Achieving this can greatly boost a project’s chances for success.

Communication efficiency

Communication efficiency in project management encapsulates the effectiveness and speed with which information is shared and comprehended among stakeholders. It goes beyond merely transmitting messages; it’s about ensuring that the information is fully understood and actionable.

Project teams now have access to a multitude of communication tools for different purposes: written documents for detailed instructions, emails for formal updates, instant messaging for quick interactions, and various visual aids to simplify complex concepts. Verbal communication, including calls and face-to-face interactions, add a personal dimension, enabling the assessment of reactions and ensuring mutual understanding.

Choose the medium that fits the message

Optimising communication for PRINCE2 Agile means selecting the most fitting medium for the message. The nature and urgency of the information should dictate the method – instant messaging can be ideal for quick questions, while in-depth design discussions may benefit from direct interactions.

Face to face communication

The value of face-to-face communication should not be underestimated. Augmented with visual aids, it is an invaluable asset for achieving shared understanding.

Adopting the team room concept, which encourages co-location, is advantageous as it fosters immediate dialogue, brainstorming, and joint problem-solving, circumventing the delays associated with digital communication.

Communication challenges

However, complex projects can present a labyrinth of communication challenges with multiple stakeholders and varying team dynamics. Messages that are delayed, misinterpreted, or lost can quickly deteriorate the health of a project.

Fast and face-to-face communication often proves to be the best method, cutting down on delays and clearing up uncertainties more effectively than written exchanges.

Remote communication

Nonetheless, with virtual and remote working becoming increasingly prevalent, effectively utilising technology is crucial. For modern remote setups, webcams offer a closer approximation to in-person conversations.

Real-time collaborative platforms can also be instrumental in maintaining alignment and keeping everyone up-to-date within the project team.

Communication may vary between formal and informal, but it’s essential to establish expectations. Quick, iterative feedback is ideal for brainstorming sessions, while formal decision-making processes are crucial for discussions with broader project implications.

Given the complex nature of projects and potential communication challenges, it’s important to define the critical messages, their intended recipients, and the appropriate delivery form, adjusting the frequency of updates according to stakeholder needs.

While not all communications need to be formalised, deciding which updates or decisions warrant documentation is part of effective project management.

Team boards

The visual display of important information for the team, whether through a physical board or digital dashboard, exemplifies an Agile principle, keeping communication guidelines, project status, and key metrics visible to all.

Managing communication within a PRINCE2 Agile project is like navigating a complex maze. With strategic planning, clear guidelines, and the judicious selection of tools, teams can sidestep obstacles and ensure that communication remains consistent, punctual, and effective.

Regular releases

Within Agile environments, regular product releases is a common Agile practice. In this spirit PRINCE2 Agile also places great emphasis on the value of frequent product releases. Teams are encouraged to maintain punctuality and adhere strictly to timelines when delivering these regular releases.

Advantages of frequent product releases

There are several merits are associated with the practice of routinely unleashing product releases:

  1. Enjoying early benefits

Routine deliveries of product segments mean that customers begin to enjoy the utility of the product much earlier compared to conventional methods.

  1. Benefiting from a feedback loop

The ongoing delivery cycle enables more rapid feedback collection, which is instrumental in refining the product and adjusting its direction when necessary.

  1. Mitigating risks

By frequently rolling out releases, teams can promptly confirm or refute hypotheses, which significantly mitigates the risks of further investment in unwanted or defective features.

  1. Keeping stakeholders involved

The regularity of product updates fosters continued interest and confirmation of progress to stakeholders.

  1. Refining processes

As the frequency of releases increases, the methodologies become more refined and the overall burden associated with releasing decreases.

Considerations for planning frequent releases

In the planning stages of frequent releases, keep the following aspects in mind:

  • Agile methods favour feature and demand-based deliveries over the conventional phase-based approach.
  • At the outset of the project, it’s critical to decompose the product into deliverable segments and identify which components could be delivered first to maximise the benefits.
  • Projects that see an abundance of releases or significant changes in content may find it advantageous to connect products with a release backlog.
  • It is essential to ensure that the planning for releases is cohesively woven into PRINCE2’s planning processes, with consideration for the release strategy in both the overall project and stage plans.

Lean Startup

The Lean Startup methodology adds a layer by spotlighting the need for rapid failure detection and assessing product viability, which can quicken feedback loops and enable swifter adaptations to market demands.

While a steady rhythm of releases is desired, project stakeholders must carefully calibrate to avoid overwhelming the customer and to allow for the assimilation of each release’s benefits.

Not all releases will be instantly operational due to various factors such as the organisational environment, specific contractual terms, or the particular requirements of stakeholders.

The frequency of releases is a core tenet of Agile practices, fostering early gains and sustained stakeholder interest. PRINCE2 Agile underscores these strengths by integrating Agile’s nimbleness and response capacity into projects that are already characterised by organisation and control.

Creating contracts

Agile philosophy doesn’t easily fit into the more traditional, structured approach to contracts. PRINCE2 Agile navigates between the customary rigid contract structure and the Agile ethos of collaboration and shared risk.

Limitations of conventional contracts

Standard contracts can be inflexible, prescribing exact deliverables, strict timelines, and fixed budgets. This approach discourages changes, which may be to the detriment of the project, often necessitating renegotiation and potential cost increases.

Welcoming flexibility

In contrast, Agile methodologies view change as beneficial, an opportunity to better meet client needs and enhance value. Agile contracts favour flexibility over prescriptive output requirements, creating a partnership aimed at continuous refinement and value enhancement.

Building on trust and joint efforts

The level of trust and cooperation underpins how risks are managed when unexpected challenges or changes occur. These dynamics are influenced by the history of interaction between client and provider, with different expectations for new versus established relationships.

Adapting contracts for agility

Organisations can adapt traditional contractual models, such as master agreements, to facilitate Agile practices. This might involve amending detailed documents like Statements of Work (SOW) to align with Agile methodologies.

Benefits of Agile-friendly contracts

Contracts designed with Agile principles offer multiple benefits:

  • Encouraging a focus on overall project value and benefits, rather than just specified deliverables.
  • Setting clear expectations for client involvement to foster effective collaboration.
  • Structuring deliveries around sprints or releases for transparency in project evolution.
  • Providing clients the option to conclude the project prematurely should it not proceed as desired.
  • Structuring incentives based on the completion of deliverables, rewarding full delivery and offering proportional compensation for partial completion.
  • Avoiding over-specification in contracts to allow for natural development of the product.
  • Prioritising vital requirements and using less critical ones as leverage to maintain quality and deadline adherence.
  • Facilitating the inclusion of new priorities by exchanging them with less critical existing requirements.
  • Depending on existing trust levels, starting with a basic contract and expanding details as needed.

Agile contracts in PRINCE2 Agile environments are designed to drive positive behaviours and focus on desired outcomes. They serve as dynamic tools that align with the overarching goal of delivering value while retaining the flexibility to adapt as the project evolves.


Incorporating the five focus areas of PRINCE2 Agile is crucial for its successful application. They lay the groundwork for robust communications, clear comprehension of requirements, enhanced risk management, and the consistent delivery of value.

These principles also contribute to the formulation of contracts that resonate with Agile principles, centring on mutual understanding and a cooperative stance on change and risk sharing. This collaborative foundation fosters a project management atmosphere that is more adaptive and likely to achieve success.


PRINCE2 Agile focus areas infographic

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