Rotate your device for best experience from site.

PRINCE2 embraces agile

by Keith Richards
Unlock the synergy of PRINCE2 and Agile for transformative project management. Read our insights; embrace efficiency in complex environments.
PRINCE2 embraces agile


The way we work continually evolves and the impact that Agile has made over the last decade has been very significant. PRINCE2 (the world’s most popular project management methodology) has continuously evolved too.

In Spring 2015 AXELOS, the owners of PRINCE2 launched PRINCE2 Agile to address the needs of both project managers working in Agile environments, and Agile teams looking for more governance and control when their work becomes larger and more complex.


In Spring 2015, Keith Richards, Founder of agileKRC and the Lead Author and Chief Examiner of PRINCE2 Agile, ran a webinar about PRINCE2 Agile which covered the following topics:

  • Why combine PRINCE2 with Agile?
  • What are their respective strengths?
  • Where are the two approaches complimentary?
  • How do you address the common misconceptions of Agile and PRINCE2?
  • Why PRINCE2 is NOT a ‘traditional’ approach to project management?
  • How do you create a culture where they can operate together?
  • What are the benefits of PRINCE2 Agile?
  • How will PRINCE 2 Agile help your organisation?

If you would like to know more about blending PRINCE2 with Agile and perhaps be surprised by the outcome, why not watch this video about PRINCE2 Agile from its author and learn a little about this new addition to the Agile family.

Further questions

Due to a lack of time, there were many questions left unanswered in the webinar. These have been addressed below.

During the webinar there were 2 polls taken with the participants. These were the results.

“How easy do you think it will be to integrate agile with PRINCE2?”

I don’t know
Very difficult
Reasonably difficult
Reasonably easy
Very easy

“Which of these describes your perception of PRINCE2?”

Bureaucratic, Document driven
Command and control
None of the above

Regarding Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) – Keith received this email from Mark Lines shortly after the webinar:


“Hi Keith, Excellent webinar. I just wanted to clear up a detail. DAD is not IBM’s. While Scott and I wrote the book on DAD while he was at IBM, they do not own it. It is freely available and the IP is the property of the Disciplined Agile Consortium. We have this in writing from IBM btw. Unfortunately, your perception is the common view, and not surprisingly as our book actually refers to “IBM’s breakthrough DAD process framework”. At the time, the book was being edited by IBM Press, and Scott was still at IBM so we didn’t push back on it. A mistake in hindsight. I am not sure what the status is in the UK, but elsewhere IBM is not doing much with DAD. If you have any more questions about DAD please let me know. Cheers, Mark”

Mark Lines, Managing Partner,
Scott Ambler + Associates
Mark Lines, Managing Partner,
Scott Ambler + Associates

How realistic is it to combine DSDM and PRINCE2 on large change programmes where the change must be embedded over a longer timeframe than the delivery timeframe?

Delivery of products should be taking place inside projects whereas the long-term embedding of change should be handled at the programme level.

Are the PRINCE2 Agile roles the same as those listed under DSDM?

The two sets of roles are similar. PRINCE2 refers to a customer supplier environment whereas DSDM refers to the business. PRINCE2 Agile has more roles at the governance level.

Which PRINCE2 roles are essential and how many can be morphed into others depending on resources available?

All the roles in PRINCE2 Agile must be performed by someone. The roles can be shared (several people perform a role) or combined (one person performs multiple roles).

Is this course compatible with Keith’s book Agile Project Management – Running PRINCE2 projects with DSDM Atern?

Yes and no. PRINCE2 agile and DSDM are mutually exclusive. They target the same area i.e. agile projects. The book you refer to was written in 2007 and both agile and PRINCE2 have evolved a lot since then, though a lot of the concepts are still applicable.

Is there a PRINCE2 Agile manual?

Yes there is a PRINCE2 Agile manual. There are also PRINCE2 Agile exams.

Is PRINCE2 Agile compatible with the new DSDM Project Management Framework for Scrum?

Similar in many respects yes, compatible no in the sense that if you are going out for a meal you would go for a curry or a pizza, you wouldn’t go for both.

What qualifications would you recommend for staff who are already PRINCE2-qualified and about to expire?

If someone already has a PRINCE2 Foundation or Practitioner qualification I would suggest that they take the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner exam. This will keep their knowledge up to date. Also, I think knowing PRINCE2 and doing it well and getting behind the misconceptions is well worth the effort. To be able to apply PRINCE2 correctly and talk about it knowledgeably I think will be advantageous to anyone.

Are story points covered in PRINCE2 agile?

Yes. Story points along with many other agile techniques approaches and behaviours are covered in PRINCE2 Agile.

Are story points on the way out and what may replace them when planning?

More evidence-based forms of estimation are challenging the widely held belief that we need to do a lot of estimation with story points up-front. The Kanban style of working often makes a conscious choice to avoid this practice. I am not saying that one form of estimation is better than the other. But I am saying that there are new ideas and concepts around estimation that had little prominence ten or even five years ago.

What is the difference between PRINCE2 Agile and AgilePM and do you need both?

Both address similar needs i.e. managing agile projects in an environment which addresses the wider project governance and project management issues. These are areas which agile delivery frameworks such as Scrum do not address. Choose either PRINCE2 Agile or AgilePM, but not both.

How do you calculate cost if the project product description is variable?

I tried to answer this in the webinar (not very well to be honest). You calculate costs based upon the assumption that all the work is going to be done. But you accept that new work may come in and previously planned work may be de-scoped.  This is because your contingency is in the things you do not deliver as opposed to adding an extra 10% on top of the budget.

In managing by exception, what do you do to avoid when a team ‘games the system’ to stay out of an ‘exception state’?

This is the role of the project assurance pin PRINCE2. Its role is to check that what people are saying is happening is really happening. Further to that it is the skills of the project board and the project manager that can pick this up.

Also, the frequent delivery of products means that you can only hide for a period of time. Sooner or later you are going to be found out. Gaming is quite hard if you have the appropriate controls in place.

Are there any other similar products to PRINCE2 Agile being developed?

The only recognisable generic agile project framework to my mind is DSDM which is particularly strong for business systems. I know that the Project Management Institute launched an add-on to its PMBoK (Project Management Body of Knowledge).

But this didn’t really seek to integrate agile with its project management standards. I think it was really done because the PMI realised that the whole ‘agile’ thing was passing it by.

Are there any guidelines / principles for evaluating how much, or what kind of tailoring to apply to various projects?

Yes. This is one of the key elements of the PRINCE2 Agile guidance. Not only does PRINCE2 describe how to tailor the method itself but PRINCE2 Agile describes the need to determine the appropriate use of agile and agile techniques.

How does PRINCE2 Agile fit with DSDM Best Practice guidance for integrating with PRINCE2?

Integrating agile frameworks and approaches such as DSDM, Scrum, DAD, SAFe etc are mentioned in the PRINCE2 Agile guidance. The key point to remember is that PRINCE2 Agile is an agile project framework and therefore applies to any situation where you would wish to run a project.

With respect to SAFe if you needed to run a project you could use PRINCE2. If you are running a project and you want to use an agile approach for product delivery then Scrum may be appropriate

How framework-neutral is PRINCE2 Agile?

100%. It is agile-method agnostic. I would suggest that there are no bad agile methods or practices, only the inappropriate use of them.

What will PRINCE2 Agile do over and above the AgilePM from DSDM?

I see it as an evolution of a lot of the thinking that is in DSDM. Both approaches (PRINCE2 and DSDM) have borrowed ideas and concepts from each other over the years and I cannot see this changing in the years to come.

Are project benefits of relevance in the context of a Programme only?

In a project context benefits can still have tolerance although this may only be the expected benefits. Having said that, an agile project will start to deliver actual benefits and value early, before the project is finished so you can start flexing them before the project has ended if you need to or want to.

In PRINCE2 Agile, is quality variable?

In PRINCE2 adjusting the quality criteria slightly to accommodate a change, yet still deliver a product that is fit for purpose and within its quality tolerance, is not seen as a scope change as the product is still being delivered.

At a recent APM meeting, one of the speakers said that PRINCE2 was one of the worst things to happen to PM – what do you think?

I would assume that the speaker has a lot of emotional baggage or was trying to get an easy laugh. 2 million people don’t take an exam if it doesn’t have some level of credibility.

In fairness it is hard to make a direct comment without seeing the context that the speaker was in or the situation they were referring to, but as the webinar described if you do PRINCE2 badly then that’s not the fault of PRINCE2, it is the fault of the person or people using it.

Some of you may be interested to know that when I first went on a PRINCE2 training course I was expecting it to be very boring and uninformative. It turned out to be the opposite as I understood what it was actually doing but there you go that was just me being prejudiced!

You just said varying quality again?  Quality is non-negotiable in agile isn’t it?

My belief is that the quality LEVEL is non-negotiable but individual quality criteria associated with any product can be flexed.

How do we define the requirement set as per PRINCE2 when they’re evolving in Agile?

In the real world this isn’t at all difficult because the baseline is set at a higher level and with the knowledge that things may change. Changes at the detail level need to be allowed to happen but changes to the baseline need to go through change control. This is where the responsiveness of agile can be combined with the control of PRINCE2.

What is the target audience for PRINCE2 Agile training?

It is for people coming from a PRINCE2 or structured project management background who want to learn how to apply PRINCE2 in an agile context. It is also for people from an agile delivery background who need something more than just a delivery framework.

How do you overcome prejudice towards the PRINCE2 from people who say it is too bureaucratic?

Challenge people on why they think it is bureaucratic and then in a nice way educate and inform them. The PRINCE2 manual specifically talks about avoiding bureaucracy. It is in there in black and white. All the prejudices identified by many of the attendees today were just that.

Can PRINCE2 Agile work when team members are not based in the same location?

Yes. This is one of the drivers for PRINCE2 Agile in that when agile encounters complicated situations it needs more control but not a form of control that will stifle agility.

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.

This website use cookies. Learn more